Morena Baccarin on Choking Scott Wolf, Eating Rats and Working with Joss Whedon
Brazilian-born actress Morena Baccarin is so strikingly beautiful that ABC designed an entire race around her. As Anna, the manipulative leader of the extra-terrestrial "Visitors" on the network's remake of V, Baccarin has played a pivotal role in the series. Not only was she relied on heavily for the show's promotional campaign last year (there's a good chance people thought V would be a one-woman show), but she plays a politician so fearless and so evil that she would make real-life legislators cry -- or at least fear for the human race.
With two weeks until V's season finale, Baccarin phoned Movieline to discuss the art of green screen, the perks of playing an alien and why she thinks Joss Whedon is ready to direct a mega-budget action flick.
So how is the cast and crew feeling these days about a potential second season?
Well, we are really excited. We are keeping optimistic. We are just having such a good time shooting the show. I think if we keep doing as well as we are doing now, we'll be coming back.
You have a lot of stage experience and now you're doing a lot of green-screen work. Are those two formats comparable at all? Do you enjoy one more?
It's really fun at the beginning of the day and it's imaginative -- it's funny that you just brought up theater because I just made that comparison the other day to a friend. It's a lot like doing theater. When you are rehearsing the first three weeks of a play, you don't have a set or anything. You just are working on your imagination and what you think everything is going to look like and how it is going to fall together. At the end of 14 hours on green screen though, it is really challenging to remember how you have been visualizing every single scene. We'll shoot maybe eight scenes in a given day on green screen and it's just hard to keep remembering where you are.
I would imagine the blocking is challenging.
It's hard because you have the dotted lines for where your walls and your doorways are and you just have to remember that all that stuff is still there.
One scene that was not shot in green screen a few episodes back was the dream sequence where your character strangles Scott Wolf's character. You actually had to strangle him -- he turned red, his eyes and veins popped out. How does that work as an actor?
Well, he scared me a couple of times! He was telling me to go for it, and I was like, "Yeah, whatever." But he kept saying, "I really want you to go for it." Finally, I said, "Dude, I am going to really strangle you." I was still holding back though because I didn't want to be responsible for the world losing Scott Wolf. So that was mostly him just being a really great actor. I am sure he felt a little pain though.
I remember Quentin Tarantino saying that when he filmed Inglourious Basterds, Diane Kruger only trusted him to actually strangle her, so I guess that says a lot about the amount of trust between the two of you.
Definitely. You have to have that otherwise you really can't do these scenes that we do. We usually have a stunt coordinator on set or somebody who is responsible for making all that stuff look real too. That day though, I think [the coordinator] was probably standing by and we were OK on our own. We were really trying to make it look as real as possible without hurting each other.
Your character hasn't hurt any rats yet either --
I haven't, and I am so thankful that I haven't yet. I am still not in the clear yet though, as long as we're on the air. I am not looking forward to it though.
Do the directors and producers taunt you about the inevitable rat-eating scene?
From time to time, the producers will say, "It's coming." But it hasn't happened yet.
Was there one stunt or scene that was your favorite to shoot this season?
Lots of cool stuff! I would go home and friends would say, "How was set this week?" And I would say that I got to strangle and kiss Scott Wolf in the same scene. I laid a lot of eggs in a big bowl. I got to eat off the head of my mate. So there has been some really great stuff, and I have such a great character to play. She becomes especially evil in this installation of episodes, so I think people are going to be quite shocked as we near the end of the season to see what she's capable of.
What would you like to see Anna do if V is picked up for another season?
I think it would be great to see her relate in a human way to some of the other characters in the show or really just explore human emotion maybe and have relationships with people where she is not in control.
Do you think she is capable of that right now, or will there have to be an inciting incident that makes her capable of feeling those kinds of emotions?
I think there will have to be an incident. She will definitely have to be provoked a certain way.
Let's talk about Joss Whedon. Marvel chose him to write and direct the mega-budget comic book mash-up Avengers, which has caused a few people to raise their eyebrows. Having worked with him on Firefly and his first and only feature Serenity, why do you think Joss is a good choice for what could potentially be the "biggest blockbuster of all time?"
I am sure he will be awesome at it. We had a ton of that stuff on Serenity and he has this great quality about him. Joss really knows what he wants and he has a really clear image of what he thinks something should look and what the film should be. I am sure he will be really well prepared, and I am sure they are in really, really good hands.
Have you talked to Joss recently? Do you think there could be an Avengers role for you?
I don't know. I haven't talked to him in a little bit. We email each other back and forth. I would do anything that he did though -- really truly anything. He's so talented.