Maggie Q has been doing martial arts for many years, which is evident in her new CW series Nikita. Based on the movie and TV show La Femme Nikita, Maggie portrays a young assassin set on bringing down the organization that trained her to be a killer.
Maggie initially gained fame in Hong Kong action thrillers such as Gen-Y Cops and Naked Weapon. Returning to the States, she has been seen in Mission Impossible III, Live Free or Die Hard and Balls of Fury.
I spoke with Maggie recently about her new venture as Nikita.
You’ve starred in many martial arts movies. Does your physical regimen have to be amped up significantly when you do a series like this?
You have to. Shane (West, her co-star in the series) had to do this fight, and he had to learn it really quickly, and he was really sore. And I thought about it, we have both done action movies. He’s done TV.
I have never done TV, but we’ve never done an action television show, which is a whole other deal. So really your level never goes down. You have to be on your game all the time. We have action in every episode, there’s no time to go, ‘Well, I’m going to let myself go for a second, and then I’m going to bring the level back.’
Do you find yourself slinking home at night and just crawling into bed?
I don’t do anything else but sleep when I’m not working. I have no life. I’m no fun. All I want to do is sleep and get ready for the next day. It’s awesome.
Have they spaced out the action sequences for you with an episode that you don’t have to do so many things closer together, so you can take a breath while you’re shooting?
I feel like I can breathe. When I started in film, I was living and working in Asia, and I swear to you, when we did films there, it was so fast. It was much like TV. They did films sometimes in two weeks, and so I actually realize now that I’m very used to this pace, and I kind of enjoy focusing, getting it out of the way, and saying, ‘Let’s get going.’
Which worries you more? Knowing that you have a day where you’re going to have to shoot a big action scene or a big emotional scene with a lot of dialogue?
You know what worries me, doing them on the same day, which we do sometimes because TV is so fast. You’re here and then you’re there, and sometimes you don’t know where you are!
Have you had any big injuries?
I’ve had everything. It’s ridiculous. I haven’t broken anything, but I’ve cracked and fractured a lot of different body parts.
In the pilot you get to dress up and wear an elegant gown. Is that fun for you or is it just an annoyance because it takes so much time to do?
I’ve gotten to that point where I’m so used to being sweaty and wearing pants and sitting like a guy in boots, when I’m dressed up and people are touching me up and doing the whole thing, I’m less comfortable doing that. I like to wear less makeup and be tougher. The primp stuff I think is exciting for people, but it’s less exciting for me.
I like low maintenance. It’s about the characters. It’s about the acting. It’s about the story, it’s not about blush!
Are there any female action stars that you admire?
Angelina Jolie is a perfect example. I remember seeing promotions for Salt and getting really excited and hoping that it did well. It’s good for females in the industry to be able to headline and carry something that traditionally men carried, which didn’t happen before. They’re using incredible actors now in these big action roles.
You see Angelina Jolie in a movie like Salt and she’s very believable, but not because she’s super tough or has more muscles than the next girl. she’s an incredible actress, and that toughness comes from a place that’s very internal, which is the reason why she’s so good at what she does.
When I was living in Hong Kong, I looked to Michelle Yo and people like that. I admire them because it was the combination of things that they brought to screen that really worked. Not that I’m in that position, I know how hard it is, my admiration has just been heightened.
Can you talk about the relationship with your stunt coordinator Branko? There must be an inordinate level of trust there.
Yeah, you’re right, there has to be, for all of us. I really like him. He’s very straightforward. He picks up very quickly on what our strengths and weaknesses are.
I’m very vocal also with him about what I like and what I don’t like. So when Danny (Cannon, the series’ Executive Producer and Director) says it’s a dance, it really is. It’s like he’s my partner. We go through this sort of dance, and I say, ‘You’re stepping on my toes a little bit. This is what I need from you.’ And he’s like, ‘Okay. Well, this works better for me. What do you think about this?’
No one is good at everything, so you have to play up your strengths. So he does design (fights) based on what it is that looks better, because everybody looks different when they fight. Some people are more flexible than others. And there’s a level of trust because it’s a big safety issue too. So you have to have a close relationship, so I make sure I’m nice to him!