piper-perabo-covert-affairs-season-3.jpgPiper Perabo thanks several other actresses for swaying her toward television.

Ready to begin Season 3 as CIA agent Annie Walker on the USA series “Covert Affairs” Tuesday, July 10, Perabo credits Kyra Sedgwick‘s work on TNT’s soon-to-end “The Closer” — as well as Holly Hunter‘s on TNT’s now-ended “Saving Grace” and Glenn Close‘s on “Damages,” which starts its fifth and final season Wednesday, July 11, on DirecTV — as door-openers for other previously movie-based talents.

“When those three women all started leading television shows, it actually changed my perspective on what’s possible for a lead actress on TV,” the spirited Perabo tells Zap2it. “To watch them head shows that were serious dramas, and where they were characters who were in charge, opened my eyes to the possibility of television and really got me excited about it.

“When you see the first season of ‘Damages,’ if you don’t want to do television, I don’t know what kind of actress you are,” Perabo adds. “What they were doing was so exciting, it made me want to see if I could find a show I could do like that. Television had come after me before, but I was never really interested in the project itself. There were movies that were more interesting to me.”

Having appeared in such big-screen hits as “Coyote Ugly” and “Cheaper by the Dozen,” Perabo is keeping her feature-film career alive as “Covert Affairs” continues. She stars with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this fall’s sci-fi adventure “Looper,” and during her last hiatus, she worked with James Marsden and Billy Bob Thornton in the tentatively titled grizzly-hunting drama “Red Machine.”

“I never really want to take it easy, because that’s not my gear,” Perabo muses of working through her series breaks. “Not only do more movie offers come in, because people are more aware of me from ‘Covert Affairs,’ but I’m getting opportunities to play different kinds of characters.”

That said, Perabo is grateful to keep developing Annie as each “Covert Affairs” script advances her: “One of my fears about doing TV was that playing the same character for years could wear it out, but in the same way you do a play for months and months, what actually happens is that it gets more interesting. Sure, certain layers come off and you get down deeper, but it just gets richer.

“The same is true when you play someone for years and years on television. The emotional history of the character and the secrets you know about her get built up, so it gets more interesting to play than when you started.”

Posted by:Jay Bobbin