Manny Montana plays FBI agent Joe “Johnny” Tuturro on USA’s hit summer drama Graceland. Johnny is a fun-loving, dedicated marksman who has taken the initiative to be more autonomous and independent with his cases, but occasionally his commitment leads to some unpredicted trouble.
Montana spoke with us this week to share his thoughts on how Johnny’s developed over the past season, and on what he loves the most about playing a character who is fighting for more leadership and respect as an agent.
“I like it. I like it a lot because starting with season one where Johnny was just kind of like the punch line guy, and I like that too, but I like that they slowly try to progress him into this character,” he said. Johnny obviously has the necessary skills “because he did become an FBI agent,” but Montana told us that later this season, “between episodes five and six, Johnny starts going back to being the fun-loving guy and kind of cuts back from being serious.”
Season 3 of Graceland has brought back the camaraderie and unity among the agents, and Johnny is pushing for his roommates to be more honest about their cases and their faults. In Montana's eyes, for Johnny, Graceland is "the only family he has, so he searches for it. He's still making mistakes just like the rest of the house, and every member now has a little secret."
Montana also said that "towards the middle and towards the end of the season everyone starts sorting out their grievances," which is something he enjoyed very much about season three.
"I can't wait for the audience to see that episode -- I think it's about episode seven or eight. So there's still going to be a mixture of both [honesty and betrayal], and I like that because you can't just have it one way."
All of the agents in Graceland, with the exception of Jakes, are currently hiding a conflict or betrayal from Johnny, but Johnny’s carrying a few heavy secrets of his own. Montana commented on whether the betrayals taking place in Graceland have had an impact on Johnny’s decision to go rogue on his case with the Solanos. “He’s not consciously doing anything to try and balance anything out,” he explained. “It’s just kind of the way life is going for him right now.”
So far in season three, the bromance between Johnny and Jakes has gained depth, and Montana assures us that these two characters will have a shocking, unexpected story line later this season.
Commenting on their growing trust and understanding of one another, Montana said, "I think they’ve always had it; it’s just come out in different ways. Jakes is a big brother to Johnny, and he doesn’t agree with a lot of the stupid mistakes he makes, but he goes to back him up, and I think that’s why the audience likes it so much because it’s a love-hate relationship (but mostly love). I like that it’s continuing on this season."
And that curveball season ending?? "Ohhh [laughs], I wish that I could give away what’s going to happen at the end, but Jakes and Johnny go through a lot together!"
Johnny's continued ties to the Solano cartel and his star-crossed romance with Lucia showed audiences an evolving, independent Johnny. But in Montana's eyes, have Johnny's ethics been affected or altered because of his autonomous decisions?
"Mmm, that's a good question...I don’t think his ethics have changed. I just think he understands now that it’s not black and white. There’s not right and wrong, there’s a whole lot of grey.
I think he’s learned it from Briggs in the way that you can push it to the limit, but at the end of the day...you’re being open and honest with everybody. So he’s trying to be a mixture of Briggs and Mike, but it’s just overwhelming to him at first. I think his ethics are being pushed, but he still has a good heart and will still try to do what’s right."
Fans loved getting more of a glimpse into Johnny’s backstory last season when he brought Lucia to his childhood home, but unfortunately, audiences won't be seeing more of the Tuturro family in season three. Johnny's background, along with Montana's background, will play a role though later on this year.
"I think in episode ten there’s a story that comes into play about, actually something that I know really well…it’s similar to in that way that I grew up, in the neighborhood where I grew up, with the guys that I grew up, and people that I didn’t like. And I fall into this world that I hate, but I have to go under to help Briggs...It’s a world that I know really well."
Gracelanders were ecstatic to learn that there would be more scenes featuring all six Graceland agents this season, which would mean that our favorite merry band of misfits got to hang out together on set more, right?!
Even though Manny didn't have a particular funny story or prank in mind, he joked about the ensemble cast's time spent on set together. "Daniel Sunjata’s just a fool who’s always trying to keep the cast light," he said. "He’s hilarious and any time there’s a gag reel, he’s heavy on it because he’s hilarious. Brandon is always telling funny jokes; Vanessa’s a nut! I just like the people that I work with. It's so crazy because we'll be doing these serious scenes, but in between takes a lot we're joking, so it's always fun."
Johnny has had many interesting undercover aliases over the course of the series, and Montana confirmed that Johnny will alter his appearance this season to help Briggs with a difficult case. But when Montana's not acting, he takes on the role of a high school football coach.
So will these two worlds ever collide? Could Johnny go undercover as a coach? "You know it's funny, one of the writers asked me what I wanted to do next season and I told him I would love to go into something like that, but I don't know how well that would play with Graceland," Montana explained. "So I want to do something where I'm under as somebody, and I'm doing something that I might not have been aware of, and that can still kind of be along the same lines as coaching, but I don't know if I see Johnny as a football coach."So what should fans be most excited for this season?? Without missing a beat, Montana replied, "T
he ending. Literally, like the last scene in the finale is what I can't wait for the audience to see."
For as much as we would all love to know about that final scene, it would mean the end of another season of Graceland, and I don't think anyone wants that quite yet!!
Be sure to finish your job on the chore wheel prior to 10/9c, because Graceland airs all new episodes Thursdays on USA Network!