Surviving a Femme Fatality
Marvin Kitman, Newsday (15 January 2001)
Of course, it was predicted by Nostradamus in his prophecies for the New Millenium. Or maybe it was Jeanne Dixon. Still, it was enough to make you believe in Santa Claus or the [tooth] fairy.
Usually when something is canceled, it's canceled. A TV series is not like a musical act going offstage with a lot of applause; they come back for an encore. It just doesn't often happen in TV.
This cable adaptation of the 1990 hit French movie Nikita stars Peta Wilson and had an 88-episode run on USA starting in 1997. It had gotten thunderous applause, which fell on deaf corporate ears. The femme fatale of Sunday night TV had developed an enormous loyal following, despite a unique scheduling policy, described by Joan Hancock, noted cable subscriber, as the "three-reruns-for-every-new episode gambit"....
What the gang of two at USA Networks -- Barry Diller and his programming honcho, Stephen Chao -- had performed was the classic network stupid-pet trick of getting everybody hooked on the show, and then prematurely canceling it.
Nikita was ingloriously shot down in May, a case of character assassination that to this day baffles couch cultural-criminalistics specialists.
Apparently, there was an insoluble problem between the show's studio, Warner Bros., and USA. Each pointed the finger at the other as the foul perpetrator of the crime.
Statements were released by Chao for USA and Peter Roth for Warner in what seemed like a secret code that made it sound as if they were talking to uneducated mental patients. Somehow, Warner and USA, as the noted LFNologist Didrik Thede of Baltimore observed of the whodunit, "miraculously had turned a win-win deal into a lose-lose."
The co-conspirators must have read all the reports in the papers of what they had done and undone it. Somehow it looked different in print. They didn't like the bad reviews.
And now they are giving all the credit for the change of mind to the 25,000 enraged "LFN" fans who got in touch with them by e-mail, snail mail, fax and phone; 300 sunglasses (a cool symbol of "LFN") were sent in. Also received in the mail at corporate headquarters were 25 TV sets, one VC and numerous remote controls. "I won't be needing this anymore since you've canceled Nikita," explained e-groupie M.B. Cunnyngham of Edmond, Okla.
This is the part of the story I find especially hard to believe. Fans always scream, stamp their feet, gnash their teeth, rend garments asunder and otherwise complain about canceled shows. Network executives normally laugh all that off as the work of foolish fans, hyperactives who need to get a life.
Usually there is some other subtext, as they say in politics.
I always thought the basic problem was the money. USA didn't want to pay for the show.
Even I could see this was not a cheap show to produce, despite its being shot in Toronto...to keep costs down. It had a big cast, many different sets, a lot of action. It didn't look like Captain Video.
Toward the end of last season, I also noticed that Nikita's wardrobe took off enormously. The producers seemed to spare no expense in making Peta Wilson look fabulous. Gone were those rags she wore the first season. Nikita was the best-dressed secret agent ever seen.
The popular theory about the real reason the show has come back from the coffin -- and I don't know if this is the correct answer, but it is the consensus and is fair to say -- is that USA had very little else that was working. The Rock and Chyna actually had more to do with bringing Nikita back than the 25,000 fans threatening to slash their wrists and mess up the carpets in Chao's office. Somehow, The War Next Door and Manhattan, AZ did not replace all of USA's WWF programming.
Chao could be the Garth Ancier of cable TV, while we're handing out plaudits. He's not the miracle worker he once seemed at Fox.
One other thing baffles me about the second coming of Nikita. I really can't fathom where they can now take the show. It was effectively ended in the so-called last episode in May.
If you recall, it ended with the cockamamie plot that the brains behind the whole supersecret anti-terrorist organization was Nikita herself, which made absolutely no sense.
It violated the basic premise. There was this young street junkie who gets set up for a crime she didn't commit, is found guilty and, even worse, apparently executed. But she wasn't executed. It only looked that way. The deal was: You work for us and we won't do anything to you, because everybody thinks you're dead.
How this person somehow wheedled her way into a top executive's chair is, on the face of it, preposterous, hard to believe possible even at the lowest amateur level of the CIA.
She must be very good at office politics, having gotten a lot of promotions (during commercial breaks), networking, undercutting, backstabbing, whatever. In the final episode she got rid of everybody, even firing her lover Michael (Roy Dupuis).
Of course, a lot of the show is hard to swallow. It is fantasy poli-sci. But this is really pushing it.
Maybe she can always rescind the pink slips, call them all back to duty, even the dead. And there's always the old shower scene from Dallas. Nikita in the shower would be an added treat.
It's exciting that Nikita is coming back, illogic and all. What isn't exciting is that it's only for eight episodes. Admittedly, that's better than no new episodes. It's sort of like having somebody about to be executed and granting him or her a reprieve -- and then the governor's saying you have only eight hours left to live. The future is not bright.
It's going to start in March, the same cycle of heartbreak, hope and yet another deluge of shades, TV sets and VCs. This constitutes double jeopardy for Nikita fans, cruel and unusual punishment banned by the Constitution.
This isn't good. At least if the fate of Nikita was open-ended, as usual, there could be the suspense element at the end. Even in the promos ("the last eight episodes"), they are predicting the bitter end. Why, it is as if Nikita's new haircut will have no impact. It's the Samson & Felicity story all over again.
No, this has not been handled well all the way through.
Fans Win Back La Femme Nikita -- For Now
Virginia Rohan, The (Bergen County, NJ) Record (27 January 2001)
La Femme Nikita was supposed to be TV history now.
Last May, everyone, including Peta Wilson, who plays the title character, assumed the drama was ending its four-year run.
Soon after the "finale" aired, however, fans in more than 40 countries, led by an online group known as First Team, launched a campaign. They flooded USA Network with more than 25,000 emails and letters. They even sent gifts -- including cash (donated to charity), a TV, VCRs, cookies, and more than 100 sunglasses, symbolizing the leading character's signature look.
The network got the message.
USA Network renegotiated the show's return, and on Jan. 7, La Femme Nikita came back for another eight --absolutely final -- episodes (10 p.m. Sundays).
"I had nothing to do with it," Wilson says of the online campaign. "I'd wrapped the show, moved out of Toronto, and back to Australia, and I was getting ready to get the wind in my sails for the next chapter of my life, when I got a phone call, out of the blue. They said, 'The fans are not letting it go. They really want it to come back. Warner Bros. [the show's producer] and USA, they're going to do this. Do you want to do this? It's up to you.'
"I got off the phone, and had a chat with my mom and grandmum, who said, 'This would be like a thank-you for the fans, really.' I wasn't really prepared to do a whole season, but eight episodes is enough to tie the loose ends and give the fans what they want."
Based on the movie of the same name, La Femme Nikita is a one-hour drama about a woman unjustly condemned to death. Nikita was given a second chance to live -- on the condition that she become an elite operative for a secret and ruthless government organization.
Nikita was so strong and cool she made Buffy the Vampire Slayer look like a wuss.
Asked what Wilson liked about playing the character, she says, in her husky Australia-drenched voice, "Oh, my God, that's tough. Towards the end, I really had character fatigue -- something you get playing 100 hours of a character.
"But I loved her heart. She had so much heart and truth and voice and power, not in a negative sense, but an inner sense of self.
"I liked that she maintained her integrity throughout. And I really loved working with the people, with the crew. They were like a big family. We had a lot of fun. It [the drama] was dark, but it was fun -- the way we dressed, the arc of it all."
One wonders if by the end of these last eight episodes, there will be closure.
"I hope so, but who knows with that fan base?" Wilson says. "They weren't happy before, and I thought it was a terrific way to end."
As to whether the fans will be able to pressure the producers into doing more, Wilson doubts it. "I believe it's done," she says. "I'm doing a pilot for NBC. I think Nikita has had its moment."
During this recent day's telephone chat, Wilson said she was, in fact, about to start prep work for that NBC pilot, which she'll shoot in March. She describes the show as a dramedy that's "sort of like Erin Brockovich meets The Practice'."
Her new character is a criminologist-sociologist-psychologist who's called in to work on very tough cases.
"She's strong, but she's different from Nikita. She's very real. She knows where she's at," says Wilson, who waxes poetic about her new persona. "If she was a man, she'd be Bogart. If she was a singer, she'd be Sinatra. If she was a monument, she'd be in the bay facing Manhattan. Now, I've got to pull that off."
A native of Australia who spent her early years traveling with her family as an "army brat," Wilson says her future plans also include doing a play in New York.
And this weekend, she can also be seen in the conclusion of Showtime's A Girl Thing. The miniseries, which kicked off last weekend, tells four stories, each involving women who are seeing the same psychiatrist, played by Stockard Channing.
In Part 4, which airs at 8 tonight, Camryn Manheim plays a disturbed new patient who threatens the shrink -- as well as a fellow patient, played by Wilson.
"I've got a cameo, right at the end," Wilson says, adding, "Camryn's amazing. She's really made it work. I'm like her character's pin cushion."
It's a far cry from her strong and beloved Nikita.
''La Femme Nikita'' makes a welcome return on USA The Peta Wilson action series is a sexy, addictive twist on the spy genre
Justine Elias, Entertainment Weekly Online (January 2001)
Every tale of espionage -- from James Bond to John le Carré -- manages to come up with some new, delightfully euphemistic way of saying ''kill.'' On the USA network's ''La Femme Nikita,'' that verb is ''to cancel.'' And cancellation is nearly what happened to ''Nikita'' last spring -- until legions of fans protested, inundating network with sunglasses (the heroine's signature accessory) and email pleas. So the show's producers recalled cast and crew to shoot eight more episodes (beginning Jan. 7 at 10 p.m.) -- a mini fifth season meant to provide, as one executive put it, ''closure'' for fans and big ratings for the basic cable outlet.
I'm one of those fans, and I hope you'll join me in welcoming back the sexiest, most addictive show on TV. The appeal of ''Nikita'' isn't hard to explain: The series debuted amid the post ''Xena: Warrior Princess'' slew of girl power action shows such as the WB's ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' (itself, like ''Nikita,'' a superior spinoff of a flawed movie). The title character, played by the athletic, smoky voiced Peta Wilson, is a strong, wily, complex heroine who showed that even gun toting secret agents struggle with relationship and career issues.
It's interesting to note that while the end of the Cold War put a damper on spy stories (like the Bond movies), ''Nikita,'' with its feminine point of view, has thrived and even managed to revamp the genre. No, this isn't TV's first stylish cloak and dagger series: ''Secret Agent'' and ''The Prisoner,'' which both starred Patrick McGoohan, got there in the '60s. But things have changed, and thankfully, the role of women on these shows has changed too (if Wilson had been acting back then, she'd have been consigned to the roles of treacherous whore or ornamental victim).
In the current political climate -- in which rival ideologies have been replaced by rival corporate strategies -- Nikita's dilemma, her individual struggle to make a difference within an impersonal system, is easier for both men AND women to identify with. Sure, Nikita's a fantasy figure (those clothes! those shoes!) but she's one who's got a lot in common -- at least in her attitude toward her job -- with modern day wage slaves laboring in bland cubicle farms. (Where, I suspect, a lot of those email pleas to save ''Nikita'' came from.)
Nikita's transformation from junkie waif into ace of spies began (as it did in the original movie) when she was jailed and forcibly recruited by a secret antiterrorist group called Section One. Trained as an operative and an assassin -- a job she hates, and one she knows she is temperamentally ill suited for -- she must excel or die. To put it plainly, she's suffering from a monster case of Impostor Syndrome. Emotionally battered by her spymaster/ lover, Michael (the brooding Roy Dupuis), Nikita can't even tell if what she's feeling for him is love or hate. To her bosses' consternation, though, her moral compass -- which ought to make her a liability in the field -- somehow makes her an even better agent, albeit one who's often able to subtly subvert the goals of Section One. While her superiors see the world coldly, Nikita has soulful intelligence that allows her to see both the big picture (as Section wants) as well as the human factors that make it up. On her various missions, she's less of a Superwoman than she is a great improviser.
''Nikita'''s also thrived, I think, due to its virtually intact lineup of supporting characters, whose claustrophobically interlinked relationships, sometimes make ''Nikita'' play like a perverse family sitcom. There's Walter (Don Francks) and Birkoff (Matthew Ferguson), Section's unsung technical wizards, who bicker like a pair of teenage brothers. Madeline (Alberta Watson), the quietly intimidating deputy of Section One, was Nikita's only female role model, but one with whom she was forever in conflict. (Madeline made a defiant exit in what was to have been ''Nikita'''s final episode, but on a show like this, that doesn't mean she won't be back.) The treacherous paterfamilias, Operations (Eugene Robert Glazer), is a man too dangerous to live -- and too valuable to kill. Chief in Nikita's affections, though, is the enigmatic Michael, whose expertise as an agent has come at a terrible spiritual price. Nikita, having turned the tables on Section last season, was able to abet his escape from spy servitude -- but to make him go, she told him that she never loved him. Michael, no stranger to this kind of manipulation, responded with a shocking, silent gesture: taking a knife and slowly slicing into his face, and allowing a bloody tear to roll down his cheek.
That kind of fetishistic but weirdly affecting signoff is going to be hard to top, but I fully expect ''Nikita'' to succeed. The new season begins with the heroine -- once again unwillingly -- being kicked upstairs to management, with life and death power over her onetime peers. Edward Woodward of the late, lamented ''Equalizer'' -- another show about an altruistic spy -- is set to join the cast. My one complaint: only eight episodes! I know, I know, ''Nikita'''s cast would probably like to get on with their careers. But the show's fans, I'm afraid, are a bit like Section One: We just can't let go.
Infogrames Teams Up with Warner Bros. Consumer Products To Unleash The World's Sexiest Spy
(5 February 2001)
La Femme Nikita™ Breaks Into The Interactive Entertainment World in Fall 2001
Worldwide interactive entertainment publisher Infogrames (Nasdaq: IFGM) announced today that it will release La Femme Nikita™, the world’s most famous female secret agent, on next generation video game console systems and PC CD-ROM in Fall 2001. In an agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Infogrames Entertainment, majority owner of Infogrames, Inc., garnered the rights to develop the popular license for these game platforms.
The La Femme Nikita™ game will remain true to the popular television series. In the scenario familiar to fans worldwide, Nikita is falsely accused of a hideous crime and sentenced to life in prison. Taken from prison to a place called “Section One” the most covert anti-terrorist group on the planet Nikita is trained as a spy and assassin by Michael, a technical expert, who serves as her mentor and teacher.
“This agreement is another wonderful step in maintaining what has been a winning partnership between Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Infogrames,” said Michael Harkavy, Vice President, Publishing, Kids’ WB! Music and Interactive Entertainment for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “From Looney Tunes to Wacky Races, Infogrames continues to successfully create engaging video games based on our exciting entertainment properties.”
La Femme Nikita™ combines fast-paced action, unique cooperative gameplay and a thrilling plot-driven story. Choosing to play as either Michael or Nikita, players must track a sinister terrorist group across the globe in six non-linear missions. In order to succeed, the player will not only have to show their infiltration skills, but also exploit their character’s abilities to react efficiently and intelligently in a variety of situations. In a world where teamwork and self-control are lethal weapons, dazzling graphics and dynamic gameplay combine with fantastic characters to create a truly suspenseful gaming adventure.
Infogrames, Inc. will support the release of La Femme Nikita™ with a fully integrated marketing and advertising campaign designed to generate consumer awareness through print and broadcast advertising, national consumer promotions and comprehensive web support. Developed by Infogrames’ Lyon House, La Femme Nikita™ will be available at major retail outlets in Fall 2001.
La Femme Nikita Sneaks Up on Playstation 2
IGN-PSX (5 February 2001)
Infogrames snags yet another license, this time with La Femme Nikita.
Infogrames announced another major license purchase today, this time aiming at a slightly different target base, with the interactive rights to La Femme Nikita.
Infogrames now owns the worldwide interactive rights to La Femme Nikita, based on the current TV series, not the movie, for next generation consoles as well as the PC. The first games are slated for a fall 2001 release.
Infogrames envisions La Femme Nikita as a fast-paced action game driven by its plot and featuring cooperative play elements. Players can select Michael or Nikita, and must prevent a terrorist group from achieving its devastating plot by completing non-linear missions with a range of gameplay-based skills. Players will infiltrate enemy bases, acting stealthily, and use team-work and restraint in order to complete their objectives.
According to Infogrames, the La Femme Nikita games will remain true to the TV series, which in itself is not very true to the movie, which was quite good.
For those who never saw the major motion picture or who have ever seen the movie, Nikita "is falsely accused of a hideous crime and sentenced to life in prison. Taken from prison to a place called 'Section One' -- the most covert anti-terrorist group on the planet -- Nikita is trained as a spy and assassin by Michael, a technical expert, who serves as her mentor and teacher."
"This agreement is another wonderful step in maintaining what has been a winning partnership between Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Infogrames," said Michael Harkavy, vice president, Publishing, Kids’ WB! Music and Interactive Entertainment for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "From Looney Tunes to Wacky Races, Infogrames continues to successfully create engaging video games based on our exciting entertainment properties."
Developed by Infogrames’ Lyon House, La Femme Nikita is slate for a fall 2001 release.
Ileane Rudolph, TV Guide (17 February 2001)
Roy Dupuis makes people mad. Some are mad about the boy: devotees of the French-Canadian actor, who plays Michael, the mysterious secret agent on USA's action-espionage series La Femme Nikita. Others are mad at him: specifically, Nikita producers, who wish he would move to Los Angeles to follow in the footstops of fellow Canadians Jim Carrey and Mike Myers and pursue the career of a movie star.
The 37-year old Dupuis does desire a bigger screen presence(he's done some critically acclaimed French-language movies), but he refuses to compormise his happiness by relocation to L.A. He even declined a chance to audition for the heedless rock star, played by Billy Crudup, in 'Almost Famous.' Instead, Dupuis is happy to stay in his farmhouse in the Montreal area, where he lives with his girlfriend, Canadian actress
Celine Bonnier, and continue to be picky about future roles. 'If there's an interesting movie that comes up, that I find important, I will certainly have a look at it,' he says.
Last summer, Dupuis was just getting used to being home following the abrupt ending of Nikita which was filmed in Toronto, when he got the call that the network wanted to produce eight more episodes of the series. Thanks to the combination of a massive fan campaign and USA's loss of wrestling, Nikita(Sundays through March 4, 10P.M./ET) returned last month. But since the network wanted to concentrate more on Nikita's quest to figure out who her real father is than on her relationship with Michael, Dupuis was asked to appear in only the last two episodes. (He's also directing the February 18 installment.) 'It was weird playing Michael again,' the hazel-eyed actor says. 'I had already mourned him, so it was kind of hard to believe in him.'
Believers in Roy Dupuis, however, are legion. 'He's probably the biggest star in his age range in Quebec,' says Nikita producer Jamie Paul Rock. Peta Wilson, who plays Nikita, is also a staunch admirer. 'I call Him Royal,'" she says with a laugh. 'he's very strong, very dominant. There have been a couple of times when I couldn't deal with things, and he'd take my hand, look straight in my eyes and ground me again.'
Dupuis' strength was forged in the French-speaking regions of Quebec and Ontario. The second of three children of Ryna, a piano teacher, and Roy, a meat salesman, he moved to Montreal with his mother at 14, when his parents separated. It was there that a movie about the French playwright Moliere changed the would-be scientist's career direction: He exchanged his physics class for one in theatre.
A few years later, the novice actor gained entrance to the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada. After establishing himself in French-language theater, movies and TV, he got his first important English-language break playing the Dionne quintuplets' hapless father in the 1994 CBS miniseries Million Dollar Babies. In 1997, his role in La Femme Nikita increased his fan base exponentially. But while co-workers say he's always gracious, the actor has never been comfortable with all the attention. 'I don't think he sees himself as a sex symbol,' says Rock. 'He's really proud of his art, and he's really good at it.'
Plus, he's "incredibly sexy," says former Nikita supervising producer Peter Lenkov. 'If he put 10 percent of his time into promoting himself, he'd be big.' Executive consultant Joel Surnow, who cast Dupuis in Nikita, describes him as the 'best kept secret. Roy is an unusual blend of male action machismo and a vulnerable romantic-a combination of Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt. Roy wants to stay in Quebec, but he'll leave soon. He'll have no choice.'"
Nikita's Romance Broken
Henry Arnaud, Le Lundi (14 April 2001)
Last year, the American TV network USA decided to cancel the series "Nikita". After more than 25,000 letters and emails from fans, "Nikita" will return. Peta Wilson is finishing up filming of the new episodes in Toronto. I caught up with the 30 year old Australian actress in NY. She talked about her return to the series as well as the character of Nikita, and her relationship with the director Damien Harris.
Peta, how did you handle the return of the series?
I'm happy to take on Nikita again. Because the last season ended badly. We ended the filming without finding a resolution for my adventures. What became of Nikita? Was she going to leave the Center and take up a new life? Would Michael ever go away without her? There were so many questions for which we owed our fans the answers.
How would you describe Nikita?
She is a rabid wolf disguised as an angel. I knew a lot of young homeless in Toronto, where we filmed the series for 4 years, who reminded me of Nikita. Teenagers who live on the street dress to scare, shock and repulse, because that's the image they want to project. But I've discovered the sensitive hearts and sublime souls beneath their shells. In fact, they're very vulnerable. I work for several organizations that help them get out of this situation.
How would you like to help these young people?
I would like to set up an foundation for them. I want to finance programs and classes in schools and colleges to help keep them stay in school. Right now the American school system kicks out troubled kids, and parents (wash their hands of them?). By themselves, these teens have little hope of getting out (of their situation). Special school programs could teach them a skill and a new life.
How does it feel to be Nikita after all this time?
The physical aspect of the character doesn't bother me, because I'm a tomboy and I've never been afraid to fight. On the other hand, this role demands a lot of psychological energy. Nikita lives in a turbulent universe, without friends or lover. She has no freedom, no outlet, no simple pleasures. I do a lot of yoga to keep from going crazy when I play Nikita. After a day of filming, I also like to practice meditation to cleanse my spirit. Acupuncture and other forms of natural medicine also help me maintain my equilibrium. But the world of Nikita sometimes affects my private life by making me more demanding of those around me.
Has the role affected your relationship with the director Damian Harris?
It's sad to say, but Damian and I are no longer together. The series demands 16 hour work days. At the end of the day, I don't want to go out, to talk or to meet people. That became harder and harder for Damian. I had no choice because there are 180 people working on this series who are counting on me. We've been separated for several months but it's still hard to talk about it. You can't live with someone for 8 years and then forget them from one day to the next. Damian is a director who's very talented and I wish him success.
It's been mentioned that you have a relationship with Russell Crowe. Is there anything to that?
There's no particular person in my life and I'm not looking to replace Damian right away. I tried to build a lasting relationship and it failed. There's no chance of my repeating that error immediately! And even less with an actor! I love artists but I prefer those who work behind the camera.
What's the future for "Nikita"?
I think that the 8 episodes we're finishing in Toronto will be the last of the series. That said, our fans forced the producers to make 8 new episodes, when the series had been cancelled last August. Perhaps Nikita will take up her service once or twice a year for a TV movie. I don't want more than that because I have other projects at the moment.
You're also going to be the star of "A Girl Thing". What's that about?
It's 4 women's stories which take place simultaneously in a four part mini-series. They have one thing in common - their psychiatrist, played by Stockard Channing. Sex, love, relationships, family - it's all there. "A Girl Thing" gave me the opportunity to participate in a project centered on women. Mia Farrow, Kate Capshaw, Linda Hamilton, Elle MacPherson, Camryn Manheim and Rebecca DeMornay are also part of this great adventure.
[translated by Maureen Kelly]
Peta Wilson: Her "Buff Body" Secrets
Diet and Exercise (Summer 2001)
The mega-fit star of "La Femme Nikita" has found several sports and workouts that keep her in incredible shape, both on-screen and off.
Never understimate the power of devoted fans! That's the lesson TV network execs have learned from the USA Network's La Femme Nikita. When this program was canceled in the spring of 2000, fans barraged the network with cards and letters asking that their favorite program be returned to the schedule. The USA Network listened to the fans, and eight additional episodes wrapped up loose ends on the series.
The great news for fans of series star PETA WILSON is that she's moving on to an exciting new project. At press time, Peta was filming a pilot for NBC with a working title of "Other People". The drama is based on the real-life doings of Sheila Balkan, a Santa Monica California criminologist and private investigator.
Peta has high hopes for her new series. She describes Ms. Balkan as "an amazing woman," and recently has explained to syndicated columnists Marilyn Beck as Stacy Jenel Smith that "She's hired by prosecutors and criminal lawyers to find out exactly who (a criminal) is from eveyone and everything around him, then she forms an analysis of what his rehabilition should be...if she was an man, she's be Bogart. If she was a singer, she'd be Sinatra...She's the cowboy who rides into town, fixes it and rides out." Sounds great to us!
A Life On The Move
In "La Femme Nikita," Peta's character was constantly on the run due to her clandestine work with a government anti-terrorist agency. In real life, Peta also has been on the move, for happier reasons. Her father was in the army and as a result the native Australian spent several years in Papua, New Guinea and other South Pacific sites.
During her childhood years, Peta worked her way to to the title of Australian Interservice Champion Trailer Sailor. Her father and brother also head the same honor, and they enjoyed sailing together. Many of Peta's favorite exercise activities still revolve around water; she enjoys scuba diving, swimming and water skiing whenever she gets a chance.
Peta relocated to Los Angeles in 1991 to pursue an acting career, studying her craft and appearing in feature films before landing the role of Nikita. Getting the part neccessitated a move near the Toronto filming site - and some major body toning! An Airborne Ranger put her through four months of intense workouts to buff up her 5'10", model-perfect body for the action role. Tai Chi and boot camp-like routines were among the activities that got Peta into strong, stunning shape, and she says the serviceman who trained her "taught me to defend myself."
Shape-Ups Fit For An Action Star
While filming "La Femme Nikita," Peta made the time to get in some shape-ups in the set. She'd perform Pilates-type moves, lift five- to ten-pound weights, and use a Body Bar for exercises like biceps curls and squats. Ab crunches and wall squats would round out her ambitious routine.
At times, Peta also has attended regular yoga classes. A couple of years ago, she told USA Today writer Jefferson Graham that "I was doing yoga every morning, Then I got sick with the flu and had to give it up for a while." She swapped this mind-body exercise for another approach. "Now, I just laugh a lot and stay postitve." The actress also has hobbies that clear her mind such as working on classic cars and reading.
"I think it's important that you're doing it for yourself," Peta says about exercise. "And when you're clear and focused, then your body will follow suit." This attitude has held her in good stead during 16-17 hours days of filming "La Femme Nikita," and while working on her new venture.
Dupuis Happy Chez Lui Again
Brendan Kelly, The (Montreal, Quebec) Gazette (22 September 2001)
It was a striking scene. The setting was an ostentatious home in the tony suburb of Rosemere, just north of Laval, complete with in-ground swimming pool, an expansive, carefully manicured lawn and a private tennis court. Canadian actor Michael Ironside - who's starred in everything from Scanners to Starship Troopers - was standing at the side of the pool, dripping wet, wearing a Speedo and a bathrobe.
Just inches from Ironside stood Roy Dupuis. The star of the television show Nikita was decked out in scruffy leather jacket and pants, and his biker-chic look was topped off by long, unruly hair and a face that hadn't seen a razor blade up close for a couple of days.
This odd couple were in a major-league argument, part of a key scene being shot for the Hell's Angels-inspired miniseries The Last Chapter. In the CBC/Radio-Canada drama, Ironside and Dupuis play fictional biker bosses Bob Durrelle and Ross Desbiens, respectively, who start out as pals and then have a falling out. In the scene they were shooting this week, things are turning nasty.
Director Richard Roy kept shooting the argument over and over, the kind of seemingly endless repetition that's the norm on most film shoots. But there was a significant twist here: from take to take, Dupuis switched from French to English. The $9.5-million, six-hour miniseries is being shot in both of Canada's official languages, a highly unusual undertaking.
Producer Claudio Luca notes that it is like producing two six-hour projects, with twice as much shooting and two separate post-production processes.
It is rare for CBC and Radio-Canada to collaborate closely on such a pricey project. And oddly enough, this drama, penned by Quebecois author Luc Dionne (Omerta), was initially developed at the CBC in Toronto. Radio-Canada came on board later.
Dupuis is doing all his own dialogue in both French and English. Later, after the director finally wraps the scene, Dupuis fires up a Camel Light and says he is happy to shoot a project in both languages. He is also one of only a handful of prominent francophone Quebec actors able to work easily in either language, with almost no trace of an accent in English.
"Sometimes having to do everything twice isn't fun," Dupuis said. "And it's never exactly the same in the two languages. It does demand a lot of energy and concentration.
"But at the end of the day, it's worth it. It'll be better in both languages. I've dubbed almost all of the TV series that I've done, and it's very frustrating for an actor to dub his work. You lose a lot."
He Dubs Both Ways
Dupuis is an equal-opportunity dubber - he's dubbed into both languages. He has dubbed his French work into English, including the phenomenally popular period series Les Filles de Caleb and the gay-themed movie Being at Home With Claude. He has also provided his voice for the French versions of his English TV shows, notably the miniseries Million Dollar Babies and Nikita.
Dupuis has always moved easily between the two languages. One of his first major English-language roles was in the sci-fi thriller Screamers, directed by Christian Duguay and shot in Montreal in 1995 - and even then he sounded uncannily un-French. He learned his street-savvy English as a teenager when he spent three years with his family living in Kapuskasing, Ont.
Dupuis first hit star status here in Quebec thanks to a string of top-rated series: the historical works Les Filles de Caleb and Blanche and the newsroom drama Scoop. His brooding, physical presence on screen set him apart from most of the actors here, and he added a sensual spark to a number of Quebecois pictures in the early 1990s, including Being at Home With Claude (considered by most to be his stand-out film role so far) and Cap Tourmente.
But he virtually disappeared from the Quebec film and TV scene over the past five years, spending almost all his time in Toronto starring opposite Australian actress Peta Wilson in the stylish espionage series Nikita. The show, which aired as La Femme Nikita on networks south of the border, ended production last year. But it has become a cult success story in the U.S. and many other countries around the globe, with Dupuis regularly receiving gushing letters from fans everywhere from Russia to Latin America.
Now Dupuis is finally back shooting in his home town, and he couldn't be happier. After spending 41/2 years commuting weekly to Toronto, Dupuis appreciates being able to return home to his 1840s farmhouse just outside of Montreal after a day on the set.
But he is also pleased to be working on more challenging fare and acting in French. Aside from The Last Chapter, he is shooting the film Un Homme et son Peche, a high-profile remake directed by Charles Biname of one of the classics of Quebec culture, based on the 1939 novel by Claude-Henri Grignon. Currently in production in the Lanaudiere region, the period piece also stars Pierre Lebeau, Karine Vanasse and Remy Girard.
Dupuis spent much of the summer renovating his house in the country, something he's been trying to do for years but simply didn't have the time for because of his day job on Nikita. He's enjoying the freedom of not being attached to a series, which is one reason he isn't particularly keen to sign on to another long-running TV project.
"I think I've done that," Dupuis said. "You never say never, so we'll see. But I want to stay chez nous for a little while. I want to be able to go home at night after shooting. I also miss the theatre and I'd like to do something on stage. But it has to be a new work."
Exploring a Text
Dupuis, who studied at the National Theatre School in Montreal, hasn't been on stage in seven years. He is currently talking to people about starring in a new play, perhaps early next year.
"What I really miss is the rehearsals," Dupuis said, his green-blue eyes flashing with something like emotion for the first time during the interview.
"I don't really miss acting on stage. I miss the gang in a rehearsal hall, this sense of family, exploring a text, pushing things to the limit. Also, there's no doubt theatre writing is more audacious, less censored than TV writing. Anything is possible in the theatre."
Dupuis also talks of taking off with a camera and shooting a little documentary.
"I just feel like being able to choose what I want to do," he said.