One of the most eagerly-awaited developments when V returned for a second season on January 4th is the return of a familiar face. Actress Jane Badler, who played alien leader Diana in the original 1983 mini-series as well as the follow-up mini and weekly series, will join the cast of the new version, playing the mother of Anna (Morena Baccarin), current leader of the alien ‘V’s.’ But while Badler’s new character is named Diana just as she was in the original, the resemblance very definitely ends there.
The actress recently sat down with V‘s executive producer/showrunner Steve Pearlman to talk about her addition to the series and how this Diana will soon begin shaking things up in this version as well…
Jane, how did you get involved with this season of V?
Jane Badler: I think it was a combination of things. It was definitely the best person for the job, because they auditioned me along with a lot of other people so I had to fight and win this role and that’s a good feeling. It’s a good thing to fight and win a role.
I met the producer a couple of years ago and I could see they weren’t that interested in bringing back any of the old characters, and then I met the new producer Scott Rosenbaum about a year ago and when this role came up, they called my agent in Australia and said, ‘We’d like Jane to audition for a role,’ and it was called Diana, and I said, ‘Oh my God, this is pathetic!’
I had to audition for Diana, but I could understand that and they actually weren’t convinced that I was the right person for the role until I auditioned.
Steve Pearlman: We didn’t set out to bring Jane Badler into the show. We set out to introduce Anna’s mother. The goal was to cast the best actress in the role, but there was always the intrigue of, ‘What if it was Jane Badler?’ I think the fans certainly spoke very loudly and clearly about that and we got the message.
But we had a lot of actors who were interested in the role. We had a lot of people read and test for it and Jane won the part, so any baggage that she brings to this character has all been fantastic. The character is a unique characters; it’s not the same character that she played in the original series.
There are certainly opportunities to pay tribute to the original series; she wears a red dress and that was deliberate, but if we had a different actor playing the role, she probably would have worn a red dress too. That was not something specifically done because of Jane.
But this is not the same character from the original series, is it?
Jane: It’s not the same character. They called her Diana in reference to pay homage to the old character, never really thinking I might be playing her again. It’s so bizarre that I tell you I had to fight for this, I really did.
You’re not playing her as the original Diana either, are you?
Jane: No. It feels different and yet it’s me and everything has to come from me. Morena is playing who I was; I was that character 25 years ago and now I’m a woman who has a lot of calm. I’m extremely patient, with tremendous dignity.
I am royalty; I am the real queen, who’s been put into exile by her daughter, and I’m not impetuous like the old Diana. There’s none of that with her. She’s very still, she’s very measured and if it takes a hundred years in lizard time, I will take that time to gain power again.
So Anna is the alpha female until you come in?
Jane: I don’t care who you are, you can be an alien or a lizard; your mother is your mother and your mother has power over you. You always care what your mother thinks. That in itself gives me power over her and I know that.
How does the addition of Jane’s character affect the mother/daughter dynamics you’ve already created in the series?
Steve: There is certainly in this show a mother versus mother direction to our storytelling and I think that will always be there. The core of this show is always going to be Anna versus Erica and the parties that they represent, Anna representing the aliens and Erica representing mankind.
The addition of Jane has played, at this point production-wise where we are now in the series, in the current season, has played only with Anna, but what that’s allowed us to do in terms of mothers specifically, is to be able to play mother/daughter. We’re also playing with a mother/daughter relationship on various levels between Erica and Lisa which we saw the beginnings of at the end of last season.
Certainly being able to see Anna and her mother and how they play off of one another and be able to see how they’re similar and how they’re different and where Anna would have diverged from her mother has been a really fun area for us to go to in the storytelling.
Jane, has it been useful to have your knowledge and experience from the original series?
Jane: The minute I saw the scenes, I said, ‘I can do this; I know exactly what to do with this!’ It just came to me very easily. Some things you have to work at, but this one came easily, so they saw my test and the fans never kept quiet. They were so strong about it, so I think they made the right decision. I think it was a good thing to pay homage to the old series, I really do.
How do you create an alien character while still looking human?
Jane: Everything starts with human emotion. Even though you don’t show human emotion, it all comes down to looking at the story and deciding what you want and what’s important to you. You have to make it real, because that’s what we are; we’re humans.
Once you do that, it’s all in the eyes. You can’t use big gestures. You have to be very still. There’s a lot of stillness. Everything just comes out of the eyes and I think that’s the whole thing: it’s the way you present yourself.