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Tue, Sep 07, 2010
The New Paper
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The new and improved Maggie Q
by Juliana June Rasul

REMEMBER those long legs sliding out of that yellow Lamborghini in MI:3?

Yeah, where did they go?

After some high-profile roles in Hollywood – kicking butt with Tom Cruise (MI:3) and trading gunfire with Bruce Willis (Live Free Or Die Hard) – actress Maggie Q fell back into B-grade territory with roles in Balls of Fury and The King of Fighters.

Until this TV season.

The 31-year-old actress is all set to shake up prime time in the US with her stint as assassin-turned-good gal Nikita, in a remake of the original French film and American TV series Maggie Q’s Nikita will be the first truly Asian lead in a prime-time drama, after years of major but not-quite-lead roles for Asians on TV (John Cho in FlashForward, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim in Lost).

In a country usually swamped by new TV offerings each September, Maggie Q’s casting seems to be novel enough to have piqued the interest of the US press, with newspapers like The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal writing about the show even before its debut later this week.

Entertainment Weekly called it a “killer”.

Not bad for a show that is filled with lesser-knowns like Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass) and Shane West (A Walk To Remember), and which is opening on US network The CW, the home of teen-friendly Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and America’s Next Top Model.

New York magazine pointed out it was “a risk, anchoring a TV show with a relative unknown – you’d get more Americans acknowledging Q as the hot Asian chick in Mission: Impossible III than by name”.

Maggie Q herself acknowledged the unusual casting to LA Times, saying she knew she was “not the typical choice for this”.

“I am glad to be able to represent a group of people who are under-represented (on screen),” she said.

When asked about the casting choice, Nikita’s executive producer Craig Silverstein told New York magazine that Maggie Q was cast because, unlike other actresses they had auditioned, “when you put a gun in Q’s hand, it didn’t all fall apart”.

Trained in Hong Kong

That is partly due to years of being trained for all sorts of action roles in Hong Kong – starting out under the guidance of Jackie Chan’s trainers – and to her work ethic.

When she found out that the show had no money to train its cast for action scenes, the actress asked her boyfriend, an action director, and his team to help set up a training regime for her castmates.

“When I do action, I do action. I’m dedicated to that for my audience,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

It’s believable enough to have struck a chord with the discerning crowds at Comic-Con, where the pilot was previewed in July.

The Wall Street Journal identified Nikita as one of the new TV shows this year which put women front and centre – and usually kicking serious butt.

Besides Nikita, there will be Chase, about a female US marshal, Covert Affairs, featuring a female CIA trainee, and Undercovers, which revolves around a husband-and-wife spy team.

Singaporean freelance writer Liza Shah, 29, a fan of the late 90s’ American series, said she is looking forward to the new incarnation of Nikita.

“It’ll be interesting to see how Maggie Q gives the character strength, because I know she’s quite good at doing action roles,” said Ms Shah.

The show’s high profile could also have something to do with its steamy promotional pictures.

Its main poster, with the actress in a high-cut, leather leotard that shows off a tattoo on her thigh, was rejected by several shopping centres, including upscale LA hang-out The Grove. The image was replaced with one of her in a long, slinky red dress, toting a sniper rifle.

One photo in particular has gotten much attention – that of Maggie Q in a swimsuit she calls “a two-piece with a bit of string attached”.

“I requested a one-piece!” she protested in an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “I like to keep it classy, you know. I think it’s sexier.”


Not really, for an actress who has already posed nude – save for some strategically-placed lettuce leaves – for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Silverstein stressed to the LA Times that the show was going to be different and that viewers would enjoy it because “it’s Jason Bourne type of stuff”.

Maggie Q herself put it more simply: “Dudes are gonna love it.”

And isn’t that enough?

Nikita airs on SingTel mio TV Season Pass (Ch 503) from Sept 11.


This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
"Maggie Q’s Nikita will be the first truly Asian lead in a prime-time drama". Tia Carrere would actually hold that honor as she played the lead role in "Relic Hunter" playing Sydney Fox. Relic Hunter played on prime-time with 66 episodes and ran from 1999-2002. Tia Carrere is also from Hawaii and is of Chinese, Spanish and Filipino descent.
Posted by MaggieQFan on Thu, 16 Sep 2010 at 12:02 PM

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