Interview by Craig Byrne – September 2, 2010
The CW’s “re-imagined” Nikita premieres in less than a week, Thursday, September 9 at 9PM following the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries.
Playing leading man “Michael” opposite Maggie Q’s Nikita character is an actor who really doesn’t need any introductions – Shane West, who you might recognize from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Once and Again, A Walk To Remember, several seasons of ER, and many, many other credits. Leading into the show’s launch, Mr. West took some time to speak with KSiteTV about his character.
Please do not reproduce this interview on other websites; instead just link to this page. Thanks! Questions below are bold; answers are not.
KSITETV: What can you tell us about your character of Michael and his interaction with Nikita?
SHANE WEST: One of the things that intrigued me to playing Michael is that he’s so tortured, and has so many layers, and from an acting perspective, it’s just an absolute blast to get a character as meaty and juicy as that. Also, without giving away too much, Michael is very torn between his own heart and soul and what he feels is right and wrong, and his loyalty to Division. Essentially, Division saved his life, and it seemed like it was headlined by Percy. So his loyalties are strong there, despite as corrupt as they can be, and despite the corrupt things that they do. And because of that, he’s always going to be very unique, and there’s always so many places they can go.
I think with his time in Division training a lot of these recruits, he was able to meet Nikita, and I think something sparked between them – something that I don’t think Michael had had for a very long time, and something that I think that Nikita had never had. I think that that strong bond is keeping them together, as well.
How is that dynamic different with the new recruit, Alex?
I think it’s surprisingly similar, and that’s what they’re trying to build as well, in that Alex is coming off as a very good student; a potential rival to Nikita in talent, albeit she’s very young at this point. I think Michael sees some of Nikita in Alex, and I think it becomes very apparent that he’s becoming a little protective of her. I’m not going to say in some sort of sense where he’s attracted to her like he was with Nikita, but in a sense that he is protective of his recruits, especially the ones that seem like they’re not going to be expendable.
Had you been familiar with any of the previous interpretations of the Nikita story?
I have. I was a fan of the original Luc Besson film, and I own it. I’ve always been a fan of that. I never saw the American version. I did see a few episodes of the show with Peta Wilson [La Femme Nikita], mainly because we ended up doing a film together after she was finished with the series, called the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and then ironically, now I’m suddenly on the Nikita show. Really strange, and kinda cool.
So I am definitely familiar, but because this isn’t a remake, and this is more of a reboot and a reimagining, telling you years into the future what is potentially going on with these characters with the addition of new characters, it’s up to us to make our decisions on how we want to do it, and how we want to build the character. So I’ve taken a little bit from the past, but I’ve mainly added my own.
Do you consider Michael to be a good guy or a bad guy?
Definitely a good guy. He’s a conflicted good guy. He hasn’t done great things his entire life, but in his heart, in his soul, he is a good guy. But he’s messsed up, and it’s going to take time for him to heal, and he certainly isn’t doing it by working for Division.
What would you like to explore with Michael as the series goes on?
I’m very excited to get into his background. I’m very excited to see if he had a family, if he had a wife and kids, and is that a part of what’s screwing him up? If he has any brothers and sisters, or anything like that, that could make him seem a little bit more human at times. Because you’ll see with flashback scenes that we’ve done with Nikita, it seems like he felt human with her, but robotic with everyone else. I’d like to explore more of that human side. Where he lives, what his apartment or house or whatever might look like… that tells you a lot about a character. So there’s a whole smorgasbord of things I’d like to know.
The promos for Nikita are showing off a lot of action. Do you specifically have any action sequences coming up in the first 6 episodes that you’ve shot so far?
Right off the bat. I do. They avoided it for the pilot, apparently, but I have two pretty quick, crazy action sequences. I’ll just say in between Episode 1 and 6, and pretty much right off the bat.
What can you tell us about the other characters that Michael interacts with at Division?
With Michael, business is business, and I think the only one who’s been able to break through with that that’s on the recruit level is Alex, and maybe Thom, simply because Thom’s proven to be a good soldier, but that is all where the emotion’s pulled away. Or, they’re supposed to be. Michael screws up sometimes because he’s human, but most of the other trainers, the soldiers who work around the recruits, are all emotionless, because that is an area where these people can be removed if they’re not successful. Michael’s relationship with Percy is very strange, in the sense that they test each other all the time. There’s got to be some sense of caring for each other, but they also don’t really trust each other and are trying to figure out each other’s motives. I think Michael is kind of developing with Birkoff a relationship that almost seems like I’d be the big brother and he’d be the annoying younger brother, and it’s really hard to tell with Amanda so far. I can tell that she is in a big position of power there, but I don’t know where Michael and Amanda rank yet in levels of Division. But I do know they’re pretty much at least on par.
In your opinion, why should people tune in to the show next Thursday and every week beyond that?
You’re not going to find a hotter, sexier new show, with the action and the acting chops put together that this show has. And when you couple it with The CW’s way of advertising it, it’s a win-win situation. I think we’ve got something for everybody. We’ve got strong female characters that women can look up to, but that are sexy as hell that guys could be attracted to. There’s plenty of action for guys and for girls, and it’s not set for a certain age group. Anyone can watch the show. So we’re hoping everybody will, and I don’t think they will be disappointed at all.
Nikita premieres Thursday, September 9 on The CW. Thanks again to Shane West and The CW for making this interview happen. To read more about Nikita, visit our Nikita category here on KSiteTV and be sure to join us on the Nikita thread on the KryptonSite Forums!