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Nikita – Maggie Q, an assassin with a heart

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Nikita 2.09 - Maggie Q
Episode 2.09 "Fair Trade" - Nikita (Maggie Q) ©2011 The CW Network

Actress Maggie Q explains the challenges of playing an assassin with a heart.

In the popular CW series Nikita, Maggie Q plays the eponymous assassin trying to stop the covert agency known as Division from recruiting troubled teens as potential killers. Q is the latest actress to take on the role, following Anne Parillaud in the 1990 French film, La Femme Nikita, Bridget Fonda in the US remake, Point of no Return and Peta Wilson in the 1990s TV series.

Q’s character is just as lethal as her big and small-screen predecessors, but during a recent break from the show’s second season, she focused on some of the more emotional aspects of Nikita and her fellow cast members.

What kind of arc have you seen for your character in the first two seasons?

Nikita 2.02 - Maggie Q and Shane West
Episode 2.02 "Falling Ash" - Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) ©2011 The CW Network

What I like about season two is that there is a semi-role reversal. You had Nikita as the driven entity in season one, where she had this revenge tale that she was telling, but as you get into revenge you find out that it’s actually not the best idea.

In that search for the answers, another ‘R’ word, reconciliation started coming into the picture, because it’s not just about what you want payback for. In the end, it becomes what you can fix and then how you can live with yourself

Going into season two, Nikita is still driven and still a bad-ass and wants to right wrongs, but what you’re going to see with her that you didn’t see in season one is Nikita is looking for that home. She is looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very faint, but her hope is that it’s going to get brighter and brighter- hopefully.

She doesn’t want to do this forever, and Michael’s idea of opening up the black box, and going in and trying to fix these things is not Nikita’s idea. It’s Michael’s.

Nikita 2.07 - Matthew Glave and Maggie Q
Episode 2.07 "Clawback" - Gaines (Matthew Glave) and Nikita (Maggie Q) ©2011 The CW Network

In season one, Nikita was like, ‘I destroy them; they’re gone; nobody has to hurt anymore. What’s done is done!’ Because she loves Michael and because part of her obviously wants to be the Boy Scout and do what she can, can you really right wrongs in that way?

We’re going to see examples of that coming up, where you want to go in and do something better. But there is cause and effect. If you’re going to create the cause again, it’s going to affect somebody again and it may be positive or it may be negative.

What Nikita is struggling with this season big-time is whether or not it’s the right answer to right wrongs or to just end what she can end and move on and actually have a home. She’s never had a home that she felt safe in and trusted, so that’s her search this season.

Your co-star Shane West has hinted that Michael is the one who really screws up your relationship in an upcoming episode. Can you tell us more about that?

Nikita 2.06 - Shane West and Maggie Q
Episode 2.06 "343 Walnut Lane" - Michael (Shane West) and Nikita (Maggie Q) ©2011 The CW Network

It’s always the men, isn’t it? The thing is, Michael gets put into a position that’s really tough to figure out. I don’t think he would ever intentionally screw up what he has with Nikita, but it does get messed with, just because of what the circumstances are.

I think there’s a moment of heartbreak in episode eight- and I don’t think anybody is going to see it coming either- where he could say something different but he doesn’t. That’s why she makes a decision and every woman at that moment is going to be like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve been there!

You just didn’t say the thing I wanted to hear! It’s not something shallow that is just going to make me feel better about myself; you really didn’t say the one important thing that you were supposed to say when I posed a certain question,’ and the result of that is very sad.

Is there anything you’ve learned about Nikita so far that has really surprised you?

Nikita 2.08 - Helena Mattsson, Maggie Q and Shane West
Episode 2.08 "London Calling" - Cassandra (Helena Mattsson), Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) ©2011 The CW Network

That would definitely be episode six, where we really got to see Nikita lose it. We’ve never really seen her lose it before, ever. She’s always been a vessel of calm, but there are a couple of things in Nikita’s life that she has not resolved, that hurt her immensely and are part of the reason that she is.

They push her forward into the world but painfully, like a knife in the back. The truth and reality of that comes out in episode six, and it’s super-sad.

I remember after we shot a scene where she feels so betrayed, one of the cameramen came after me and said, ‘Hey, can I talk to you for a second? I just wanted to tell you that the look in your eye when everything falls apart; it hurt me!’ I said, ‘Oh good!’ because I needed to hurt the audience. I needed them to feel the pain of what happens to her in that episode, so hopefully they will.

Is there anything you would still like to see in the series?

The good thing is that [showrunner] Craig Silverstein and I always say that we were separated at birth- even though we look a little different! I’ll call Craig about an idea and before I start pitching it, he’ll say, ‘I know what you’re going to say!’ We’ll start pitching at the same time and it’s the same thing!

Or I’ll call him about an edit and say, ‘I have a problem with something…’and I haven’t said what it is at all yet, but he’ll say, ‘Listen, I know that shot…’ and I’ll say, ‘How do you know what shot I’m talking about?’

We’ve been so on the same page that we almost pitch simultaneously and it’s been this very crazy love affair that we have with one another that has always worked for us. I’m so grateful for that, because we do have the same ideas for what we want. So it’s been a really great relationship- so far!