We talk to the all new and all hot Bionic Woman. Fred Topel, CraveOnline / September 30, 2007
We don't really need an explanation of why women kick ass. We just sort of accept that Jennifer Garner or Sarah Michelle Gellar or whomever have the power to clobber big, buff guys. But if you're hung up on the physicality, here's one explanation for you. A woman is given cyborg arms and legs that give her super strength. That's how she kicks ass. It's a new Bionic Woman and Michelle Ryan makes her U.S. debut in the title role. The British TV star won the role of Jamie Sommers, the latest government experiment in human enhancement.
Crave Online: Is this show going to be a big pain in the butt, hanging on wires all day? Michelle Ryan: I'm going to sound really strange but I enjoy all of it. I feel like you suffer for your art and the hanging up there just adds to the character in my opinion, for me personally.
Crave Online: The first episode was so serious. What room is there for humor on the show? Michelle Ryan: I think there is a little bit. From what I heard, there will be some lighter moments. I think Jamie's going to have some friends. I think that there will need to be a few moments of lightness, but I think ultimately, it's quite dark.
Crave Online: What was it like fighting Starbuck on the rooftop? Michelle Ryan: I would fight with Katie and I would have these bruises and there was this one section where she would be saying, “Hit me, hit”, and I was like, “But I don’t want to hurt you.” And she was like, “No just hit me. So it was interesting how she was coaxing it out of me.” I had done all my training, but I sort of still didn’t want to hurt her. When you fight on set you try to not hurt anybody. But she sort of said to me, “No, just do it.” It was interesting how she was sort of bringing it out in my sort of the way Sarah is bringing out the strength in Jamie.
Crave Online: Who do you think won that fight? Michelle Ryan: There is an interesting twist that I won’t give away. You really feel like “Jamie, wow, she kicked ass and she gave it her all…” but there is an interesting twist that I was told about from the writers, but I think Jamie gave as good as she got.
Crave Online: Are you ready to become an American celebrity? Michelle Ryan: I feel like I have had seven years experience in England for five years from the age of 16 and I was immediately thrown in the spotlight. I know what to expect. I know it is a bigger scale over here. So I feel like if you work hard and you keep your private life private, you will be okay.
Crave Online: Will there be more opportunities for romance on the show? Michelle Ryan: I think there is going to be. From what I can gather, it is just focusing on the work and Jamie has to come to terms with the fact that she is bionic. And I am still working on the show, so there is not really time for romance. I think we have lots of different ideas for love triangles and there is obviously the relationship with Will. She is a woman so all of those feelings and hormones and emotions will come up. I think that initially it will be her dealing with becoming Bionic. But I think hat absolutely down the line, she has got to have some romance.
Crave Online: Do you have any feelings one way or the other about Isaiah Washington being cast? Michelle Ryan: I just look forward to seeing what he brings as an actor. Same as with all the actors. My parents were so thrilled Miguel [Ferrer] was in this. I am sort of excited just to sort of be leading it. I am 23 and I am an unknown Brit and I get to play this iconic American character makes me feel so privileged.
Crave Online: How familiar are you with the original series? Michelle Ryan: I saw a bunch of clips from the 70s Show. I remember when I was younger seeing them and Lindsay Wagner seemed like a very pretty lady but that was all I kind of remembered.
Crave Online: Was there anything you could take from the original Bionic Woman series. Michelle Ryan: Well, apart from the two clips I remember seeing as a child, I haven’t really seen it. But from what I can gather, it was a strong female character and the fact that she has this vulnerability and strength. I think that’s very much the theme of the original. I guess that’s sort of what I can take from it, really.
Crave Online: How much time do you spend in the gym? Michelle Ryan: Probably about 3 ½ hours a day. I am getting abs. My muscles are getting bigger. I am being much more conscious of what I am eating.
Crave Online: Did you spend that much time working out before this role? Michelle Ryan: No. Certainly if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t. I used to dance, swim and do gymnastics. I really have a reason to be healthy now.
Crave Online: How has your diet changed? Michelle Ryan: Just eating more Sushi and fish and fruit and vegetables. And cutting out chocolate. I have such a sweet tooth. If you put one in front of me, I will eat them all.
Crave Online: What sort of training was there specifically for all the bionic abilities? Michelle Ryan: I am a real tomboy so I love the fact that I get to jump off thigns and throw myself around and be one of the guys. For me to be doing all that I'm doing, Krav Maga training, I'm trekking up mountains, I'm working with a personal trainer, dialect coach. I'm sort of being put through it. I kind of sent an e-mail to David Eick saying, "If I can get to the top of this mountain, I'm ready to shoot the series."
Crave Online: How are you a tomboy? Michelle Ryan: My mom would put me in a pretty, frilly dress to go to a party and then I will be kicking around playing football with the boys. I have always loved to be running around and dancing. If I am not working I won’t wear makeup and I will wear flats.
Crave Online: Are there other female action heroes you look up to? Michelle Ryan: As a young actress, I always am drawn to sort of strong female actresses. When you see Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and you see her kicking ass, you're like, "Yeah, I want to be like that. I want to be strong and I want to be confident and I want to be empowered." I think that's a really great message that Bionic Woman will hopefully bring out there.
Crave Online: What has been your journey to get here? Michelle Ryan: Well, I got started in a soap when I was 16 so I spent five years there which I was sort of very well known for doing. Then I left two years ago and sort of worked non-stop in lots of different roles. I sort of sought out lots of different characters just because I like to keep the variety and have a challenge. Jekyll I think was my first sort of showing to the sci-fi fans and then it just happened that Bionic Woman came up, which again, has a huge sci-fi element. So I think Jekyll was my introduction to the sci-fi fans really. It does feel like it’s a fresh start over here. I’m sort of so well-known in England for playing Zoe, who was actually quite a soft, even slightly weak character, so I love the fact that if the show works, I’ll be sort of known as a very strong feisty character, and I think it’s a nice progression for me. I mean, what better way to be launched to an American audience than by playing Bionic Woman? I do feel so lucky to have got this job.
Crave Online: How did you get so good at accents? Michelle Ryan: I think accent-wise, the American accent is definitely something I had to work on. The Cockney accent, just having been in and around London, I did very easily. And now I feel like the further we’ve gotten into the series, the easier and easier it becomes.
Crave Online: How have you been making Vancouver a home? Michelle Ryan: Well, entertainment-wise, I’m working pretty much all hours, so I’ve been out a couple of times. I went up to Grouse Grind, but that wasn’t really relaxing. That was climbing up a mountain. But I just sort of go around to the restaurants and we go out with the ADs or some of the cast and just hang out. I love Vancouver. I think it’s such a lovely place and I just hang out in my apartment if I’m not working, I guess.
Crave Online: How do you get into character on the set? Michelle Ryan: Do I get down and do some press ups? No. When I put on the costume and I'm on set and I'm running around, I do feel stronger and I feel good about myself. It's just a dream role for me because I'm such a tomboy. I just feel like I'm really testing myself every day. Every day I have a different sort of shoot to do or different people to meet. I feel like I'm constantly learning and growing and I think that's very much what Jamie is going to be doing as we go along, finding out about herself. I'm re-locating myself for this job. I'm moving to Vancouver and living on my own for the first time and changing light bulbs, doing things for myself that I have not done before. So I feel like I'm as much on a journey of self-discovery as Jamie is. CraveOnline.com 20
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