Actress Jolene Blalock has become a sort of genre maven. Fans first caught notice of Blalock with her role as the Vulcan T’Pol in the Star Trek television series Enterprise. After four years on that series, she’s criss-crossed the globe and the genre with guest appearances on Stargate SG-1 and a major role in the movie Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Although she’s done several projects outside the sf/fantasy genre, she’s continually drawn back in – by the fans and her own tastes as well.
The actress recently appeared in an two-episode stint of the syndicated series Legend of the Seeker, produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. Loosely based on the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, the series has continually grown its audience similar to Raimi and Tapert’s previous success Xena: Warrior Princess, and recently entered its second season.
In her guest appearance, Blalock assumed the role of Sister Nicci, a member of the mystery Sisters of the Dark who are vying to stop Legend lead Richard’s quest and destroy his ally Kahlan, a Sister of the Light. After years of playing on the side of the good guys in Enterprise, seeing Blalock try a darker role such as in Legend of the Seeker has been an eye-opening experience.
For more, we recently spoke with the actress...
Newsarama: How did you end up getting involved with Legend of the Seeker, Jolene?
Jolene Blalock: Actually, I have a relationship with the casting director. Ages ago they called me to try out for a different role, but our schedules didn’t match up. They called me back for this role as Sister Nicci, and I was glad to take it.
Nrama: For those that haven’t seen the episodes yet, what can you tell us about your character Sister Nicci?
Blalock: As I was portraying Sister Nicci, I had to hold firm in the belief that she is inherently good and pure; not evil, although she’s a Sister of the Dark. And I believe that whether she’s labeled a Sister of the Light or Dark, her intentions are clear and sold. I do think that sometimes you can lose focus of the bigger picture when you’re blinded by the passions of your own intentions, which is what Nicci is. Sister Nicci has been playing this encounter for awhile; when she finally crosses paths with Richard, it’s a long-awaited moment for her.
At that point, Sister Nicci is acting out on a plan she’s been convening for awhile – every word, every sentence is very well rehearsed in her mind. She’s had time to play this movie forward, to expect what will happen at each step of the way. As each moment unfolds, she feels a sort of self-satisfaction in the perfection of her execution. The key is the subtlety of it all.
Nrama: For these two episodes, you really take over and put the two leads Craig Horner and Bridget Regan on their toes. What’s it like playing a villain?
Blalock: Well, it’s all perspective really. I do believe that Sister Nicci thinks that her quest is good and true, you know. So it’s really a battle of agendas – each one believes they’re right. So I think what makes Sister Nicci different from the others is how much more calculated she is. She’s had time to plan this out, while Richard and Kahlan haven’t.
Nrama: What was the experience like traveling down to New Zealand to film this role?
Blalock: New Zealand is an incredible place. What makes it is the people, because they are incredibly kind. I’m used to people who are pretty set in their ways and in their own world, so meeting people who are so outgoing and conversational has been a joy. The cast and the crew were very outgoing.
Nrama: After this two episode stint, could you foresee Sister Nicci coming back for future episodes down the line?
Blalock: Possibly. I don’t want to say too much.
Nrama: That’s understandable. Moving on, let’s talk about your career; you’ve done a variety of genre work – from sci-fi to horror and now here with fantasy – while also doing more traditional spots like on House M.D. and the movie Slow Burn. What’s it like signing on to do something like Legend of the Seeker with the costumes, more fanciful storytelling and special effects work?
Blalock: Sci-fi and fantasy will always hold a special place in my heart. It always presents the question of “what if?”. What if we lived on another planet; what if we could jump through the timeline; what if we could meet another intelligent species. Those stories always hold a special place for me.
Playing in a more realistic story like the ones you mention have their own draw, as they’re essentially about the human condition. So one is about very big ideas, and the other is playing something more dramatic and closer to the heart. Although sometimes you’re lucky and you have both in one project.
Nrama: Since your role on Enterprise, you’ve jumped around and done a variety of movies and guest appearances on television shows. Are you looking for a long-term commitment like Enterprise, or do you like the freedom of going from job to job?
Blalock: That’s been the ever-lingering question for me. Yes, I would love to get up and go to work every day, but there’s also something amazing about being able to travel to New Zealand, South Africa or Hawaii for these small jobs. There’s something incredible about being able to pick up and go, and having a potent experience and then coming home again.
Honestly, I don’t know. If the perfect opportunity arises, I’ll take it.
Nrama: What would be the perfect opportunity, Jolene? What’s your dream project?
Blalock: Hmmm… my dream project? Doing some fantastical story in the fantasy genre. I loved Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and would love to work in an adaptation of one of his stories.