TODAY   |  November 05, 2013

Hill Harper talks new role in ‘Covert Affairs’

Actor Hill Harper, best known for his work on “CSI: NY,”  talks to Kathie Lee and Hoda about writing books, his new role on the action drama “Covert Affairs,” and his career choice of acting despite being a graduate of Harvard Law School.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> you probably know hill harper best as the eskren trick dr. hawks from "csi new york " a role he played nine seasons. now he's taken on something new.

>> "covert affairs" calder michael who likes to shake things up a bit. in real life he's a best-selling author. graduated from harvard law school .

>> what?

>> excuse us.

>> wow.

>> friends with the president. please.

>> wow.

>> nice of you to --

>> to join us.

>> slumming with us.

>> wearing a suit from "covert affairs." let's go back a little bit. so you went to harvard. am i right?

>> yes. for grad school .

>> for grad school . where did you go before that?

>> brown undergrad.

>> magna cum laude.

>> you're very fancy.

>> how did you go from those universities to acting?

>> my parents ask they that question all the time.

>> both doctors, right.

>> when i went to brown i took my first theater class, but i still wanted to go to grad school . i decided to get my joint degree at harvard law school and kennedy school of government . i kept acting while in grad school and i joined a company in boston. i come down here to new york and do a lot of theoffer. over time took over.

>> did you take the bar exam ?

>> no. you only take the bar -- i got my degree but you only take the bar if you're going to practice law .

>> well how did your parents feel about all that --

>> no, no, no. they had always reinforced to me --

>> they weren't mad privately mad. they always told me that there was nothing i couldn't do.

>> okay.

>> nothing i couldn't achieve. whatever is in your heart go for it.

>> that's great.

>> i followed their advice.

>> did it take you a while to get traction in the acting world?

>> you know what, i was really fortunate, spike lee gave me my first break, put me in a movie called "get on the bus" with ozzy davis and charles dutton .

>> wow.

>> ozzy is amazing, right?

>> that started me off. i credit spike lee . he put me in another movie called "he got game" and helped my career at the beginning.

>> now you've been on lots of great shows and you always seem to be some sort of a law officer or some sort of thing. this is a --

>> solving crime.

>> solving crime. but this time you get to travel the world.

>> yes.

>> that's cool.

>> you know, wherever the story line goes in "covert affairs" you pick up and go.

>> that's what makes "covert affairs" so special. having done "csi" for nine years in a lab the whole time it's nice to be on a show where we go everywhere. the first season we go to columbia, frankfurt, copenhagen, final two episodes are set in hong kong , amazing episodes. three episodes left of the season and couldn't be more excited.

>> it seemed like it would be so pricey of course everyone is trying to cut costs but that's not the case when you travel overseas.

>> when we go overseas, they've been doing it a while, i just joined the show this year, but they have it down to a science and they take a pretty skeleton crew .

>> right.

>> they hire a lot of local crew.

>> which is great for the local economy .

>> awesome. and it's good. it's great.

>> we mentioned at the top you're a "new york times" best-selling author. what kind of books do you write?

>> nonfiction motivational books. today my fifth and final book is coming out.

>> final?

>> why do you say final?

>> this is it. this is it. no.

>> never say never, nothing you can't do.

>> just like jay-z i'm dropping the mike and walking off. that's it.

>> you are not.

>> i put everything i have. this is a motivational book for the incarcerated individuals and their family and any people in type of a prison whether it be a job that's got them stuck, death that's got them stuck, and i couldn't be more proud of this book. by far the best book i've written and that's it. this is it.

>> i don't think so.

>> you're going to come back in five years with a book.

>> no, i'm not. i'm coming in right now with a book. i have two book for the guests. this is for both of you.

>> that's a great cover. that's great "letters to an incarcerated brother".

>> thank you so much.

>> great to meet you.

>> she got it right. terrific. thank you so much. give our love to piper. we're crazy about her.

>> she's the best.

>> i love her.

>> she's a doll.

>> okay.

>> "covert affairs" thursday at 10:00 ,