Jane Badler's return to 'V' franchise: 'I felt like a lover had re-emerged'
Badler is best known for the role of Diana in the original "V" series, but she's been largely out of the American spotlight since she moved to Australia in 1990 to live a more low-key family life with her husband and two sons.
When "V" was revived, Badler immediately felt a pull. "I don't know how the rest of the original cast felt," she says, "but I felt like a lover had re-emerged that I never quite finished with. I just thought 'Oh, my God. I have got to get in touch with these people, and get back on the show.' I mean, it was just weird. I had such a strong reaction."
Still, returning to the franchise that turned her into a cult icon isn't the easiest thing she's ever done. "I think the trepidation was in leaving behind a life that I had created for 20 years, and going back into ['V'] again," she says. "It's just a really surreal thing. I was a young woman, and now I'm not such a young woman. I still feel young. But leaving my family behind, I think absolutely there was trepidation."
In the rebooted series, Badler's character, the mother of Morena Baccarin's Anna, is named Diana, but it's more of an homage to Badler's original character than a reprisal of the role. In fact, "V" producer Steve Pearlman considered other actresses for the role, and Badler did have to audition.
"We wanted to give the role to the best actor, first and foremost, because it's a character that we're hopefully going to see quite a bit of in the season, in the series, and so to do something just for publicity's sake... you want the best actor in every role," Pearlman says. "We just wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be a backlash, in the sense of 'It's too kitschy; they have to go there to get attention for the show?' If she's the best actress for the role, there's definite value from a publicity and promotional standpoint, so great. Let's go for it. She's been spectacular. It was a score for us."
That's not to say that new Diana is a far cry from old Diana. "There's, of course, elements. It's me, so there will be elements of me in there," Badler says. "I think there's something that resonates so deeply, about the fact that I've come back. The fact that I was once [in Anna's position], many years ago in the original, is kind of great."
Diana is the former queen, having been exiled and held in captivity by Anna for fifteen years as Anna ruled as queen. Diana, however, has patiently awaited her moment to strike back. "Because we're not humans, there's a great control, and even though it's been fifteen years in captivity, which for me, it will seem like a lifetime; for her, it's... the patience is beyond. How long I can wait for my moment to strike!"
In the original series, Diana famously ate a rat. Badler laughs, recalling the fact that they had to build a duplicate of her head to shoot the scene. "It's kind of obvious now, isn't it? But at the time, it was cutting edge. Nothing frightened people as much as that scene. It's crazy, isn't it? That was so involved, building a neck on me, and a big head, and now, you know, if we have special effects, all you have to do is just kind of open your mouth a certain way, and then they put everything in later. So, it's a very different sort of thing now."
While the special effects may not stand up to today's standard, the gross-out factor remains:
So we had to ask - will Badler up the icky ante when "V's" second season premieres on Tues. Jan 4 at 9 p.m. EST?
"I think so. In this episode [Episode 4], tonight, I'm doing something that's pretty gross," she teases. "But at this point, no. I have not eaten a rat. I don't know what they have in store."