Pic from Safesearching
Here's Karen's interview with Media Blvd
where she talks a little more about what's in store for her Flash Gordon
character, Baylin. Hope you guys are enjoying the show so far! :D Karen Cliche on Playing a Bounty Hunter from Mongo
Catch James and Kenn on The Two Doctors Radio Show
on Sunday Nights for the latest in SCI FI. This weeks episode (Aug 26, 2007) will be playing parts of Karen's interview.
By James Iaccino and Kenn Gold
Karen Cliche has had roles in numerous action/fantasy series over the last few years, including Mutant X, Adventures Inc, and Vampire High. Her latest role is as the bounty hunter Baylin, sent by dictator, Ming, to retrieve his wayward daughter in SCI FI’s re-imaged classic, Flash Gordon. As the story progresses, Baylin decides to stay on Earth, and becomes friends with Flash, Dale and Zarkov.
Karen recently set down with MediaBlvd Magazine to discuss the new series, and her character Baylin, who is totally new to the Flash Gordon mythos. Baylin has a major part in this week’s episode of the new series, when she and Flash must travel back to Mongo to find a cure for the bite of an insect from Mongo that is killing Flash’s best friend.
Kenn > Most of your roles have been very action oriented, is that something you seek out, or just kind of how it works out for you?
Karen > Yeah, it’s funny. That’s just something that ended up happening and every show I kept getting required that. There are several reasons for that. There’s something I like about it obviously. And there’s a lot of things I relate to with the characters- not necessarily the anger part, but really the tough coat of armor that they wear when underneath there’s just mush. The strength always comes from a place of vulnerability and I’m really drawn to those types of characters. I think another reason too, is maybe it’s just rare to find a woman who can pull that off. Unfortunately, most roles for women are damsels in distress, or the secondary lead, the wife, the mom, and all that. But I think it’s a combination of things. Once people start seeing you in those roles, you get associated with that, which is fine with me. I absolutely love it.
Jim > Do you do most of your own stunts, because even in Flash Gordon, you are throwing yourself around at times. Is that mostly you?
Karen > Yeah, that’s me. There are things I don’t do that I leave to the very capable professionals- the high jumps, the flips- I couldn’t even come close to doing any of that stuff. For insurance purposes we can’t, even if I could. But I do all of my own fights. I take great pride in being able to do all of the choreographed fights. But the bigger, more dangerous stuff and the gymnastics, I can’t do, so I leave that to my beautiful stunt girls who come in to throw themselves off of balconies.
Kenn > Are Baylin and Flash going to become an item, or is Baylin going to get a love interest?
Karen > If you stay tuned a few more episodes, you’ll see somebody from her past comes back. Barin, as a lot of Flash Gordon fans will know Prince Barin, comes in for a few episodes. Steve Basic, who I think a few people will know from Andromeda plays Barin. It turns out that Barin and Baylin, when they were young, there was something going on, and it’s never quite explained. Whether it was a deep friendship or a little something else, in the few episodes, there is definitely a little smooching and a little bit of tenderness there. But when it comes to Flash, I think all we are doing is setting the seeds and planting the ground for potential opportunities for that kind of interaction between them. So there is the sort of sexual tension and Baylin certainly loves to play that on any man who is around her. Right now, I think they are concentrating much more on the Dale and Flash relationship. If the show goes a long time there are endless possibilities. We haven’t shot any episodes that explore that aspect of it. It’s going to start with a very deep friendship and who knows what will happen.
Jim > Do you see yourself contributing to the comedic elements of Flash Gordon?
Karen > Actually comedy is something that I really love to do. And not a lot of people know the comedic stuff that I have done in the past. But it’s definitely something that I really love to do. In Flash Gordon, Baylin has so many opportunities for those comedic moments. She is an alien on the planet Earth. When somebody comes in from a different culture or a different society, there are moments where they are awkward, and they say inappropriate things, and the mannerisms are different. It just shows that Baylin is very lost in this environment sometimes. I love playing those moments, and I hope I do a good job! That’s definitely an attribute I want Baylin to have. She’s such a serious person and takes everything she does so seriously. At lot of the times when she’s funny, she’s not trying to be, and that’s the best kind of funny.
Kenn > So can you tell us what’s going to happen when Flash’s mom comes home?
Karen > Flash’s mom and Baylin have actually met, and it’s not awkward because Flash and Baylin are in an awkward position. It’s more that her manner and demeanor are so strange. We made up an excuse that I’m an exchange student, and Baylin has this thing where she doesn’t lie, or she’s a terrible, terrible liar. So that’s a funny scene where Flash told me what to say, and I’m so ridiculous. But she has met me, and I am rooming with them.
Kenn > One of the major criticisms I’ve seen of the show is where Flash is threatening your character with his mother? Do you think that’s fair?
Karen > Every actor, every show, we are all used to the criticisms, and everybody has different opinions and that’s all totally welcome. I already see, people are starting to turn a little bit and trying to give it a chance. I hope the show is going to be judged for what it is, and not the expectations that people have. When people just watch the show free of judgments, I think that people will realize, that when he threatens people with his mom, that’s silly. I think it brings a lot of charm to the show, those little silly jokes.
Jim > After the next couple of episodes, does Baylin change her attire at all? Are we going to notice as Baylin assimilates to Earth culture that she starts wearing Blue Jeans, or tank tops or whatever, or are you going to have that warrior guild?
Karen > Yes, she does change sometimes, but she always stays with the same themes. She loves her browns and her greens, so she doesn’t stray too far from that color scheme. So when she does dress in more human themes, it still has that very Virden edge. Virden is the tribe that she is from. She’s not necessarily in jeans and T-shirts ever, but maybe season 3 will get her in a pair of jeans. For the moment, especially when she travels back to Mongo on assignment, and she’s there to save somebody, she’s always in her Baylin attire. Eric Johnson and I have been talking that we really need to do a scene where Baylin and Dale go shopping, in a mall, where all Baylin is picking out is camouflage and green. And Dale is like 'No, try some pinks!' The fun part of this show is that Flash, Dale, Baylin, and even Zarkov are all on Mongo and have to go in disguise. So we have to have these costumes where we blend into the other tribes on Mongo. You get to see Baylin in very colorful sexy clothes at times too. So she does get out of her fighting garb once in awhile.
Kenn > It seems that every interview we see, the whole cast is very open to giving each other compliments? What is it about the show, is it that you all just have so much fun together or that you are all such close friends?
Karen > I don’t think any of us really knew each other. John Ralston and Jonathan Walker had done a couple of guest spots on Adventure Inc. and Mutant X as well. Apart from that, no one knew each other. I’ve been very lucky on all of my shows, that it’s been just absolutely great chemistry. I did a show six years ago called Vampire High, which was my first series. And it just really set the tone. We worked together sixteen hours a day and we wanted to hang out on the weekends. Just yesterday, Eric had a barbecue, and I was there and Gina was there. We just love hanging out with each other. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are all very nerdy people, we’re geeks. We’re silly and we’re professional, and everybody else is as well. So it just makes for a great energy. Throw in some incredible talent, and you just have a great mix. And I really think it’s going to maintain that way for as long as the show goes. The worst thing I can imagine is going to work and just hating anybody. I’d shoot myself, that’d be terrible, but we don’t have that.
Jim > You mentioned that people had certain expectations because they were familiar with the Buster Crabbe serials or the 1980’s movie. I was just curious if you were familiar with any of Flash Gordon before you took on this role?
Karen > I didn’t know anything about this character of Flash. I remember hearing about it, but never paid much attention. One of the head writers on the show kind of brought it to my attention, and he had been on a couple of the other series I’d done. So he kind of gave me a head’s up, and Rick Rosenthal who directed our pilot, directed me in one of my shows with Aaron Spelling eight years ago, so we’ve kept in touch the whole time. Once I got the show, what drew me to this was the character. I’m going to have to live as this character for a long time, so I better like her. The more I started finding out about Flash Gordon and the long history that it has, and the love that people have for it just made it more exciting. But since my character is new, there weren’t any expectations. But people have a certain expectation of who Flash is and how he’s acting, and what he looks like. And the same goes for every other character. I really like that we can go into this and creatively make Baylin this person free of expectations.
Jim > Would you consider Baylin a sort of hero in her own right?
Karen > Absolutely, in the pilot, you are introduced to Baylin as this sort of blunt violent person, and you think because she works for Ming she’s evil. But as the series progresses, you really start to understand who she is. She’s only working for him to survive. It’s like working in a grocery store- you only do what you have to, to survive. And she’s really good at beating people up- which made her a great candidate for a bounty hunter for Ming. She and Flash make a great team, because he brings along certain aspects in his quest for his dad, and she’s really drawn to that. She’s drawn to his heart, because she’s been alone all of her life. She loves the fact that in Zarkov, Flash, and Dale, she has this family. And Flash loves having her on his side because she is from Mongo. She can provide useful information, and can kick butt along the way. As the show progresses, they just become a really great team together.
Kenn > I think on the show this week, it’s the first time you go back to Mongo and interact with Ming and Rankol. And Baylin really slams the door by lying to Ming. Do you have any more interaction with Ming or Rankol in the stuff that you’ve done so far?
Karen > Of course Baylin, because she is on the run from Ming and Rankol, tends to try to stay away from them. She doesn’t want to be captured by them, or be reprimanded for quitting her job. So she stays away from that whole thing. But there are some moments where I get to play with John and Jonathan, and that’s just really great. There’s only a few times where I’m ever in that predicament. But there is this scene where they go back to Mongo, and Flash tells Baylin, ‘If I get caught, go on without me.’ She is just absolutely shocked by this, that someone would sacrifice themselves for her, for the first time since she was a child and her parent’s died. So that’s another great bonding moment, and as a result of that she lies and protects Flash, because there is now that bond. That’s pretty much how it continues for the rest of the show. They really watch each other, and watch each other’s backs. It’s great.
Jim > You’ve starred in a lot of Sci Fi fantasy shows, do you like that genre?
Karen > I wasn’t even that sporty growing up, and I wasn’t in to these kinds of shows. My favorite show was Golden Girls, and my favorite movie was When Harry Met Sally. It’s really completely different from what I do. I love romantic comedies and pure goofy comedies as well. It’s something I’ve learned to love. Now when I play a normal girl, I’m kind of like 'This a bit easy and a bit dull. Where are my super powers, let’s kick some butt!' I’ve definitely learned to crave this kind of genre stuff. It’s so creative and you get to use your imagination, and that’s why we all became actors.
Kenn > For anyone that isn’t watching, is there anything you can say to draw them in? Maybe we are looking for a tag line for the interview?
Karen > All I can say is that just from our experience, every time we get the scripts, some are much more exciting then others. Some are more action filled, and some are more exciting then others. When you watch for an hour, you are just in for an action filled experience, some with silliness, drama, darkness, wit, romance, relationships- there really is so much that anybody can draw something from the show, and say ‘I like this- I want to see where this is going.' Or some people are really going to be interested in the Mongo stuff. I’m going to be really drawn to that aspect of the show, and I’m so lucky because I’m from Mongo. I think there’s something for everybody, if you just give it a chance and accept it for what it is. Then I think people will just absolutely fall in love with it. I’m completely convinced of that. We really believe in the show. Its fun and you really love the characters as well.
Jim > Would you classify Ming as evil, or just misunderstood?
Karen > Because our show is a modernized version, everybody is a more contemporary version of what they were. Ming, being this over the top evil dominator of the galaxies, we tried to tone that down and make him more realistic for the times. The way I see him is as a very power hungry man—one of those really, really rich corporate executives who just wants to dominate the world of finances or whatever. I just see him as a power hungry man who will go to any extremes to maintain his power and acquire more. At the same time, you get these very few, very subtle moments with his daughter Aura. No one is ever one dimensional; there are little aspects to us. So we try to show that part of Ming sometimes. There are elements to him that keep him realistic, and we are intrigued by him. He’s a very good looking man, and he’s an egocentric person, but he’s not just pure evil. He’s very complex. You never know what he’s going to do. I think it’s much more interesting to have this multi-dimensional bad guy. I think John does a great job with the character.
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