Maggie Q must be one of the hardest working actresses in the industry. When she’s not training, shooting and learning languages, she’s trying to get to sleep before 8 a.m.
The Nikita star was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk in depth with TV Fanatic about her role as on The CW hit, Mikita, where the series is heading, and pretty much everything else you’d want to know about the show.
How much training did you have to go through for this role?
I read about myself often and it always says martial arts expert and it’s so bizarre because I’m the furthest thing from a martial arts expert. I’ve never taken a class, I wasn’t raised doing it… I remember when I started doing my own action; I couldn’t even touch my toes. I was so inflexible and I didn’t even know how to throw a punch, and that was 14 years ago. When I started for this, it really was from the bottom up.
Do you have a stunt double?
I do everything. I do my fights. I do 98% of my stunts. There’s an occasional thing I won’t do, like fall on a break a leg table. Why? [Because] I have so much more shit to do than fall on a table [laughs]. I won’t put myself in that position for no reason. There are certain things that leads just won’t take because without you nothing can happen.
Is it easy for you to snap out of your character’s frame of mind after filming?
It is and it isn’t. The turnover with TV is something a lot of people don’t understand. Sometimes, I’ll have action in the morning and this emotional scene at the end of the day. You have to compartmentalize and be these different people very quickly at different times, which is unlike film. It is really difficult. I’ll go home at the end of the day and not understand why I cant get out of a certain funk and realize that I had to immerse myself into it so quickly, I didn’t take the time to step out of it. I have learned that over this season, which has been difficult for me. This is my first time as a lead on an American TV show, so I’m learning what the balance is about and how to maintain my own mental sanity and be able to give my character the weight it deserve when it deserves it and not burn out physically and emotional. It’s been hard, very hard.
How many languages do you speak, and will we get to see Nikita speak them?
Eight. In Nikita, we’ve seen the eight languages, and at length. There was one episode where I had 24 lines, four pages of Russian. Also French and Arabic and Polish and Czech and Chinese. I have more language coaches than anyone on TV, I guarantee you [laughs]. I have no life.
What makes Alex so special to Nikita?
When it came to Alex, she heard about this mission where the targets were her parents. When she found out there was a young girl involved, there was a pause. Nikita, being the young kid, abused, adopted, bad family, the only saving grace in her life, who’d given her any empathy or sympathy for anyone or anything, was her mother. We haven’t gotten into her background at all, really. She was shown kindness by one or two people in her life. One of them was the woman who adopted her. In that life, she experienced some kind of kindness, but largely she was in a position of abuse and wanted to get out of. There’s something about when you see a position that someone else is in that mirror what you have always wanted to rectify and save within yourself. I think that was a big factor for her that night. She saw a young girl at the age of 13, stranded without anything; no parents, hope or a future. A big part of it Alex is Nikita wanting to save herself. Looking for redemption in that one person that she feels she can’t have with other people, and that’s she’d never been able to attain or achieve. This becomes really a mission not only about a child she wanted to save, but herself. Some kind of redemption that I don’t know she will really get.
Which takes us back to the “I told myself if I could just find you, everything would be okay” quote.
Yeah. That’s painful shit. That’s the crux of when you see Nikita open up and the power of how bad she needs healing and forgiveness. Sometimes when that’s the thing you search for most, it may or may not be the thing you actually get. We’ll see where this journey takes her. I don’t even think Alex knows where that comes from, being young and raised in a wealthy household. Nikita doesn’t want Alex is experience the things she has and the prolonged pain, which is why she’s trying to get her out as quickly as possible. The search for redemption continues.
Is there hope for Michael and Nikita?
I think so. In terms of Michael and Nikita, there’s something about unrequited love and something you’ve felt and wanted and was undeniable and couldn’t have. Not because you didn’t love each other, but because of circumstance. With them there is genuine love. When its deeper than what they’ve actually shown, there’s always a chance when that exists. However that’s going to pan out… there is something very undeniable and electric that’s going to come to a head. They work very well together too, so that will be an interesting to see as well.
Talk about your relationship with Shane West. When we spoke to him, he said his chemistry with you was automatic.
It was weird. We arrived in Toronto for the pilot and we were doing camera tests. I arrived first because I had the most costume changes, etc. The second person to come in was Shane, and I didn’t know him at all. I knew he was a features actor, I didn’t know what he’d done on TV. I had a friend who’d worked with him, and she said he was a wonderful, great guy. I walked down the hallway and had never met him, but I bee lined him and threw my arms around him and hugged him. It was that moment where it’s like, ‘Hi, you’re the person I’m now going to be spending all of my time with.’ It was this natural, tight hug. We’re both 80’s kids, we like the same movies. Can you imagine if I had to try to get along with him as a person?
It seems that everyone at Division (with the exception of Percy) had a special connection with Nikita. Was Nikita content with being in Division before they murdered her fiancé?
No. We got a little bit of that in a flashback where she was always wavering. That’s one of the crosses Nikita has always had to bear. Nikita prepped Alex to be a star within Division. Alex was trained. Nikita going into Division wasn’t prepped, but she went into Division and became a star because it was a part of who she is. That’s a hard thing to deal with. That’s not a good thing when you go into an agency and you’re so good at it and have the skills you were looking for to be a star killer. They found her for a reason, which is the background nobody knows about. The fact that she could become a star is something that’s always made her sick inside.
If Alex leaves, as she hinted at on the last episode, Nikita wouldn’t have anyone on the inside anymore, right?
Exactly. Nikita’s got to have her inside mole. Everyone said that episode was a game changer. I disagree. I think the last episode was the introduction to what the real game changer is. The real game changer is the next episode. There’s so much emotion and depth in the next episode, you’re going to see two people balls out, and you’ll understand them so much more as people. Forgetting the action, this episode gets into who they are as people, and it will effect people. The next episode will pick up where the last left off with Michael in Nikita, but it will start with something else; something happy. You’ll also see Nikita vulnerable like you never have before, and it’s really sad.
On another note, I know you’re very involved in animal rights. Why is this so important to you?
It goes way, way back. When I was a kid I had this incredibly profound connection to animals. A lot of the connections you have with people, even, energy is huge. Because animals don’t have the ability to speak, when you have a connection with them, it’s so much stronger than when you have a connection with words. When I learned that these worthy-of-respect being weren’t being treated with as much love and support as they should when they provided for me when I was young, I couldn’t bear it. It killed me, and I’ve gotten physically ill from some of the things I’ve seen. The abuse I’ve seen is devastating. I won’t even let my sisters know some of the things I know. You can’t unknow what you know.