If you think the new "Nikita" is just another Hollywood remake, you might be interested to know how much effort has gone into proving you wrong. The forthcoming CW series is set six years after Nikita (Maggie Q) became a secret agent, and now she's gone rogue and wants to bring Division down. They're still taking sexy convicts and training them to go on deadly missions, but there are six years worth of complex relationships Nikita is working through. If you've never seen the Luc Besson La Femme Nikita or the Peta Wilson starring series, the CW's version will catch you up.
Shane West plays Michael, the boss who originally recruited Nikita, and who is still training new agents. Is he the bad guy, or are there more surprises coming? West kept up the spy tactics by doing a phone interview, and laying out some kick-ass action scenes and possible plots. It's confidential enough to get you excited for the show's premiere on September 9, but nothing he'll get a burn notice for.
SJ: It must be exciting gearing up for next week.
SW: Yeah, I think it's just kind of hitting us because we've been doing it for a little bit. I think it's just finally hitting us, like, "Oh my God, it's next week."
SJ: Are you jealous that all the billboards are Maggie Q's sexy butt tattoo?
SW: Uh, no, especially the way you worded it. [Laughs] No, because I get to see her sexy butt tattoo all the time. Let's be honest, hip bone tattoo, but no, not at all. I mean, it's "Nikita" for God's sake and we're very proud of everything that's happening for the show already. It's kind of good. I did tell her though, "You better be happy you're in Toronto. With all this billboard extravaganza in L.A. and New York and I don't know where else, because you're not going to be able to walk down the street. At least in Toronto you're okay."
SJ: Since it starts six years later, how much of the original "Nikita" story is going to be in the regular series?
SW: There has to be some. I feel that there are similar characters and some of the original characters from the film and the series, but it's a few years into the future where she's gone rogue and she's going against Division now, which has obviously never happened in the other renditions. I think what they do is they've kept some of the core together from the original writings, but there are new characters and additions. Lyndsy Fonseca, who plays Alex who's kind of being groomed to be the next Nikita at the same time of having Nikita on the show, there's a lot more happening in this reboot of it than what even happened in the original.
SJ: Does Michael get out in the field at some point?
SW: Almost immediately. Episode two. The pilot was kind of hilarious because there was a lot of confusion, as there is usually when you're shooting just one episode. Everyone's trying to do the best job and pray to God that it actually gets picked up. I remember being called to work at five o'clock in the morning a couple times for guns training. I went over to fire off guns and I went over the guys and said, "You realize I don't even fire a gun in the pilot, right?" They're like, "Oh. No." I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to go back to sleep."
SJ: What sort of crazy action will we see you do?
SW: As much as I can let out before them airing. You've got to understand Michael trained Nikita so he has to be pretty good at whatever he does. I have a scene where I'm fighting three guys at once that hopefully went well. I've got a great fighting scene with Nikita when we actually do come into contact again, that apparently came off well. We'll see. I think we're going to tease the audience a lot for as long as we can.
SJ: After "Once and Again" and "ER," were you looking to do a TV series again?
SW: No. I've never put it past me to. I keep an eye out but I wasn't planning on necessarily jumping onto a show. I'd been a couple years off of "ER" and I had done six independent films in two years and was trying to just get work in the sense of trying to play characters that were making me older, now that I'm 32 and kind of building that resume for an adult rather than a young adult which I'd already done a long time ago. I think "Nikita" made itself stand out to me for several reasons. One being a fan of the original and also being a fan of McG and Danny Cannon. Once Maggie Q got cast, that was a huge selling point and the fact that they were going to give me the opportunity to play Michael, and the youngest version of Michael in all the renditions.
SJ: Have you done a series at each stage in your life: a young teen, a doctor starting out and now this?
SW: "Once and Again" was my acting school and you can't have a better one than with Ed Zwick and Marshal Herskovitz. We had a great three years on that and even "ER" was crazy because they gave me that opportunity to play a young doctor, a first year resident and I was like 27. It was exciting but I was kind of in shock. I was a first year resident. I had as much tenure as Maura Tierney who had been on the show for six years, but it gave me the opportunity to be the young adult. Hopefully this will transition even further. Now I'm kind of the second in command and the boss.