The visitors are back. When the popular alien invasion series returned to ABC on January 4, the ‘V’s’ continue their not-too-subtle plans to conquer Earth’s population and take possession of the planet’s resources. But for the alien leader Anna (played by Morena Baccarin), there are other problems that have to be confronted. Not only does she have to deal with her increasingly-rebellious daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) but Anna has to deal with the arrival of her own mother Diana, played by original series star Jane Badler.
During a recent East Coast visit to promote the upcoming second season of V, Baccarin talked about the challenges of playing an alien in human guise, as well as her feelings about the series in general…
One of the biggest developments in season two is the introduction of original cast member Jane Badler as Anna’s mother, Diana. Could you talk a little bit about the mother/daughter elements of the series?
How are any mother-daughter relationships, really? They’re complicated. She knows how to push my buttons and it will continue to be something that Anna struggles with.
What was it like working with Jane? Did you talk to her at all about the original series?
Yeah, I asked her a lot of questions about it and what it must be like for her to be doing the same show 20 years later, if that was trippy and weird but she’s loving it. She’s having a good time and I think it’s great that she’s agreed to do it. It’s going to be fun for the fans to see it.
Can you use any of her experiences to inform your own performance?
Perhaps. As I’m talking to you now, I might be soaking something up. I don’t know; I didn’t consciously ask her for any tips on the character, because I think they’re very different women.
Do you have to do something from time to time that reminds the audience that your character is an alien?
I try to justify it in the moments that I can; weird things that Anna has to do. I take that as an opportunity to do it in a lizard way, which I think is more fun.
I think in the everyday stuff it’s creepier if you forget and you think she’s human and then she turns around and eats a rodent and it’s like, ‘Wait a second, did she just do that?’ I think that’s the scary part of it.
How do you ‘do things in a lizard way?’
Well, in my studies of lizards [laughs]. I can’t describe it; it’s like divine intuition. I did look at lizard mating videos for that mating scene, because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and then I came up with some stuff that I saw online.
I just try to think of a fun way as an actor to do something physical. Sometimes they tell me it sucks and then I don’t do it and I’ve done things that haven’t been so great.
Is it difficult to keep track of the show’s mythology elements?
You just have to show up for work and do the words and the story that you’ve been given for that episode that week. If something changes or something is added, you play that. There’s no perfect way to do it so you just do your best.
As you get ready for the debut of season two, what is it that brings viewers back to this series?
I think it’s a series that people can relate to. It’s not just a freaky sci-fi show with a lot of really weird gimmicks.
There’s a mother-son relationship, there are kids and a young romance. There are mother-daughter relationships and inter-species relationships.
There are all kinds of complicated relationships, but I also think the ultimate curiosity that humans have about the unknown and what’s out there; all those elements all play into why people want to watch the show, not to mention that it’s really entertaining.
Was there anything in season one that perhaps you feel didn’t work as well?
Not really. It’s just been about ironing out the stories and getting a clear path for where we’re going with the show.
What interest do you have in the genre yourself?
I was never really into sci-fi. I did see V as a kid; who didn’t? I got completely freaked out by it and was told never to watch it again. And I was into things like Labyrinth and Star Wars growing up- Labyrinth was on my plane last night from Air Canada- I thought that was so cool. Sci-fi is something I don’t gravitate towards, but I don’t dislike. For me, it’s a matter of, what is a good movie or a good show?
Is there a certain balance that has to be met between the drama and science fiction elements of the series?
I try not to think about it too much, because I think it would take away from my work. I just want to keep this character real and realistic.
I also don’t want to alienate and ostracize an entire audience that is interested in the drama aspect of it that isn’t necessarily the sci-fi so I think it’s an all-encompassing kind of thing. If I was to focus just on the sci-fi, I would be leaving out a whole group of people.
You’ve built up a fan following between projects like Firefly and Stargate, haven’t you?
I sure I have. I will be forever grateful to Joss Whedon for Firefly, because I think it was one of the best things I ever did. And it was the most fun I ever had working on anything to this day.
From that, I was able to get other jobs from other people who had watched the show and were fans of mine. And the fans are so loyal and watch everything I do. I really appreciate that.
What do you think it is that makes this show real and relatable?
I think we’re telling real stories. We’re dealing with health care and the green crisis and issues that we deal with on a daily basis as human beings. We are not a show that is talking about the Klingons. We’re dealing with very human things in an alien way, which I find fascinating.