Call her La Femme Vampira. In the year’s most startling blonde-to-brunette makeover (move over, Christina), actress Peta Wilson goes goth for ”The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” In the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Wilson is nigh-unrecognizable as half-vampire heroine Mina Harker. It’s the 32-year-old Australian’s first big part since the 2001 cancellation of her cult-fave cable series, ”La Femme Nikita” (she took time off to have her now 16-month-old son). Wilson, whose ”Nikita” days are chronicled on a new DVD of the show’s first season, tells EW.com about working with Sean Connery, dealing with life after TV, and learning to suck blood.
What was it like becoming a brunette? I didn’t even recognize you at first.
We want you to look at Mina Harker and go, ”Who’s the girl? It can’t be the girl who played Nikita, can it?” I personally prefer being a blonde, but whatever it takes for the character. You can shave my head if you need to; it doesn’t bother me. I thought whatever was strange or uncomfortable about it would help my performance, so I never got stuck in the ego thing of ”Oh my God! It looks terrible.” But I’ve got to tell you, without makeup on, I looked as scary as a three-day-old breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast, how did all that fake blood taste?
It was like syrup. It was very sweet. It was yummy. When we did the first take [of the movie’s blood-sucking scene] I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to rehearse it because she’s very, very repressed and virtuous. So when she bites, she’s not in practice. She doesn’t do it a lot. I wanted to just do it and let it fall where it falls and let it be as untidy as it is. They were worried that the character was so repressed she wasn’t going to be sexual. So in the first take, I did it full on — there was so much blood and it was… [growls provocatively]. The director loved it, but he said, ”Now we should do the PG-13 version.” And that’s what you see.
Any good Sean Connery stories?
I went out to dinner once with him and his wife. At the end of the dinner, my house was only a five-minute walk away, so I said good evening, and Sean said, ”No, no, you can’t walk.” So he walked me home to my door. It was a very old-fashioned, gentlemanly thing to do. Another time we all went out with the crew for a party, and he asked me for a dance. And when we danced, I realized I was way out of my league — I couldn’t do what he was doing. So he just lifted me up ever so slightly off the ground. He’s got a lot of strength. I’m not a light girl. He was waltzing to jazz music, and it’s very difficult to do that. But he was doing it really well.