I had a chance to catch up with Michelle Ryan, the new star of Bionic Woman while she was shooting in Vancouver.
First, let me brief you on the new Bionic Woman:
The new Bionic Woman is about Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan), a struggling bartender and surrogate mother to her teenage sister who thinks life is the pits. She then gets in a car accident and is able to survive by using top-secret technology at a high price. The way she is able to re-pay the debt of her new existence is she must learn how to use her super human abilities for good. The show will be about Jaime’s journey of self-discovery and inner strength that she will have to find being the Bionic Woman.
Michelle Ryan has had much success in the U.K. She has been seen in EastEnders, I Want Candy, Mansfield Park, in BBC’s Jekyll, among many other U.K productions.
Others in the cast are Isaiah Washington from Grey’s Anatomy, Miguel Ferrer from Crossing Jordan, Chris Bowers from Rescue Me, Will Yun Lee from Witchblade, and Molly Price from Third Watch.
Nads: Hi Michelle! I hear you’re quite the adrenaline junkie, are you getting your adrenaline fix with all of your action sequences in the show?
Michelle Ryan: I’m a real adrenaline junkie, so I absolutely love doing it and as much as possible I’ll do my own stunts. So there’s lots of punches. There’s a whole big sequence with Antonio Pope (Isaiah Washington) and Jamie where he tries to bring out the animal instinct in Jaime and that’s a really dynamic, really sort of hardcore fight.
I’ve had so many incredible action sequences. We’re using Krav Maga style of fighting and the stunt coordinators, Dean and Will have been coming up with some really dynamic moves for Jaime. So it’s lots of sort of flying spinning kicks. They had me up in a harness yesterday and then I’m on another harness today doing these sort of crazy stunts.
Nads: Did being an adrenaline junkie attract you to the role?
Michelle Ryan: It absolutely drew me to the role. When I read the script I just felt I connected with Jaime on every level; the fact that she has this strength and feistiness and she’s smart but she also has a vulnerable side.
Nads: Being from the U.K, did ever watch Bionic Woman growing up, or know anything about it?
Michelle Ryan: I remember seeing a couple of clips as a child and thinking that Lindsey Wagner seemed like a very nice, very pretty lady. But those are the only memories I have.
Nads: Have you met Lindsey Wagner or heard from her?
Michelle Ryan: I haven’t heard from Lindsey Wagner. Everyone is sort of, have you met her, and I’m like, I’d like to. She seems like a very nice lady. I did share a lift with Jennifer Garner which I thought was an interesting omen. I didn’t say anything though.
Nads: So are you trying to mimic Lindsey Wagner’s character, or are you trying to make the role your own?
Michelle Ryan: Well, I think first of all, I would say that Lindsey Wagner became an icon for doing it and she was incredible and I’m not trying to be her. I’m just doing my own interpretation.
I love the fact that we’re bringing back this strong, young female character and I think it gives a great message, purely because, as well, I feel like with the character, you’ve got Jaime making scrambled eggs for her sister and she’s breaking the eggs and you know you’ve got her on these missions and really scared before she has to use her bionic abilities.
Nads: Moving out from the U.K., do you find the transition of your life and the character you’re playing parallel?
Michelle Ryan: Yeah, I feel definitely a connection. It’s sort of like I feel like I’m on this journey of self-discovery. I moved out of home and I’m away – you know, my parents are actually here this week, but I’ve had two and a half months on my own and I do feel like I’m learning all the time as Jaime is.
I feel like it’s sort of helpful being away from home. There are no distractions and I can just be fully focused on the work and I think I feel like I’m tat the same sort of turning point that Jaime is.
Nads: So has it been hard doing an “American” accent?
Michelle Ryan: I think accent-wise, the American accent is definitely something I had to work on. The further we’ve gotten into the series, the easier and easier it becomes.
Nads: Does it feel like a fresh start?
Michelle Ryan: It does feel like a fresh start. I’m so well-known in England for playing Zoe, who was actually quite a soft, even, slightly weak character, so I love the fact that if the show works, I’ll be sort of known as a very strong feisty character, and I think it’s a nice progression for me.
Nads: How exciting to be introduced to America as the Bionic Woman!
Michelle Ryan: I mean what better way to be launched to an American audience than by playing, you know, Bionic Woman. I do feel so lucky to have got this job.
So there is was folks, the new Bionic Woman. She seemed very sweet, and very British! I’m really looking forward to the show’s start next week, since I only caught the original series in re-runs. The one question I had for David Eick, the Executive Producer of the show was about Isaiah Washington and what kind of publicity he thought it would bring the show having him on after all of the T.R. Knight drama with Grey’s Anatomy. He responded, “I didn’t realize it was bad publicity, but it’s certainly good for the show. I mean he’s a tremendous actor and just in watching the dailies and a couple of the early cuts, he’s really sensational, just kind of elevates everything around him and brings a level of, you know, gravitas to the show.”
Hey David, bad publicity is good publicity, right???
The show premiers, Wednesday, September 26th, 9/8c. For those of you who can’t wait, you can always check out the first 16 minutes of the show on AOL TV, and check out the website, where they have a Bionic Assessment Test to see if you’re an appropriate candidate for being Bionic. The Bionic Assessment Test (BAT)