According to Morena Baccarin, the actress who plays Anna, the evilly manipulative leader of a group of lizard-like aliens on the ABC show V, expect some almost Shakespearean-like drama in the weeks ahead — thanks, in part, to the introduction of the character of Anna’s mother Diana, played by Jane Badler, the actress who famously played a different character named Diana in the original 1980s incarnation of the show.
“She was so sweet,” Morena says of Badler, in an exclusive interview with TheTorchOnline.com. “I was opening my mouth to compliment her, and she said, ‘I love your show!’ These characters butt heads a lot, and I thought it was so great that even as a V, you get your butt kicked by your mother. No species escapes that! I thought that was awesome.”
Badler’s Diana, it seems, plays a pivotal role in upcoming episodes.
“She becomes very instrumental in the rebellion with Lisa,” Baccarin says. “I’ve imprisoned her for twenty years, which is why she’s still on the ship. Everyone thinks she’s dead, and she’s trying to get her queenship, her throne, back.”
Baccarin smiles. “Between her, Lisa, and myself, you’ve got three women fighting for the throne!”
Thirty-one-year-old Baccarin, born in Brazil, first became known to TV viewers as Inara Serra on Joss Whedon’s 2002 cult classic Firefly, famously canceled after only fourteen episodes (only eleven actually aired, though the characters did return in the feature film Serenity).
V’s ruthless Anna couldn’t be more of a polar opposite from the kind, serene character of Inara, but the fact that Baccarin seems to have been born to play both roles is a testament to her talent.
Does the viciousness of the character ever impact her behavior in real life — or affect the way people react to her?
She laughs. “Do I order people around at Starbucks?” she says. “I definitely — I think! — keep a healthy separation between work and life. It’s not difficult for me, because when I put on that make-up and the clothes, I see that character right away. And the words — the way Anna speaks is very different from myself.”
Apart from the appearance of Badler, the most interesting thing about the most recent episodes of the show may be the indication that even Anna, the supreme leader of a lizard race that keeps its emotions tightly controlled, is starting to lose control of those emotions.
“The wonderful thing about playing this part is the challenge of maintaining that regal personality and laying in that new emotion,” Baccarin says. “And I think it’s great, because it humanizes her in such a way that I think people will be able to relate to her, to sympathize with her, which I think is really scary, to be able to relate to such a nasty person.”
Which brings up an interesting question: just how much emotion does Anna feel? Does she feel any of the kind and gentle emotions she’s projecting to Earth, or is it entirely an act she’s putting on?
“I think it’s an act,” Baccarin says. “I think she knows exactly what to do or say, to manipulate, to be adored by her people. I mean, she has a love for her species, and as leader, it is her job to ensure its survival, and she has a deep love for her people, but when it comes to humans, she’ll go to great lengths to get what she wants.”
With the appearance of Badler on the show, Baccarin pondered the differences between the old and new versions of V.
“The perils are different,” she says. Our show “is more about terrorism-fear, that fear and paranoia of not knowing who your neighbor is, and I anchored [my performance] on that. I feel like [the show's take] is a little more subtle and a scarier way in, because it’s not on the surface. You don’t know if you’re safe, ever.”
In fact, she says, Badler’s reappearance is a pretty good example of the show’s theme. “In the original show, it was a little more apparent [who was bad],” she says. “But here, you don’t know who’s on whose side, and people switch a lot.”
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