Nikita comes to The CW this week.
The action-packed drama premieres on Thursday night, following The Vampire Diaries, and stars Shane West in the role of Michael, the man tasked with tracking down the show's title character. In an exclusive interview, the actor spoke to TV Fanatic about the role and the series in general...
The pilot episode hints at a past between Michael and Nikita. Will we learn more about this?
Eventually. What we’ll also do is we’ll have flashbacks. We’re on episode six and we’ve shot some flashback stuff already; some with Michael and Nikita. You can see how close they were, nothing that crosses beyond tension between them, or sexual tension or chemistry. Maybe there will be another flashback that does. As far as this year, I’m not sure, but I know it is part of the heart and sole of the show.
Michael is extremely conflicted. Do you think he views himself as a good person?
I don’t know about that one [laughs]. I view him, and the audience should, as a good person that is conflicted. But I don’t know if he necessarily feels that he’s a good person right now. He’s very tortured and he’s gone through a lot... he is a very confused, tortured soul. His loyalty is tied to Division and to Percy because, without giving away too much, they’ve basically saved his life and helped him start over. So he has that loyalty there. He has his feelings that are still confusing him with Nikita now that she’s coming back he’s torn between doing his job and helping her out. So I think Michael himself doesn’t think he’s a very good guy, but I think other people might beg to differ.
I think what he does to justify and make it feel right to him, is listening to Percy since he has to, but doing certain things on his own cowboy style. He has a sense of power, he’s basically second in command. He does train these recruits because Percy trusts him and he’s done a good job in the past. I think what he does to make himself feel better is he looks for the good recruits, the recruits that are improving, such as Alex and Tom in the situation. Then he tends to look after them more because its his way of giving back, it’s almost his way of apologizing for maybe some of the bad things he has to do because he’s under the employment of Division.
Michael is very calm and nonchalant about what he’s doing to these recruits.
That was the key, especially in the scene with Alex in the pilot, telling her what’s going on with her life now, and her life is over, and this is what’s going to happen. You have to understand, that’s probably the thousandth person he’s told that to. So, you want to, as an actor, explore the place and do all sorts of stuff. But you have ot remind yourself, if it’s in Division, it’s nothing new. If it’s outside of Division on mission, he’s still cool and calm and collected.
When Nikita gets involved, that shows where his calmness goes awry. Certain things you’ll find out very quickly go on and he’s getting very short with Percy and Percy’s getting very short with him in the first six episodes, so there’s been a lot of anger there. I’ve decided, hopefully it will look good, but to do certain episodes a little more animated for Michael and certain episodes draw back a little bit more. The reason why I’ve done that is because I don’t want him to be too robotic and rigid, I want to be able to show that confusion and torture on different levels.
Will we learn more about Michael's past?
Absolutely. I think it’s coming up pretty soon on the shooting schedule. It’s a few episodes away... I think Michael will have won over fans by episode six. You’ll see he’s not quite as harsh as he is in the first episode, so far. I think if he hasn’t won over enough by episode six, people will truly be on his side and understand. He’s trying to stay level, and that’s the art of being Michael.
Why were you attracted to this role?
Everything I just said. There’s more reasons, but I think being a fan of the original film, and seeing that Danny Cannon was apart of the production side. When I first started reading it, there wasn’t a Nikita cast yet, then before I went in to read, Nikita was cast, and Maggie Q was given it and I loved it and thought that was a perfect idea. Everything we’ve talked about in the sense, given such a multi-layered portrait character that there’s nothing better for an actor. There’s nothing juicier. It’s a great base of operations to start with. We’re all figuring out our characters now, episode six in season one. I’ve only seen parts of episode two yet. I haven’t even seen three, four or five. No notes yet, so I’m assuming that means everything’s a-okay [laughs].
How is it working with Maggie Q? Was it easy to develop chemistry with her?
It was easy. Not sure why, but it was. She’s an amazing human being, and just a person period. She has a huge heart, and she’s also very sarcastic and likes to make fun of me, as I do her. It seems to work it. We had an instant bond, which I think maybe wasn’t necessary but is very important. I think the bond that Maggie and Shane have is kind of crossed over to the Nikita/Michael thing. I think that’s very key, and it’ll be very helpful for the series.