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|09-08-2010, 05:43 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 01, 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
TVSquad Talks To Shane West on The CW's "Nikita"
Melinda Clarke Talks "Nikita"
by Kelly Woo
posted Sept 8th 2010
Butt-kicking babes are back in a big way this fall, and The CW's "Nikita" has more than its fair share of sexy action heroines
The new series is an update on the 1990 movie Nikita, the movie's 1993 remake Point of No Return and the 1997 Canadian TV show "La Femme Nikita".
In The CW's version, Nikita (Maggie Q) is a rogue assassin conspiring to topple Division, the secret government agency that trained her.
But Division has weapons of its own, including Melinda Clarke's Amanda, a manipulative psychologist who may just have been a former assassin herself.
Clarke spoke to TV Squad about learning to kick butts alongside Maggie Q and her mysterious character:
How did you get involved with "Nikita"?
There's a process in Hollywood, and one of those processes is pilot season, where you're just going on auditions. But for me, this particular project, ultimately became a perfect storm, and it traces all the way back to "The O.C."
McG is a producer, Peter Rob is the head of Warner Brothers and the relationships that were cultivated then led to this project. So, usually pilot season is very busy, and there are lots of auditions and lots of near misses and rejections.
This year, I had two auditions, landed this role and it felt like being home again.
It seems like a really great fit.
Yes, it does. I was teasing that all of my roles have led up to this one; I told Craig Silverstein the creator, and writers, executive producers this the other day.
As we were speaking about the character and what they have planned for Amanda, it just sounded like everything I've done has just led up to this one.
[Clarke's phone cuts out] Where are you driving to?
I'm on my way to training with the cast.
Maggie Q has set up these intense training situations and I have a feeling I'm going to be hurting tomorrow.
What kind of training is it?
Well, I haven't been yet but I"m assuming it's conditioning and hand-to-hand combat work and getting ready for looking good on camera, as if you know what you're doing, which she does.
It's been years since I've had this kind of training. I've done it in the past but "The O.C." didn't really need that kind of training -- you just need to know how to put mascara on and walk in heels.
Do you enjoy this kind of training and doing action scenes?
I've always loved it. I did an action series back in '97, and did very intense training; weapons, knives, hand-to-hand combat. The more an actor trains in that way, the more we can do on screen and the better it looks.
Nowadays, they want the actors to do as much as possible and stunt doubles are primarily used for the dangerous things that aren't covered by insurance.
Can you talk a bit about your character and what her role is on the show?
Of course, we all know this is part of a franchise based on the French film, La Femme Nikita, and of course an updated version of the series that was in the '90s of La Femme Nikita.
Now my character represents the more experienced, older woman who's ...
A female mentor, whose responsibility is going to cover more than just teaching girls how to walk and talk and look pretty and use their sexuality.
We're going to find out that she has a lot more to offer Division and she's more than just that mentor. She's high up in Division, she's trained and very skilled and maybe she was the original "Nikita" type female.
Now we have the generation of Lyndsy Fonseca, who plays Alex, and she's the brand new Nikita. My character probably represents someone who has been there and is now into a different level.
But it's always going to be somewhat mysterious and enigmatic to start, which is good because there's always going to be a mystery behind some of these characters.
And for Amanda, I think she's going to be quite the enigma for a while.
So we'll definitely learn more about her in the future?
We're going to find out that she's not only a psychologist and probably a student of human behavior, but she's also a manipulator.
And I said something about, the producer actually said something about her having these psychological sessions ... she'll be a lead interrogator.
And I said, "Like Lorraine Bracco in "The Sopranos"?" and I think her character is Dr. Melfi -- Dr. Melfi meets Dr. Wexler, though. Which could mean a lot of things, so I'm really, really excited.
I don't think any of the characters are just good and bad. Nikita's not all good, Amanda's not all bad. I think everybody's everything, compromising themselves on a daily basis.
I'm really excited for this show, especially on the CW, their first straight-up action show without some sort of supernatural or vampire or something.
They've been really successful with those, but this is a big leap and it's a great cast, great crew.
The show has a darker, grittier feel to it than most CW shows, which was pleasantly surprising.
Well, I think the network is making very smart decisions. They're expanding their network and they want to expand the demographic -- get more male viewers, maybe some older viewers -- and they're doing it with this show.
And it has a huge international appeal. There's a lot of excitement and we all have high hopes that people will enjoy it.
I was excited to see Maggie Q was cast as "Nikita"..
The whole cast's pedigree is really top-notch. Were you excited to work with everyone? Is the cast gelling together?
Oh, it's great. We all came together in Toronto and spent many days and evenings together since. Everyone gels and it's fantastic because we have actors as young as 22 or 23 and a few of us who are a little bit older.
But we all are together like a family together already. We're definitely united. And we're also recovering from one of the worst times in Hollywood history, after the writer's strike ...
It's felt like slim pickings for the past few years for some of us and we're just very humbled and excited. Getting a pilot made is like winning the lottery, let alone have it become a successful series for years.
Have they talked to you about upcoming storylines?
Obviously, Nikita will continue her fight against Division, but have the producers and writers gone into more detail?
You know we're in an age of absolute secrecy and there are guidelines.
Yeah, I confess, I'm trying to get spoilers out of you.
Is there anything you can reveal?
As the show goes on, I think there's going to be back story on all of the characters and how they got to these points in their lives.
But ultimately, I don't have knowledge of how this show is going to go, I just know that my character isn't about makeup and hair. She has a lot more to offer and she's definitely going to represent the female villain in this situation.
I guess Division is the villain and Maggie Q is the hero, but like I said I don't have specific plots. But the next episode is just as exciting as the pilot in my mind.
And I can't wait to have a catfight between Maggie and myself.
Last edited by JamesG : 09-09-2010 at 02:53 PM.
|09-09-2010, 02:51 PM||#2|
Join Date: Feb 01, 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Shane West Talks "Nikita"
by Kim Potts
posted Sept 9th 2010
If "Nikita" is like "Alias", then "Once and Again" and "ER" vet Shane West is its Michael Vartan, which is just one selling point of The CW's new spin on the La Femme Nikita story.
With the show set to premiere tonight (9PM ET), TV Squad caught up with West to discuss his cool, stylishly-outfitted Michael, the main handler for recruits of Division, a super secret government agency that has some hinky agendas (including abandoning its one-time star spy, Maggie Q's titular Nikita).
Congratulations on the new show. The "Nikita" pilot is one of the most fun pilots of the new season.
Oh, thank you, thank you. We're pretty proud of it ... we have a good project ahead of us.
We're into episode six, and all of them have been amazing so far. So we're very excited.
You've only been involved with really good TV shows so far, with "Once and Again" and "ER" before "Nikita".
What made you sign on for this one, for more of an action role?
Well, first of all, thank you.
And secondly, I wasn't even sure if I was going to necessarily do television this year, but when I had come back from Europe in the winter of last year, it became a very huge pilot season.
I hadn't been a part of a pilot season since I had done "Once and Again", but there were so many good shows that were coming out, some that were picked up, some probably that weren't.
And when "Nikita" came along, once I found out that Maggie Q was playing it, I was sold. But also for the possibility of playing the character of Michael, which I was actually a little bit younger than I think they wanted in the beginning.
But with such a multi-layered character and so much going on with him, it was kind of a character that I just felt was right for me to do.
And, you know, the right people were behind it ... it was pretty much a movie cast, and professionals that know what they're doing.
And you get the action in there, I get to be wearing suits every day, and I get to be playing a character that is ... that I think I was jealous of not being able to do in the past.
Is it fun to play that kind of suave spy guy with, as you said, the cool suits and the gadgets?
It's great. I think that's what a lot of guys would like to do. You know, you're playing spy or cops and robbers or whatever it is growing up, and even superhero to an extent.
What's great about playing Michael, as you just mentioned, his style and how fun it can be, is that he's also conflicted about everything that's gone on in his past and whatever might be going on with Nikita.
So even though he gets to be super cool, he's not smilin' very often.
Yes, Michael's pretty intense in the pilot, but there are definitely hints that there's another side to him, especially with Nikita.
Where does the character go after the premiere?
You know, I think that after being in episode six now, we started it yesterday, he does get far less intense than the pilot. But that is a first episode that needs to be .. you know, things were going along.
When I'm talking to Alex [Lyndsy Fonseca] and telling her what's going on with her life, that was, you know, a speech I had done by rote, to a million different recruits that had come in.
But over time, you can see him caring for Alex a little bit, because she kind of becomes another Nikita, so he's protective of his star students. You can see him rebelling against Percy [Xander Berkeley] a lot.
There's a lot of ... he opens up a lot more. And he's always going to be intense, but I don't think he's quite as intense as he was in the pilot.
Basically, I think the best that I can put it, or the only thing I can maybe even really say right now, is he's had his family in some sense of the word taken away from him.
I don't know if that means parents or wife and kids or what, but he joined Division. He was saved by Division and by Percy, so he feels a loyalty to that. But he also knows that they're corrupt.
He also knows that they do certain things that are good and certain things that he doesn't agree with. And that's where a lot of the conflict comes from.
So, by episode six, are we getting a lot more of Michael's backstory?
No. Not yet. They're leading -- there are so many story lines to do. What we've done a lot in one through six is bringing Michael and Nikita together.
Part of the storyline is bringing Michael and Nikita together, and now we have to find a way to drive a wedge in between them. It's not hard to bring Michael and Nikita together. It's hard to keep them apart.
So right now, we're trying to drive a wedge in between them with a few other characters, as you'll see, as the season goes on. Apparently soon, though, there's supposed to be a backstory episode.
Right now it's a lot of cat and mouse.
There's a lot to set up in the pilot, in just that one episode, but it definitely leaves us wanting to know more about all the characters ...
I think you kind of get invested in every one of them, and you do want to know what their backgrounds are. And the great thing about it is, none of the backgrounds are going to be easy.
They're all going to be crazy, you know, because people that work in Division have to have a pretty interesting background to have gotten in. The recruits obviously have a messed up background, considering they could be dead in their previous lives.
So they obviously have something interesting. And Nikita did at some point. So they'll all be unique to some extent.
Does Michael become action guy as the season goes on?
Oh yeah! In fact, he's kind of calmed down in the last couple of episodes that we've done. But pretty much from the second episode.
What's kind of funny about the pilot is, the biggest joke, was I never even fired my gun. Like, no fights, had a gun a bunch of times, but never fired it.
They took me to gun training, and I was just laughing. It was like 5 o'clock in the morning, and I was like, 'You guys realize I'm not firing a gun in the pilot?' And they're like, 'Oh! OK, thanks.' 'I'm going to go back to sleep. Thank you.'
But it changes quickly in episode two.
Did you go through any training to do the fight sequences, the action stuff?
Not really. There are things that I'm getting into since I've been out here in Toronto.
I found an indoor rock climbing place, which is pretty amazing, and is just great for your core and your arms. I've joined my own gym. I'm about to do some boxing classes.
I think the biggest thing, and the most important thing, I think, for all of us to do is, believe it or not, more yoga or stretching. Because we're not learning to perfect these moves. We're learning to make this work correctly on film and to not hurt each other.
A lot of times we're learning all of this stuff the night before we shoot, which is pretty incredible.
And thankfully all of us are natural athletes to an extent. And then hopefully you just get it from there.
I could go start taking taekwondo or jujitsu or any sort of classes, just to help me out, but there's nothing to say that I'm going to need to do that on the show.
So the biggest, the best, the easiest way to do it is to stay active, go to a gym, but anything active. It can just be running. And basically something to strengthen your core so that you have more endurance to deal with whatever they might throw you.
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