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MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2007

PAINKILLER JANE'S KRISTANNA LOKEN

Kristanna Loken is probably best known as the Terminatrix from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, but that might be changing soon.

Loken continues her run of action roles as the title character in Painkiller Jane, the Sci Fi Channel that is based on the comic book created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada and is scheduled to premiere on Friday.

The Continuum was part of a conference call late last week with Loken, where she discussed the series, her acting preferences and future episodes.

Following is an edited transcription:

Question: Tell us about Painkiller Jane and who your character is in the show.

Loken: Painkiller Jane was loosely adapted from Jimmy Palmiotti's comic book of the same title. Ours is not set in New York, however, and it's modern day.

Jane Vasco was recruited to a secret government underground agency from formerly working at the DEA. And when she comes to the secret underground agency that hunt neurological abhorrence, which are people who can project things with their minds as brainwaves hallucinations, or feelings or emotions or dreams, a whole gamut things. And that's based on electrical frequencies and currents we all run on, so hypothetically it actually could happen.

Jane Vasco finds out that she has this unique to ability to heal after she comes to this secret agency. Basically, she will take on the pain and the physical trauma of the accident or injury she heals. And basically through the first season, we will have little breadcrumbs and tidbits as to why she heals. Jane learns as the audience finds out what's wrong with her, so she doesn't really know much herself.

Is she a Neuro? Is part of a Neuro? Is the hunted being the hunter or visa versa? We don't know. So it's a lot of a few steps forward and a few steps back.

They are standalone episodes, so you don't have to watch Episode 3 to know what's happening in Episode 13. The structure is a bit of a Neuro of the week. But there will be a through-line and overall story amongst the characters and as far as Jane's healing is concerned.

Question: Comic-book fans can be really particular about the actors who play comic-book roles. Do you have any apprehension about the feedback from the fans and have you gotten any so far?

Loken: Basically, that we've gotten so far has been positive. I think because Jimmy has signed off on this that kind of will put comic-book fans at ease. As a matter of fact, he's written the next episode and will be up here kind of baby-sitting the script while we shoot it. So as far as that goes, the fans will be pleased. It is an adaptation. It is not identical to the comic book.

And I think if you got into anything projecting someone's feeling or outcome as far as the fans go, you're going to be up for disappointment. I think my job is to just do the best I can and hope people will enjoy the character.

Question: Do you go out looking for these tough-gal roles or do they come looking for you?

Loken: You know, I think they come looking for me, actually. I didn't go out in mind that these would be the roles I was going to be playing. I think that, in like any walk of life, you find your niche and what you're good at. I think you find your strong points and you work upon those.

I think a lot had to do with my physicality. I'm nearly six feet and 150 pounds and strong, and I've always been outdoorsy and athletic. And I grew up on a farm, riding horses.

I think that the type of work lends itself well to the types of roles that I've been assigned to play.

Question: Do you want to find those roles? Do you want to balance it out? Or are those roles too good to turn down?

Loken: Well, a little bit of both. I think the great thing about Painkiller Jane is she has such a great gamut of emotions. She really goes though everything. She had a bit of hard childhood, a past. And the absolute physical pain and trauma that she goes through on a weekly basis really shows a whole other side of the character.

I do like doing action. I do like having a gun or fighting, but I'm not looking just for those roles.

With The L Word, that certainly was a different type or role. I play a single, bisexual mother, so there were no guns involved on that. I also produced my first film last year that premiered last and is now going to be in the Long Beach Film Festival called Lime Salted Love. That's totally different. There's no action in that. It's totally a character-driven piece. I'm also looking to produce another film this summer that I've actually worked with my dad. And that's based on the immigration problem we're having in the U.S.

I'm definitely varying it up. But I do like having a weapon, too.

Question: How did it turn out that you were involved in this? What turned you on to Painkiller Jane?

Loken: I did a mini-series called Dark Kingdom for Sci Fi last year that was received well and they kind of wanted to get in bed with me on another project. I had been working with some of the foreign producers for Dark Kingdon and Sci Fi on creating something completely different and then Painkiller Jane came about and they were like, "Oh, this is the one that you have to do."

I still wasn't entirely sold on doing 22 episodes, but I read the script and I really fell in love with the comic. I thought the character was very rich in the comic. I felt like it would give me a lot to play with and great kind of endless interesting opportunities for storylines. And I wanted to come on as a creative producer, as well, because I thought that if I'm going to have this show, I really want to make it something that's my own, that I have a lot of say in.

Question: Were you a fan of the sci-fi genre before you started doing a lot of it?

Loken: No, not really. What I find gratifying about doing sci-fi is that it's very freeing artistically. I've always had a wild imagination since I was a little girl and I think the realm of princesses and kings and faeries and all different kinds of wonderful characters really lends itself well to doing sci-fi. So maybe it does have that kind of draw for me.

Question: Have there been aches and pains in doing the role of Painkiller Jane?

Loken: Luckily, touch wood, no. No injuries. The occasional bruises and stiffness. But overall, I've been pretty OK.

Question: Was there a compelling moment in your life that made you become an actor? Or is it something you've always wanted to do?

Loken: I always have wanted to act since I was a little, tiny girl. I could say it's maybe been my calling. My dad has been an actor and is also a writer. And my mother was a model. And growing up, I felt well-versed in lots of different types of theater training, the little stage plays and voice lessons and horseback riding and dance classes, which was really grooming for pursuing the arts professionally. By the age of 13, that's when I started working professionally.

Question: What are your expectations for this show?

Loken: Zero. (laughs) I have zero expectations. I have learned not to project an outcome, really. All I can do on a day-to-day level is just do my best. Otherwise, if I try to think too big, I just get overwhelmed. And for my own sanity and health and well-being, I just have to try to do my best each day and hope that people enjoy the show.

Question: What is involved in you being a producer? Do they just run a few things by you or are you involved in every step of the way?

Loken: I've been involved pretty much every step of the way. For the first few months, I was the only creative producer that was on the set, with me being in Vancouver. Most everybody was in L.A.

It was a huge, huge workload as far casting and storylines and questions from the other actors and locations. Pretty much everything, except on a monetary level, I was questioned about.

Question: Do you think television has allowed strong lead females characters to become viable in the market?

Loken: I think that television has really had a bit of a revolution in, I don't know, I would say less than five years. People are watching more of it. The quality of shows are getting better. And therefore you have to produce smarter scripts and storylines.

With all of that, there has to be a need for a strong female character. And there haven't been many single lead female character shows. There's Buffy and I kind think of Alias -- and that's pretty much it.

But with cable getting so huge and people not going to the movies as much as they used to, the opportunity to really go for it more creatively and without the censorship that most TV shows have that's why I'm happy to be on cable because we have a lot more fun creatively and not be limited. You get shows like The Sopranos, which has thrown TV into a whole new realm onto itself.

Hopefully, we'll fill the void of a niche market that hasn't really been tapped into that much on television.

Question: What kind of avenues does cable provide that network doesn't really allow for.

Loken: The subject matter can be broader. The language can be a little more free. I think Sci Fi, too, with their television broadcasting, is on the up and up. I think they're also pushing the envelope to see how far they can go.

I like to work in a very raw manner with my art form, I guess you could say. I hope they let me do more and more as far as action goes, and sexuality and subject matter. I really hope that I can push the envelope with them.

I think with network television, you're dealing with a lot more restraints. There's more people getting involved at a higher level and more censorship from a lot of people that I don't feel as much as there is on cable.

Question: Did you read many of the comics to prepare for the role?

Loken: I honestly was reading the comic and that made me fall in love with the Jane Vasco character. Like I said, I think Jimmy created a very rich character, especially for a comic book.

But I really wanted to make her mine own, too, because it is an adaptation. Some little things that I thought were neat and I definitely enjoyed and remembered and took with me from the comic. But a lot of it I created on my own.

Question: Were there any stunts that might have been a little bit intimidating?

Loken: You know what? I don't have a lot of fears. I just jumped into things. Getting squibbed a lot is something that I've actually gotten used to it. Reaching through things with sparks and explosions, but it's all fun. I've done a lot of it now. It's just another day at the office.

Question: Can you talk about working with Jimmy Palmiotti?

Loken: Jimmy has a great spirit and great energy. I think he has lots of fun in life. Not only is he a great, responsive, easy-to-work-with guy, he's a joy to hang out with and to be around.

Question: Can you offer any teasers about upcoming episodes and what kind of Neuros we might be seeing?

Loken: We've got a lot of fun stuff planned. We have one episode where the Neuro is somehow wired through the house. So we do a haunted house episode, and all these strange things being to happen and the team goes undercover. And there's this great old German house that we found, I don't even what it's doing here in Canada. And all the characters start having nightmares of things from their past, flashback and memories. And we find that the nightmares are coming through the circuitry of the house, because the Neuros are projecting on an electro kind of frequency.

We have a neat model episode where the top model, it turns out she's in her 50s but it looks like she's in her 20s. She is a bit of a youth Neuro, so she needs to hit these young women in order to retain her youth.




E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com



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