Nikita – Lyndsy Fonseca interview (exclusive)
Interview by Rob Carnevale
LYNDSY Fonseca talks about some of the challenges of playing Alex in Nikita (released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, September 19) and working with Maggie Q. She also talks about some of the projects she has taken on around filming the show, including a cancer project that proved highly emotional.
Q. What was the initial appeal of playing Alex in Nikita?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I really felt the character was really well written. She wasn’t just a girl who had one thing on her mind… the writers really had created a lot of history already for her. I really trusted the creators’ vision and the writers. So, that appealed to me in the sense that it seemed like a challenge.
Q. Were you surprised by how physical things would become?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I was [laughs]! No one asked me if I could do stunts beforehand. I just kind of got thrown into it! I mean, I knew Maggie would be doing a lot of action but I didn’t realise how much I’d get to do. But they started by giving me little bits and quickly realised it was fun for me as well, which was nice.
Q. And have you developed a taste for it now?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I have… I love it so much.
Q. Do you pick up many scrapes and bruises?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It definitely happens. I’ve got a scar from a shell casing, which happened from firing an automatic. I knelt down on it and it burned through my pants and scarred my knee. I’ve also got a scar on my wrist from the fight we did in the Straight-Jacket episode. It’s funny, though, because Maggie and I are always comparing bruises after each episode. She gets more beat up than I do, though.
Q. The two of you share a great bond, so how do you work on that?
Lyndsy Fonseca: We just kind of take it up every episode. The bond between them is quite fantastic to see on TV. It’s two women who love and care for each other so much, yet that relationship is in jeopardy by end of the season. But I think the foundation of their love for each other has been so well portrayed that the betrayal is all the more shocking.
Q. It must be a huge relief to have been picked up for a second season?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It’s a great relief. I have so much faith in the writers and I really do believe that we’ve now found our footing. We’ve seen what works and have got the foundation down now, so I think we’re in for some really great episodes in season two.
Q. What’s it like going through that process as an actress? It’s almost portrayed like a will it/won’t it be back kind of game in the media, yet for you it affects your life?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It’s never fun but I’ve been doing it for over 10 years and it’s the name of the game really. As an actress, you never know what next year’s going to bring, whether you’re doing films or seasons for TV. It’s just the way it is. You can let it drive you crazy, or you cannot. I choose not to let it bother me too much and just always hope for the best.
Q. Looking back on the first season, Resistance was a key episode for you. How was that one to film?
Lyndsy Fonseca: Resistance was my first favourite episode. It’s the one where I got to go outside of Division for the first time. I mean, I was working on the same set for six episodes at the start of the show and it was kind of getting old. The writers felt they had explored all they could for me in that recruitment world, so they knew it was time. And getting out of there and having a relationship with Michael on the outside world was great, especially as I was also going through that torture. It gave me a lot more to do.
Q. Was that episode as intense to film as it is to watch – I mean, you’re being tortured, you’re constantly in fear for your life, not knowing what’s going to happen next. How easy is that to shake off when you go home at night?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It’s pretty easy to shake off for me. I mean, you’re right, there’s electrocution and torture in that episode and it’s not that I take it home with me… and more that it’s extremely draining. I’m like a zombie afterwards. I just go home and veg out on the couch and watch some TV.
Q. What do you like to watch to de-stress?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I love comedies – Modern Family, Glee and The Office… Community. I’m a big TV watcher, even though I don’t have a TV [laughs]! Somehow I watch things… normally online! I love Grey’s Anatomy too.
Q. Coming back to Nikita, what’s it like working with Melinda Clarke and Xander Berkley? I take it they’re nothing like their characters?
Lyndsy Fonseca: They are nothing like their characters [laughs]. Melinda is nothing like Amanda… so much so that it’s almost a joke. She’s so grounded, so easygoing, so sweet, so nice… she’s a mum. In fact, she’s our step mom on set! She’s an incredible human being and not at all scary or bitchy or any of those things you see in Amanda. Xander is not as uptight as Percy, either. He’s a theatre actor, so he’s very theatrical and very out there, which is fun to play with during scenes. He’s definitely not as uptight or stiff assed as Percy.
Q. How much input do you have into your character? Can you change things in the script if you don’t feel that it’s right for Alex?
Lyndsy Fonseca: If we do change anything, we always talk about it beforehand. It’s not really fair to throw things at the director on the day, unless it’s a small note such as re-phrasing something. But if it’s large, we always talk to the director. But we seldom do that out of respect for the writers because, for the most part, they do such a great job.
Q. Has it started to feel like a family now? And do you all hang out off-set?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It does. We kind of do a bit of both. Sometimes, if I’ve had a really intense week, I prefer to take a bath and zone out and exit the world of Nikita. But for the most part, if one of us is going out to dinner we’ll ask if others want to join us. We shoot in Toronto, so we’re all away from our families, but we have each other’s backs.
Q. How important is it to find other work in between seasons on Nikita? I mean, you’ve already got some great films to your name (Kick-Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Ward), so is that something you want to keep doing?
Lyndsy Fonseca: It’s been hard this hiatus. I’m doing a TV movie but there’s not enough time to do features in between. But Project 5 is very exciting. It’s a Lifetime movie that’s basically a two-hour film that’s basically made up of five shorts and each one is directed by someone different – Alicia Keys or Jennifer Aniston, for example. The project is about cancer and each short is about a woman who is diagnosed with it. My character is a stripper who gets breast cancer and has to have a double mastectomy. So, it’s not so much about the cancer itself, but about relationship and how those can be affected by cancer. It focuses on my character and her husband and what it does to her.
Q. That must be tremendously emotional for you. Did you speak to people suffering with cancer as part of your research?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I did. I did a lot of research on young people in particular as my story is angled at that. Other stories relate to women who are diagnosed at other stages in their lives. Patricia Clarkson plays one woman, for instance. But cancer is something that is different for every person. But at any age, it can be devastating and confusing. Young people, especially, have the idea that they’re too young and it can’t happen to them – but it can. And I think women will be able to relate to my character because she makes her living off her body and when that’s taken away she is confronted by a series of questions, such as ‘who is she’ and ‘what does this mean for her relationship’? It’s been kind of a passion project for Jennifer Aniston.
Q. Will you be in Kick-Ass 2?
Lyndsy Fonseca: Well, we don’t have a script yet or a start date. I hope it will happen. We just don’t know.
Q. How was your Kick-Ass experience? What was it like working with Matthew Vaughn?
Lyndsy Fonseca: I feel like it was a lifetime ago… I was so young – I mean, I’m still young now but it was my first big feature film and I was definitely quite overwhelmed. But Matthew taught me a lot. He taught me how to stand up for myself and the sense of responsibility that comes with being part of a project that’s as large as that. But I had a great time with the boys – Clark Duke, Aaron Johnson and Chris[topher] Mintz-Plasse.
Q. And how was working with a veteran such as John Carpenter on The Ward?
Lyndsy Fonseca: John’s fantastic. He’s very, very focused and he knows exactly what he wants. He’s never wish washy and there’s no confusion on set. He likes to do two takes and then move on. It’s very quick and it reminded me a lot of doing a TV movie or a soap… it’s a very procedural way of doing things. He just has a vision and sets about realising it. But he’s been doing it for so long that nobody ever questions it.
Q. Looking ahead to the next season of Nikita, where would you like to see Alex go?
Lyndsy Fonseca: Personally, I’m really excited for Alex to be with Amanda a lot more in a different dynamic. They were such enemies during the first season, but I think they will come to an understanding in the second one and I’m really looking forward to seeing how that is developed.
Nikita Season One is out on Blu-ray and DVD on September 19, courtesy of Warner Home Video.