Maggie Q Talks Kicking Butt, Breaking Fingers For Nikita
When it comes to The CW action series Nikita, star Margaret Quigley – better known to her fans as Maggie Q — is adamant about two things: The Season 2 finale is going to change Nikita’s mission in unimaginable ways, and Nikita’s ally Owen (played by Devon Sawa) must come back for the third season.
“There’s no way in Season 3 Nikita’s not going to seek Owen out to join her,” she told a group of reporters before the network announced the show’s renewal. “She’s going to have to. Some big changes are going to be made at the end of Season 2, so she’s going to need all the help she can get.”
Based on the 1990 Luc Besson film La Femme Nikita and the subsequent TV series of the same name, Nikita follows Quigley as a covert agent working to take down the secret government-funded organization that trained her. Looking back on the season, Quigley said she felt a family had really grown around her character, although she admitted in that in the world of Nikita, any happy moment is probably seconds away from becoming a tragedy.
“I think everything in Nikita is a precursor for bad things to come!” she said. “Nothing is ever going to stay the same, which is great.”
Quigley also told reporters that everything in the final episodes of the season is intricately tied into finale, which airs Friday, including the happy family scene in the episode “Dead Drop” in which the main characters reminisce about their group.
“In the scene she’s standing there watching them and it’s one of those fleeting moments of happiness she’s going to look back on and wish she had when she doesn’t,” Quigley said. “It’s so complicated what she’s done and how it’s all webbing together, getting more and more complicated in [Episode] 22, and then 23 is huge. I don’t know how they’re going to make it an hour — it needs to be 90 minutes!”
Going more in-depth about the finale, Quigley said last week’s episode marked a turning point for who Nikita is as a person.
“It’s definitely the beginning of the end for something Nikita is really sick of,” she said. “There’s a scene where she’s saying to the five of them she’s done, she doesn’t want to run anymore. It’s not that Nikita hasn’t meant this before, but she really is done. She’s not backing down this time. She’s pissed and she really, really doesn’t want to run. To be running for her life from [Division head] Percy and this threat forever, it’s not sustainable.”
Along those lines, Quigley talked a lot to series creator and producer Craig Silverstein about the themes and storylines for a third season.
“The big question mark is going to be, can that family exist in this very alternate and strange universe they’ve created and live in, this world that they’re fighting? With the overarching theme being Home in season two, you find homes in very unlikely places,” Quigley said. “For me personally, and this translates into the show and into her, your home is where your family is, and so that becomes very true of Nikita at the end of the season.”
“We are going to go into how Sonya feels about all this, which is very cool because she’s been a very side character, but important, and she’s had her doubts,” Quigley said. “There’s been a few run-ins already with Birkhoff and Nikita and her getting wind of things happening under their nose in Division that’s putting them all in danger. Nikita actually gets face time with her in the finale, which is really cool because I’ve never worked with her. After two years on the show I’m saying, ‘Hi, I’m Maggie, nice to meet you!’”
Quigley also addressed the sexual undertones of Nikita’s relationship with CIA Agent Ryan (Noah Bean), explaining that the tension is more complicated than mere physical attraction.
“I think he really respects her from day one, since they started their friendship. She risks so much for other people, he just looks at her like she’s not of this planet because people don’t do that. She’s so idealistic I think he finds her amazing, but also vey stupid!” Quigley laughed. “It’s easy to fall in love with somebody who is kind but careless, and that recklessness is what keeps you locked onto them — but I think going into season three, if we do go into season three, Nikita and Ryan will be getting a lot closer!”
Quigley also spoke of a mission shift, stating that Nikita will be “a different show” in the third season, focusing more on the individual characters.
“There will also be room for some more standalone episodes with different threats coming in and out, which I really like because that’s fun too,” Quigley said.
However, she revealed, not all of the cast will be returning. “Let’s put it this way: Not everyone’s going to make it out of Season 2,” she said. “We’re not going to start Season 3 with every character we started with.”
Quigley said this week’s finale isn’t a cliffhanger, but it does set the stage for next season.
“I always want to end it with a big Breaking Bad-style ending where you can’t believe what just happened. But we’re not on AMC!” Quigley laughed. As far as the season finale goes, “I have to say it’s a nice wrap up to Season 2, and some of the Warner Bros. executives did call me up and say they felt the journey coming full circle and you felt good at the end.”
She was also excited for the action sequences in the finale, and bounced in her seat as she spoke about the thrill of performing own stunts.
“This is why I took this fucking show!” Quigley said. “I took this show because I wanted to do quality feature action television — the real deal, not like stuff we saw 10 years ago where you cut to a close-up of an actor going, ‘Ah!’ and then to a wide of a stunt double in a wig.”
A protégée of Jackie Chan, who trained her when the actress began her career in Hong Kong, Quigley reiterated that she was drawn to by big-budget action feel of Nikita.
“I’m very adamant: I owe my audience,” she explained. “If they’re tuning in and this is one of the things they like about the show, they deserve to see me doing my job.”
Despite years of training and safety precautions, Quigley also admitted that the stunts do go wrong from time to time.
“People became very overly protective after I broke my fingers,” Quigley said, remembering the Season 1 action scene that damaged her hand. “I was climbing down these tunnels that genuinely were underground, and I was going down this ladder, one of those grates you can walk on with your body weight, that’s how strong they are. As I was climbing down the grate fell, hit my head first then it smashed my hand, then I fell down onto stunt men!
“The best part was I went to the emergency room and I was there for five hours and nobody saw me,” she recalled. “The medic in the van with me, I asked where we were going and if it was good and he said, ‘No!’ He goes, ‘I would never go here!’”
Naturally, there was only one way for the woman who plays the self-reliant Nikita to resolve the issue: by doing it herself.
“It was 6 a.m. and I said, ‘You know what? I’m done.’ So I grabbed tongue depressors and put them around my hand and I got tape and I wrapped my own hand and said, ‘The most important thing for me is to sleep and rest and get to a real hospital, because I was in the middle of nowhere,’” Quigley said. That’s precisely what she did, taking her self-set hand to a doctor the next day.
“After that the rule changed that no matter where we were [shooting] outside of Toronto we had to come back to the city for big injuries!” she laughed.
The season finale of Nikita airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.