Interview: Coral Peña teases what’s to come for Anna Cruz on NBC’s The Enemy Within

Image Credit: Photography by James Lee Wall. Hair by Nicole Blais. Makeup by Juan Antonio. And Styling by Jenn Rosado
Image Credit: Photography by James Lee Wall. Hair by Nicole Blais. Makeup by Juan Antonio. And Styling by Jenn Rosado /

On NBC’s The Enemy Within, actress Coral Peña plays Anna Cruz—a CIA Analyst with a mysterious past. Bits and pieces of her identity have been sprinkled throughout but there’s a lot we don’t know. Fortunately, Peña provided us with more insight into her character during a recent interview.

From the start, the plot of NBC’s The Enemy Within has centered around a terrorist invasion manufactured by sleeper agents inside the United States intelligence community. Agent Keaton (Morris Chestnut) and convicted traitor Erika Shepherd (Jennifer Carpenter) have been working to uncover the terrorists’ identifies but have failed to expose any—except one—Anna Cruz (Coral Peña).

Warning! Spoilers for the latest episodes of The Enemy Within follow. You’ve been warned.

It was fairly clear early on that Anna was incahoots with Mikael Tal—the leader of their terrorist organization. Anna called him after being rescued by Agent Keaton and has continued to provide Tal with tips on the FBI’s investigation into them. The thing is, Anna hasn’t explained why she’s thrown away her life as a successful CIA Analyst to be a terrorist.

There are plenty of theories on why Anna Cruz has decided to align herself with Tal, we just don’t know what they are yet. The good news is that Coral Peña was able to elaborate on some of Anna’s motivations during a recent interview with the Enemy Within actress.

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In our interview with Peña, we spoke about Anna’s affiliations with Tal, her plans as a mole in the FBI, why she’s working for a terrorist network, and much more.

Now, Peña wasn’t able to offer too many revealing details but the teases she provided definitely gave us a reason to pay closer attention to Anna Cruz in the following episodes. One of the most intriguing tidbits hinted at her working relationship with Tal.

When we asked Peña about Anna’s connection to Tal, she could only say two words in response to the question. But seeing as how those two words were “very involved”, it’s a fair to suggest that Anna is a high-ranking agent in Tal’s network. Or, perhaps Tal and Anna are romantically involved.

Whatever the explanation is, we’ll likely learn more of Anna’s relationship to Tal in the next few weeks. Shepherd just exposed Anna’s secret identity to Keaton so the truth is bound to come out soon. Once that happens, Anna’s ties to Tal will be shown.

Until then, there’s time to dig deeper into our interview with Coral Peña. Since it may hold more clues about the coming plot, the interview is worth a thorough look. Fans interested can check out an entire transcript of our interview with Peña below.

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Hulu Watcher: Coral, when you first got the part as Anna Cruz on The Enemy Within, did Ken Woodruff and the producers tell you everything about your character or did they leave certain aspects out? Like the fact that she’s secretly a double agent?

Coral Peña: When we first shot the pilot, they had a bunch different routes she could end up on. That’s what happens with pilots. Until they knew the vibe of the show and how the show ultimately turns out, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But after the table read, he [Ken Woodruff] told me more about the reasons behind Anna’s actions and he gave me a little background on what he was thinking for the future, then we moved on from there.

Hulu Watcher: When you learned that your character would transition from a seemingly innocuous CIA Analyst to a covert assassin, did you anticipate shooting scenes like the Nemec Assassination? 

Coral Peña: I knew from the beginning that the way she was going to be darker than she seemed. I didn’t think she wasn’t going to be so intense or so cold-hearted but I knew the path they were going to have her on.

Hulu Watcher: Getting into more of Anna’s motivations, can you say anything towards how involved she is with Tal? 

Coral Peña: “Very Involved”.

Hulu Watcher: You might not be able to answer this question but can you give us an estimate of how long Anna has been working with/for Tal?

Coral Peña:  I can’t say but that’s one of the more interesting parts of Anna—how little or how long she’s actually known him.

Hulu Watcher: Another question you might not be able to answer, but will your character meet Tal in person? Be it in the present day or through a flashback?

Coral Peña: Let’s just say they communicate a lot.

Hulu Watcher: So far, Anna has successfully infiltrated Agent Keaton’s task-force but we don’t really know what her plan is. Can you say anything about what Anna’s goals are at the FBI? 

Coral Peña: Ahh, well with Keaton, she can see that he’s vulnerable, and that he’s someone with an enormous chip on his shoulder. Keaton is also someone who doesn’t want what happened to someone he loved to happen to anyone else. He sees that in other people and becomes too emotionally involved in their lives.

Anna has been keeping track of this, using her past as one of Tal’s victims to relate to Laine (Keaton’s murdered wife). She’s then used those vulnerabilities to get closer to Keaton, to get closer to the FBI, and really to be the first person who informs Tal of any new strategies they’re cooking up.

Hulu Watcher: You sort of answered this already but does Anna want Tal to burn the government down? That’s presumably Tal’s motivation for killing intelligence officers, does that line up with Anna’s goals?

Enemy Within
THE ENEMY WITHIN — “Havana” Episode 105 — Pictured: Coral Peña as Anna Cruz — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC) /

Coral Peña: Hmm, let’s put it this way. She’s the victim of truly unfortunate circumstances. But at the same time, Anna is someone who thinks she is in control of every situation, even when in the presence of people like Nemec. All these people who work under Tal are just victims of putting their trust in the wrong people. Why she decides to do that is the mystery.

Hulu Watcher: Assuming your character isn’t killed off, would you come back for a second season if asked?

Coral Peña:  Yeah. I was so insanely excited about this character when I first got the part. And I’ve said it before, women who were written like this, who are deciders of their own destiny, who have their own goals, their own plan, their own vision, are wonderful. I’ve been lucky to play that part. Luckily, the audience is getting a kick out of me too.

Hulu Watcher: Aside from NBC’s Enemy Within, do you have any other upcoming projects that you’re working on?

Coral Peña: Yes, I actually start rehearsals for a new off-broadway play called BLKS next week.

Hulu Watcher: Have you worked in theatre before or is this something new you’ve taken an interest in?

Coral Peña: I’ve studied theatre and I love Shakespeare. I’m a big Shakespeare buff so I’m really excited about this new play.

The Enemy Within airs Mondays on NBC. Episodes are uploaded to Hulu the following day. For more on Coral Peña, you can follow her on Twitter at @fakecoralpena and you can catch her in the upcoming Broadway play, BLKS