The Texas native, 45, plays a computer salesman named Harry who is actually an international spy on the new CBS series. While Howey is neither a salesman nor a spy, he exclusively told Us Weekly on Friday, February 24, that he connected with Harry’s role as a “devoted family man” who “adores his kids” despite deceiving them and his wife, Helen (Ginger Gonzaga), for 17 years.
“I’m a father … I know the marriage route,” Howey told Us of the connection between his life and that of his character. “Harry is a protector. I feel like I’m a protector, especially when I’m with my kids. So, there’s a lot of similarities there.”
The former Shameless star shares three children — son William, 13, and twins Violet and Knox, 7 — with Shahi, 43, whom he was married to for 11 years before calling it quits. Us exclusively confirmed in June 2020 that the Sex/Life actress filed for divorce one month prior after separating from her spouse in April of that year.
“After much thought and consideration, we have decided to end our marriage,” the exes said in a joint statement to Us at the time. “As we enter into this new phase of our lives, our priority will remain co-parenting our children with so much love, mutual respect and friendship. And though our relationship is changing, we are committed to continuing our lives as a loving family.”
Us exclusively confirmed that Howey and Shahi finalized their divorce in January 2021. While the L Word alum moved on romantically with her Sex/Life costar Adam Demos in late 2020, Howey focused on the final season of Shameless, which ended in 2021, and the beginning of True Lies, which premieres on Wednesday, March 1.
The Reba alum explained to Us on Friday that he has a few more things in common with his True Lies character since they are “both the same person” in way.
“I’m an actor … Harry is an actor as well,” Howey said. “I’m not as a good of liar as Harry is, because I don’t even know if it’s lies or it’s just dishonest truths. You can say true lies [is] lying truthfully.”
The Something Borrowed actor further explained that his TV alter ego “knows how to compartmentalize,” confessing, “I don’t know how to do that.”
While Howey has found TV success before, he told Us that this role is a little bit different because of all the action.
“I wanted to do my own stunts. I’ve always wanted to do it, like, this has been a dream come true,” the Making Babies star revealed, noting that he had to train really hard to become a spy. “Two months before we started production, I was just running up hills, getting my body conditioned. And I just started looking at material for clandestine operations and work and it’s not as glamorous as you think it is.”
The Bride Wars actor’s costar Gonzaga, however, made the work a little more bearable. “There’s a lot of chemistry between Steve and Ginger, so there’s gonna be chemistry between Harry and Helen,” he teased, explaining that on the show Harry’s wife learns he’s a spy when they are kidnapped in Paris. “And that was just luck, destiny, I don’t know. But I adore Ginger. I think she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of funny people.”
Howey added: “She made me laugh every day when we were working together. It was awesome. And she’s also a good person, so her humor doesn’t come from a bad place or a negative place. Her humor is making fun of herself [and] making fun of me, which I love.”
True Lies premieres on CBS Wednesday, March 1, at 10 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Leanne Aciz Stanton