Go Away With … Piper Perabo


By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
September 27, 2016

Since starring in the film “Coyote Ugly,” Piper Perabo has kept busy adding to a long resume of movies and television work. After five seasons as CIA operative Annie Walker on USA Network’s “Covert Affairs,” Perabo now stars as a TV news producer in the new ABC series, “Notorious.” An avid traveler, the actress credits her trips for getting her involved with the International Rescue Committee.

“I was working in Istanbul and there were so many Syrian refugees there,” says Perabo. “Until then, it hadn’t hit me how far many of them had walked with their families to try to find safety and work. That was an awakening for me.”

Fans interested in staying updated on Perabo’s work may follow her on Twitter.

Q. Your heritage is English, German, Irish and Norwegian. Have you visited any of those countries?

A. I have not. I just saw a lot of my Norwegian family at a wedding, but they came over here. It seems like they always come to us. I would love to visit all those places one day.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I remember being in Hong Kong and it was just one of those amazing places. The food was so good. They have these amazing pork buns that I have never forgotten about. I also loved that there were so many beautiful temples. They burned incense during the day and people could go in and pray throughout the day.

Q. How adventurous are you with food?

A. I’m pretty good. I eat a lot and really enjoy trying new things. I love looking for local things that people talk about. I’ll see what travel food writers recommend and I try to check some of those places out. When I was filming in Barcelona, I remembered that Mark Bittman had written in The New York Times about the perfect ham sandwich place and I found it. It was a very plain sandwich, but it had the perfect slice of ham, really good mustard, some simple but delicious bread — it was so good. Another time, I was filming in Marrakesh and walking around with some guys from our crew in a rough part of the city. We saw all these workmen lined up to buy lunch at this open stall. She had wedged her cart in between two buildings and was selling the most amazing food. Our feeling was that if these guys were willing to wait in line and pay hard-earned money for food from this little cart, then it must be pretty good. I can still taste the grilled eggplant, french fries and the delicious pita bread. I’ll eat from a street cart any day.

Q. When you did “Covert Affairs,” your character spoke 26 languages. How about you in real life?

A. (Laughs) I love languages, but I’m not fluent in anything other than English. I studied French in high school and can speak it like a little kid. Some of my early jobs were in Montreal and Marrakesh and I needed to be able to speak French to get along. But, really, it’s pretty shabby. I can ask for directions. My next goal is to learn Spanish. Living in Southern California where so many people speak it, I’d love to be able to join in a conversation. It’s so beautiful.

Q. Have you traveled to a place where you didn’t find any English speakers?

A. Of course. I was climbing glaciers in southern Patagonia and the only other person who spoke English was a girl from Korea who could speak English and Spanish.

Q. What is on your travel bucket list?

A. I really want to get to Marfa, Texas. I’m interested in the art scene there. I’ve never been to North Dakota. I would also like to see the Badlands (in South Dakota). I’ve heard that landscape is really incredible to see. Japan — I’ve never been there and would like to go to Kyoto in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Japan is so culturally rich and has an elegant and long history. I would love to go to Nairobi. My grandmother was there before and it always seemed romantic to me. I’d love to go to Cairo and also spend time in Southern Mexico, like Oaxaca.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. When I’m in a hotel, especially if I’m staying for a long time, I like to rearrange all the furniture. The maids are always raising their eyebrows at me, but I love to have a desk near the window so that I have a view. I also like to find flower markets and bring back flowers for my room.

Q. What is your best vacation memory?

A. I was filming in Vienna and it was one of the crew member’s birthday, so we had a full day of shoots and then leaving for another city. So in Vienna, they’re famous for chocolate torts. And you’re allowed to drink in public in Vienna. Someone went to get torts and someone else got champagne. We were all in wardrobe and filming, but we just stopped for 20 minutes and celebrated. It was a really great moment.

Q. Do you prefer to take active trips or relax-at-the-beach vacations?
A. I really like going out and doing things. But once in a while, I can lay on a beach. I just need a really good book though.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I grew up in New Jersey and it can get a bad rap. But the southern coast is so beautiful with the beaches and the sunsets over the bay. It’s really pretty and welcoming.

Q. What are your favorite cities?
A. New York City. It’s so vibrant and is constantly inspiring. I love Berlin. The street art scene is so cool. I love Southern Patagonia for ice climbing. I was there iin the fall for us, but it was spring there. We went to where the penguins nest and saw elephant seals with their babies and whales with their babies. You could drive for days and not see anyone. There was something about the wild that I just really loved. There’s an austere beauty to Stockholm. I like austere beauty.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM

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