Dishing the dirt
Lucy Liu can get intimidatingly intimate, write Erin McWhirter and Darren Devlyn
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.