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Maggie Q is Nikita
SheKnows: Talk a bit about the stunts. They're pretty intense. I know you've been doing this for a long time, but give us a peek into what the training for the show is like.
Maggie Q: It's sort of like one of those things...I read things about Robert Downey Jr., when he did Iron Man, like, "Oh, I had to do this," and Ryan Reynolds like, "Oh, I had to do that," and stuff like that. I feel like I'm that person all the time. I don't feel like I can ever take a break from that. The films I'm involved in are...you need a level of physicality for those and then the series is ongoing. I don't even get a day break between each episode [laughs]. So I never have the chance to eat pizza for a week and chill out. That never happens for me, ever. But I do a lot of yoga, copious amounts of yoga, because I need to stay strong, but I also need to stay really flexible so I don't get injured. It really helps me with my choreography. This very Zen, sort of practice helped me kick people's ass on screen [laughs].
SheKnows: I have to ask you about your work with animals. I'm a 21-year vegetarian and I have five animals in my house, so I had to bring this up.
Maggie Q: Oh my gosh! [Laughs] That's so cool! It started for me in 1998. You know, I claimed to be an animal lover...you'll understand this. I'm so glad you said you're a vegetarian, because a lot of people who aren't don't entirely get it. And then when I say it, they think I'm trying to make them feel guilty, which I'm not.
SheKnows: I totally understand!
Maggie Q: So I claimed to be an animal lover and I claimed to love everything about them and to want the best for them and to support them, but I ate steak and I had fur-lined jackets. So what is this? And mind you, I was a kid. Kids nowadays are a lot more conscious about these things than we were. I was eighteen and I didn't really get it. So I was on my way to a concert, a Bryan Ferry concert, how funny is that? And there was a woman sitting outside of the auditorium and she was tabling. She was at a table with brochures and no one was talking to her and I felt bad. So I walked over and asked what she was doing there, because I was waiting for a friend. She said, "I work with a group named PETA." I said, "Oh, I know that group!" She said, "We've just opened an office in Asia and we're trying to make people aware of the animal situation there." I said, "My name is Maggie and I'm an actress," and she said, "Oh, I know who you are." I asked if she'd send me some research. PETA sent me a pile of research...photos, videos, world-wide statistics, environmental statistics, I mean, everything you could think of related to the animal world. I was on a flight to Bangkok, and I'd just finished the last page of the material, and that literally was it. I never touched meat again. I was done. Once you know the issues, it's impossible. Forget loving animals or not, and I do, passionately. But besides their own welfare, the environmental aspects of what meat is doing to our planet, it's disgusting. And the fact that we know other things and don't know that, really hurts me. So I've made it my life's mission to make this information available to people and promote what is good for the animals is good for all of us.
Maggie's Veggie tale
SheKnows: A similar thing happened with my husband. One brochure and he never ate meat again.
Maggie Q: Wait, your husband is amazing! God bless him! We love a man who is not afraid of that. Because a lot of men are like...well, we've been inundated for many, many years with the "real men eat beef" bullsh*t. All that stuff that makes men not feel like men if they don't indulge in an animal meal. What does one have to do with the other in any shape or form? It's bizarre. And also, we have alternatives these days. You look at our cancer rates and our obesity rates and cholesterol levels and diabetes...it's not a secret. It's not a mystery. People who don't eat that way just don't have certain diseases. I went to a doctor and got checked and he said that my cholesterol levels were incredibly low and that the only cholesterol I had was the good cholesterol. He said, "We should clone you. What do you do?" I said, "I don't eat animals." He said, "That will do it." Now, mind you, this was a doctor who was just doing checkups for actors. So if he knows that, why don't we tell everyone?
SheKnows: Tell me one of your favorite veggie recipes.
Maggie Q: Well, I'm the salad whisperer. That's what my friends call me. [Laughs] I love to do salads as meals. I'll do three kinds of kale and throw quinoa in it and nuts and fruit and I'll caramelize onions and throw them on top and make my own dressing. Tahini, so it's really meaty. People eat my salads and they're like, "Okay, if I could eat like this, I could do it." It's really about people giving us those options that are healthy and available. It's funny, I was actually on a plane with Shane. The stewardess asked, "Chicken or beef?" I said, "I'd rather die." [Laughs] Shane was laughing and said, "She'll have tea." I'm actually making Shane healthier. He actually grew up a vegetarian. His mother was a vegetarian. He's like, "I get it, Maggie. But I'm not eating the tofu sandwiches anymore." His mother made him sprout sandwiches and scarred him for life. [Laughs] He was in high school and fourteen and people made fun of him. He's slowly coming back to the light side. [Laughs] I'll make him! I'm trying to do that with everyone a little bit.
SheKnows: I know I read that on one set, you kept it free of animal products and fur. Is that something that you've done on the Nikita set?
Maggie Q: Yeah. Oh yeah. No exotic skins, etc. And for my movie, Priest, that's coming out in May...on a movie you can do this. I'm not Julia Roberts, but I do what I can. So for Priest, I was the female lead, so I went to the costume designer and said I didn't want leather. She custom made my shoes, my outfits, everything from the ground up. She used neoprene and stamped it to look like leather. It was really cool! There are no exotic skins in Nikita, though there is leather here and there, but they tone it down as much as possible. I have a zillion wardrobe changes on Nikita so it would be impossible for me never to wear leather, but on my own, I don't buy it.
Maggie Q scoops Priest
SheKnows: I was on the set of Priest, and it looks so cool. Can you give the readers a tease about what we're going to see?
Maggie Q: It's another sort of damaged woman. What's that about? [Laughs] As you know, it takes place in this sort of post-apocalyptic, Western sort of existence where man and vampire live separately. And at one point the vampire threat was very big and people had to retreat to walled cities. Basically Paul Bettany's character...a family member of his gets kidnapped and has to investigate it as a former priest. He finds that the threat is back. They had fought as members of the church and the clergy who protected the people before, and they thought they'd gotten rid of it many years ago. So they kind of all band together to fight this threat. There is an undertone between Paul Bettany's character and mine. He plays Priest. I play Priestess.
Maggie Q (con't): They spent many years together as comrades, fighting the war and there is something there between them that has never happened. That is unfinished. So you've got a very kind of damaged woman who has always loved this man, but she can't tell him. She's taken a vow of celibacy and so has he, within this institution. So it really, really can never be. [Laughs] So it's really about their commitment to what they do and the people they protect. Scott Stewart (director) likes to say, the whole movie is about sacrifice, which is true. That the things and the people we sacrifice for, for our morals and ethics...that causes a lot of pain for these characters.