Dish­ing the dirt

Lucy Liu can get in­tim­i­dat­ingly in­ti­mate, write Erin McWhirter and Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

IT DIDN’T take Lucy Liu long to get down and dirty on high-gloss soap Dirty Sexy Money. Liu, renowned for kick­ing butt in Char­lie’s Angels and her short-lived run in 2008 drama Cash­mere Mafia, says her in­tro­duc­tion to the cast and crew of Dirty Sexy Money co­in­cided with the shoot­ing of a raunchy li­ai­son with the show’s youngest cast mem­ber, Seth Ga­bel.

Though in­ti­mate scenes are al­ways a chal­lenge, Liu says work­ing with a stranger is ex­tra tough.

‘‘I didn’t know him at all,’’ Liu says of Ga­bel.

‘‘That was pretty much it (our first meet­ing). It was the first day of shoot­ing be­cause we did ev­ery­thing in one day. There was a lot of get down quickly.’’

When told Ga­bel, who plays party boy Jeremy Dar­ling, was in­tim­i­dated by the prospect of get­ting up close and per­sonal with her, Liu says: ‘‘I think what can be in­tim­i­dat­ing for any ac­tor is you meet and then sud­denly you are do­ing a love scene.

‘‘Some­times it makes it eas­ier when you have had some con­tact. You get to know some­one on a more friendly ba­sis be­fore you jump into bed with them.’’

Liu could be for­given for feel­ing anx­ious about sign­ing on for the sec­ond sea­son of Dirty Sexy Money. Her last small-screen out­ing, Cash­mere Mafia, was a dis­mal flop and sub­se­quently can­celled.

Liu, how­ever, is not one to dwell on the past. The ac­tor who won over audiences as Ling Woo in hit se­ries Ally McBeal has eas­ily slipped back into sky­scraper heels for the role of Dirty Sexy Money’s Nola Lyons.

Hav­ing worked along­side Aussies Mi­randa Otto and Frances O’Con­nor in Cash­mere Mafia, she is again in ex­cep­tional act­ing com­pany with a cast in­clud­ing Peter Krause, Don­ald Suther­land and for­mer soap star ( Pas­sions) Natalie Zea.

Her first scenes may have been con­fronting, but Liu says they were a per­fect way to in­tro­duce her char­ac­ter.

‘‘I wanted to make sure she was some­what mys­te­ri­ous and you didn’t re­ally know where she was go­ing,’’ Liu says.

‘‘She is a char­ac­ter who is go­ing to come into the Dar­ling fam­ily and try to mess with what­ever is go­ing on. That is her MO right now, to shake things up a bit.’’

IT’S a great gig for Liu, who says she was a huge fan of the show be­fore be­ing asked to join the cast. In Dirty Sexy Money’s sec­ond sea­son, mem­bers of the Dar­ling clan — headed by Suther­land as Tripp Dar­ling — con­tinue to make poor de­ci­sions and find them­selves em­broiled in con­tro­versy.

For­tu­nately, the New York fam­ily has ide­al­is­tic lawyer Nick Ge­orge (Krause) to take care of them.

Liu has a rich list of TV cred­its, in­clud­ing Ugly Betty, Sex and the City and Joey. On film she’s shone in Kill Bill: Vol­ume 1, Lucky Num­ber Slevin, Pay­back and Domino. But it was star­ring along­side Cameron Diaz and Drew Bar­ry­more as Alex Mun­day in Char­lie’s Angels and the se­quel that sent this na­tive New Yorker’s ca­reer into over­drive.

Liu re­mains at­tracted to play­ing strong, feisty women.

‘‘I think peo­ple have a very clear vi­sion about what they want and I think they def­i­nitely need some­one a lit­tle bit more ag­gres­sive in this show,’’ says Liu, who turned 40 on De­cem­ber 2.

‘‘They didn’t need some­one to be meek. You needed some­one to come in and have the abil­ity to be a strong woman. (Pro­duc­ers) wanted to play the sex­ual game with her and see how much she could draw out in that sense.’’

Suther­land, as with Liu, be­lieves Dirty Sexy Money is a work of rare creative syn­ergy. It’s why he’s on the set of the TV drama rather than pur­su­ing film work.

‘‘Twenty-two hours of char­ac­ter in one year,’’ Suther­land says in re­sponse to a ques­tion about the ap­peal of play­ing Tripp.

‘‘This is ex­cep­tional be­cause it of­fers me the op­por­tu­nity to work with a ge­nius. Craig Wright (cre­ator) gives me words to say that I can’t re­mem­ber hav­ing had in a mod­ern­day piece of work. He’s bril­liant. He re­ally is con­sis­tently and ex­traor­di­nar­ily bril­liant. But what he gives me the op­por­tu­nity to do is find out pieces of the char­ac­ter and put them on film.

‘‘Re­gret­tably, a lot of them get cut out by the pow­ers that be, but I get to ac­tu­ally do them and that’s thrilling.’’

Shak­ing it up: Lucy Liu as Nola Lyons cuts to the chase with co-star Seth Ga­bel in Dirty Sexy Money.

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