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Charlie’s Angels – Rachael Taylor and her wry quality

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Charlie's Angels - Rachael Taylor
Abby Sampson (Rachael Taylor) © 2011 ABC

A native of Austrailia, Rachael Taylor was introduced to global audiences when she appeared in the 2007 blockbuster Transformers. She went on to star in the psychological thriller Shutter with Joshua Jackson and the independent comedy Bottle Shock with Alan Rickman and Chris Pine.

Taylor made her US television debut earlier this year in a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy, and is now one of the stars of the updated version of Charlie’s Angels.

In the series she portrays Abby Sampson, a Park Avenue princess who became a world-class thief, who along with Kate Prince (Annie Ilonzeh) a Miami cop who fell from grace, and Eve, a street racer with a mysterious past, is given a second chance for redemption by the mysterious Charlie Townsend. As part of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ they will solve cases and mete out there unique justice. Along for the ride is John Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez), a computer hacker who enjoys being surrounded by beautiful, powerful women.

How did you get the role of Abby?

Charlie's Angels, 1.02 - Rachael Taylor and Minka Kelly
Episode 1.02 "Runway Angels" - Abby Sampson (Rachael Taylor) and Eve French (Minka Kelly) © 2011 ABC

I’m just a gig-to-gig actress that auditioned and got the part, so it’s quite easy to overlook any qualities that might be complementary [to other actresses who have played the ‘Angels’]. But for whatever reason when I read this script it was undeniable to me that I had to audition for it and I had to do it.

The character to me was so on-point, there’s a wry quality, there’s a warm quality, she’s a girl’s girl, there was something in it that I just knew that I was the perfect match for it. And only twice in my life have I ever read a script that I knew that I was the right person for the job.

How empowering is it to do all the physical action?

It’s amazing, because I’m not a natural athlete. Annie Ilonzeh played college sports, she’s incredibly well equipped in terms of her physical capabilities. I’m not that person. I grew up indoors reading books.

But now I have this whole new degree of empowerment, particularly around self-defense, which is something I think all women should learn, and I feel really quite proud of myself that I have this new found physical strength.

I love the action stuff, and certainly it’s high-octane, and it’s exciting. And I think viewers will be satisfied on all of those levels. But I think there is a genuine chemistry and a genuine warmth between the four of us. You can’t really fake that. I think it bleeds onto the screen.

I think that we’re a part of something really special, because we like each other.

What kind of training did you do for this?

Charlie's Angels, 1.02 - Rachael Taylor and Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Ramon Rodriguez
Abby Sampson (Rachael Taylor) and Eve French (Minka Kelly), Kate Prince (Annie Ilonzeh) and Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez) © 2011 ABC

I did different types of training. Basic martial arts, but also my character’s thing is parkour which is the French martial arts where the theory is that you go over or through anything. So you jump over fences and if there’s a car in the way you just go over the top of it. It’s quite extraordinary, balletic and beautiful.

It’s the kind of stuff you saw in The Bourne Supremacy, I think, it’s quite gritty.

What did you think when you read that in the script, ‘I jump over a car?’

I thought, ‘Jesus!’ But I realized I do have a natural athletic ability, I’m quite quick. I’m not necessarily strong, but I’m fast. And again, in terms of spending a year or maybe two years, depending on how long [the series goes], getting physically strong, fit and capable is a pretty incredible gift to give yourself as an actor or as a person.

The original series had quite a gay following, how aware were you of that?

Charlie's Angels - Rachael Taylor
Abby Sampson (Rachael Taylor) © 2011 ABC

I’ve been chastised for using the word camp, but I’m still going to use it. I think there is something inherently spirited and fun about Charlie’s Angels. I think that’s just part of what the brand is; that it has a reflective wink at itself. Everything’s done with a degree of glamor, and there’s this aspirational quality to it.

Having said that, what is really important to our writers and to us is to make the show credible. But I think our gay audience, of which I have a lot of love and respect for, should be suitably satisfied.

You weren’t around when the original series premiered, what was your knowledge of the first Charlie’s Angels?

I haven’t seen the original show, but I did that for a reason. I think it’s important to respect the incredible legacy of Charlie’s Angels. Obviously it’s quite an iconic label, and I take the passing of the baton quite seriously.

I also think, for actors, it’s always important to do something fresh. I think it’s important to do an incarnation of Charlie’s Angels that is appropriate and befitting of this time. So I didn’t want to get into the pattern of trying to repeat anything tonally, because we’re doing something that’s original and fresh.

Would you watch the original series now?

I’ve been crucified for not watching it, so perhaps I should!