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Maggie Q Talks Kicking Butt, Breaking Fingers For Nikita

Maggie Q, from this week's Season 2 finale of "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.”

An outsider to that Nikita home/family is Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood), the Division IT expert who has shown onscreen conflict about helping Percy (Xander Berkeley) locate Nikita’s hideout.

“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.

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“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.


  • sandwich eater

    I never watched this show, but I saw an interview with her on a late night talk show (I forgot which one) when she was promoting this show. The other guest was Dana Carvey, and he asked her about which martial arts she had trained in.  I believe he brought up aikido and jiujitsu.  She seemed confused like she didn’t know what he was talking about. That’s when I realized that Dana Carvey probably knew more about real martial arts then her, despite the fact that she was a stunt woman. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed.

  • coalminds

    This show is pandering garbage, and if anybody who watches this thinks either of the main women makes a convincing “butt kicker” they haven’t ever actually been in a fight. It should be on the Lifetime channel. I mean if it’s an action show and the acting, etc. are going to suck, can’t you at LEAST make the action good? Is that a lot to ask?

  • SDS

    Maggie has never claimed to be a martial arts expert.  She actually goes out of her way to tell people she isn’t.  

    Nikita is a very good show.  Too good for the CW.  Maggie is simply phenomenal with all aspects of the Nikita character – drama, romance, stunts and action.  The critics absolutely love everything about this CW series.  Thanks for a great article!

  • SDS

    The action is the best on TV right now.  And considering the shoe string budget CW lays on Nikita it is quite unbelievable that the action and production is as good as it is.  

  • Julie

    Great article. I am excited about the season finale and nervous about who not make it to season 3. I admire Maggie’s dedication to the show and making sure the quality is top-notch. Correction: Maggie had the injury in season 2. 

  • Veronica Perrotta

    Best show on the CW hands down with a phenomenal cast, top notch acting, brilliant writing, stellar storylines and unparalleled action.  Considering the tight budget they are on, it’s amazing the show’s quality is as high as it is and all the actors do their own stunts.  There is a reason it’s the most critically acclaimed show on the network.  Maggie has NEVER claimed to be a martial arts expert.  As a matter of fact, time and time again she has emphasized that she is NOT one so the assumption that she carries herself that way is categorically false.  Well deserved 3rd season and hopefully more to come.

  • coalminds

    The reason it’s the most critically acclaimed show on the CW is that the CW’s shows are awful. If you think that’s top notch acting, Breaking Bad would probably make your head explode.

  • coalminds

    Nice avatar. And yes, the action is great, the way people always hold guns to people within 3-4 feet so the person can easily disarm them. The way central characters routinely look like they should lose fights (Maggie O especially), but don’t through sheer willpower or some other nonsense. The gun fights where bad guys (especially division agents) take brilliant formations on approach, my favorite being the “let’s all squeeze through the door at once like Stormtroopers” gambit.

  • Ndavika

    If you’re so upset by how ‘unreal’ the action is, then why are you watching the show? Nikita is a wonderful show full of not just believable action (this is tv!) but actual heart and strong character relationships as well. This show needs a stronger viewership going into Season 3, but obviously there were enough of us (& the network execs) that believe this show is not ‘pandering garbage’ or else it wouldn’t have gotten a well deserved full season order.

  • Anne

    You obviously have some list of broadcast tv action shows that you are comparing Nikita to in your mind. What are they? Although they were good shows, the fight sequences in LFN, Dollhouse, Alias and Buffy were pretty terrible in comparison to Nikita. What is your reference point? And I noticed you brought Breaking Bad into this discussion? Its not the same genre or type of show. What’s with the apples to oranges comparison? Are you the same guy that always brings up Breaking Bad in the comments of Nikita articles, lol?

  • sim

    Nikita is the greatest tv show ever!!!!!!!!!!! and Maggie Q is surely the most fantastically amazing actress in the world *hats off*

  • kalorama

    She’s not a martial artist any more than Tom Cruise is a super spy or Robert Downey Jr. is genius billionaire inventor. They’re actors.

  • vernitagreen

    maggie q has never stated she was the queen of marital arts. she has always said that she was trained in a variety of different martial art techniques but never really mastered any one discipline. maggie q’s action scenes in nikkita are flawless when compared to many action heroines on tv and i applaud maggie q for going all the way.

  • SDS

    Nikita being on CW is a noose for the show.  But the writers, cast and crew do a great job despite all that.

  • D.Smithee

    I love this woman. 

  • Alex Forrest

    No action movie or TV show has “realistic” fights. The choreography includes moves that are flashy and impractical because it’s meant to look cool, not be true to life.
    This is one of the best shows on TV, as many critics would tell you. It has not only action but great twist-filled storylines, suspense, drama, romance, even some humor… the whole package. Oh, and the acting is excellent, to the point where some critics said Maggie Q deserves an Emmy nod for her performance in one of the more recent episodes (2×19) – have you ever actually watched?

  • Giovanna

    something got you on this site, guess to pander your own garbage, right? but think you feel guilty that you like the show enough to add a comment. nikita is a great show; it’s TV….. a show you obviously like. 

  • cjorg2

    Robert Downey Jr isn`t a genius billionaire inventor? WTF? Iron Man wasn`t real? That has totally fucked up my day.

  • Azrael

    Giovanna – you are one sexy, smart woman. I like it.