The fall TV season has just begun but it’s safe to say that Nikita star Maggie Q is definitely one of the breakouts. The actress, best known for her role in Mission: Impossible III, is both beautiful and bad-ass as the titular assassin seeking revenge. EW talked with the star on a break from filming the CW action drama on location in Toronto.
How did you get attached to Nikita? Did you audition?
The process all happened really fast. It was literally four or five days and the deal was done. It’s like on Monday I knew nothing about Nikita and on Friday I was starring in Nikita. It was that quick.
You’ve had a successful movie career (Mission: Impossible III; Live Free or Die Hard). Did you wanna do TV?
It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never thought about it. It was never on the radar. If you do TV, America is the place to do it. Literally, it was not even in my head. But I think that Nikita is a very big profile-raiser in America. The power of TV is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. So I thought what a great opportunity to get to know the younger generation.
Besides that, what was it about the script or the character you were drawn to?
I loved the original film, the Luc Besson film. I never saw any other incarnation of Nikita. But the thing that I always loved about Nikita, the character, and that I thought Luc Besson was very smart about in the ’90s, was [creating] this incredibly flawed female. You’re rooting for her because she’s escaped. You’re rooting for her because she’s been given no choice in her life. But at the same time you’re dealing with somebody who’s taken on an enormous responsibility to get back at the people who not only have hurt her in her life but are hurting the country that she loves. I think flawed heroines are something that people relate to a lot more than they do to superheroes.
Do you feel nervous at all because like the posters are just you? This is the first time you’ve fronted something by yourself.
Thanks! I’m scared now [laughs]! People ask me whether I’m nervous, but I weirdly don’t feel nervous, and not because I don’t think I’ll fail. I’ve certainly failed in my life at different times and I’m sure I’ll fail again. It’s because I feel like the energy I put into pressure or feeling nervous, I could just put into something really great. That’s really my goal. My mind is all about work. I see those posters and I got, “S**t I better live up to that hype!” Not by taking more clothes off but by making something that people won’t forget. That’s what it is for me.
It’s such a different show for The CW.
You hit it on the nose. First of all, I have to give kudos to the studio and the network. They really thought outside the box on this one. Bringing Nikita to TV could be very risqué for this network. The pilot is a lot darker than any show they have on. The characters are only gonna get more darker. We’re gonna deal with more serious issues in the series.
You do a lot of stunts in this and there wasn’t a lot of preparation.
Were you just thrown into it?
Yeah, I’m always willing to punch or kick someone’s ass. That’s always on the menu for me to do. You can be in shape, but choreography is a whole other thing.
Let’s talk about the red bathing suit scene which is probably one of the most talked about moments of the pilot.
It was absolutely terrifying. Also, it was supposed to be a small scene. It’s like a private party of seven or eight people. I get to set and there’s like 100 hot extras with like massive t**s and they’re gorgeous. And I was like, “Really you guys?!” Now I’m walking around set looking like a 12-year old boy next to all these hot girls with huge boobs. I was so horrified. I was dying.
I heard you were a Jackie Chan protegé? What does that mean exactly?
Kind of, yeah. I don’t think it exists anymore, [but] Jackie Chan had a management company in Hong Kong where he managed young actors where he wanted to get to into the action genre. I was there and they noticed me and so they kind of picked me up as one of their actors. It’s not Jackie himself, because Jackie’s kind of a busy man but Jackie always has a hand in everything. His team of guys were really the people that broke me into the action genre.