“There’s no room for improvisation,” says Morena Baccarin of her smallscreen alter ego Anna, queen bee leader of the alien nation on the new ABC sci-fi drama “V” that begins Nov. 3. “It can be really challenging in the sense that while I can’t be robotic, I have to really be very precise with movement and language and know exactly what I want.”
Anna and her fellow “visitors” — whose scaly reptilian features are masked beneath pulchritudinous human skin — manipulate humankind and plot to take over the world in the revamped show based on the popular 1980s miniseries.
“I didn’t have much training in playing an alien,” laughs the Brazilian-born, New York-raised beauty whose mother, Vera Setta, is a well-known TV and stage thesp. “I obviously didn’t play her like a lizard, but it was definitely fun to think about what she’s like underneath that facade.”
When prepping for the role, Baccarin, who honed her acting chops at Juilliard, looked to duplicitous politicians for creative inspiration.
“She needs people to trust her,” she explains. “So she goes about it in a very nice way. Like a lot of politicians, she tells us exactly what we want to hear.”
Baccarin also felt the importance of bringing nuance to a protagonist that could easily have been pegged as a one-dimensional evildoer.
“What really drives Anna is saving her people and really providing for them,” says Baccarin, who divides her time between New York and L.A. “The visitors have come, and they know exactly how to get humans interested. A lot of people see Anna as evil, of course, but I can’t because I have to play her. There’s a mercenary aspect to her absolutely. She’ll do what it takes.”