Laura Vandervoort is no stranger to genre television. The Canadian-born actress has appeared in such fare as Mutant X, The Dresden Files and her recurring role as Supergirl in the WB’s Smallville. In V, she plays Lisa, daughter of Anna (played by Morena Baccarin) leader of the alien invasion fleet, but Lisa soon finds herself conflicted between loyalty to her own race and newly-discovered feelings for human boyfriend Tyler (Logan Huffman).
During a recent East Coast convention visit to promote V’s second season, Vandervoort talked about some of the developments in her current role, as well as her growing body of genre work…
How has your character changed in season two?
This season, Lisa is very much more opinionated. She’s driven, she knows what she wants and she’s able to be a little more defiant with her mother. She is still being groomed to be the queen, but I’m not sure that’s really what she wants and with Grandma around now, it might threaten her place on the throne or grandma could be on the same side and help her defy Anna.
It’s great with the mother-daughter relationships; it’s very disturbing what Anna did to her last season and I think she’s going to try to seek her revenge this season and because she’s very much in love with Tyler, Anna is pulling him away from her and from Erica. I’m working a lot with Erica this season as well.
Is it to work with the additional technical elements of a show like this?
I’ve been doing a lot of sci-fi lately, from Smallville to Riverworld, so almost everything I’ve been doing has been sci-fi. It’s a great genre, because you’re able to get above and beyond the emotional realm of what is considered normal but at the same time with Lisa, I get to play both sides. When she’s on the ship, she’s very much a robot.
The great thing about our show is it’s not sci-fi. Our dialogue is very emotionally-based. Sure, we’re on a green-screen ship and it looks incredible, but it is all about the emotions and the relationships. And then when she’s off the ship, I’m able to show full emotional scale, with Erica especially, who has become almost a mother figure to her.
You see a completely different side to Lisa this season that you haven’t seen, but she is very much like Anna at this time. She’s getting that little Anna smirk and she’s willing to do what it takes.
As an actor, what do you do to remind the audience that your character is an alien?
At the beginning of last season, we all had little tangibles that the V characters had. Anna has an eye flick and my character did a little lick of the lips, which was a very lizard thing. Whenever she’s around Tyler, she was ‘tasting’ him. She was very aroused by him so she’d use her tongue and no one ever noticed, which was great because that’s what I wanted.
Obviously there are little things that show we’re not human. We don’t move very much and we don’t relax. We’re always very proper but there is always the odd little head turn and those little things are so minor which is what you would want but I think it shows that difference between them and the humans.
So you have that secret with the audience, but at the same time there are always the scenes that show the lizard skin, and that second when the audience says, ‘Oh my God, I forgot that she’s a lizard!’ The minute that I’m crying emotionally like a human, maybe my skin flaps open and you see the lizard so it’s always nice to have that to show the audience.
So are we literally going to be seeing more of Lisa’s reptilian side this season?
She’s going through some changes as a young lizard and trying to deal with them and keep them under control. I’ve also done a full body scan recently, so I can tell you that there is going to be a little more of Lisa’s lizard side. For the scan, you sit in a chair and make different expressions and hold your body in different poses while four cameras rotate around you and take snapshots.
In this case, it’s a place called Gentle Giant in Burbank and these cameras are amazing. They scan your entire body and the physical outline shows up on camera and they take photos of the color of your skin and mold it all together.
Do you keep in touch with your fans online at all?
I’m like 90 years old: I don’t have Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, I don’t even have an I-Phone, but I do have a website that I update. It’s a fan site that someone made and if people have questions I try to answer them, but coming to these comic conventions is a great way to talk to people. They tell you what they want to see from your character and what they like and what they don’t like and it’s good to hear that too,
Is it fun to play characters that are iconic?
Yes and no. Anybody would be an idiot to say that don’t want to play an iconic character, because it’s a great experience and it means so much to people and you get a great fan base and you’ll always have that. I’ll be able to say to my kids, ‘I was Supergirl!’ and they can’t say you weren’t. It’s fact, it’s out there and it was fun.
Of course Supergirl was another alien, but I think I was eventually able to create another, very different character. So it’s been really great and I’m so happy to have done it.
Do you have your own action figure yet?
Well, Supergirl does, but it’s not necessarily me. That’s one of the things I said on this show: ‘Now that you have these measurements, does that mean I can have an action figure?’ They were like, ‘Not yet!’ so it’s still possible!
Is there a concern that being too identified with the genre could become a limitation?
I’ve been working since I was 13 when I started doing background work, so it’s been a long process. I think being young, people might not always take you seriously or you might get typecast, but I try to fight that. I love to play the sci-fi roles that are strong females, but eventually I’d like to move outside the realm of television. I’d like to do some period pieces and that sort of thing.
The second season of V starrted on ABC on January 4th, 2011.