Openly bisexual actress Kristanna Loken may have made her biggest pop cultural impact by playing the sleek and deadly Terminatrix in T3: Rise of the Machines (2003), but the 27-year-old actress has been acting almost all her life, beginning with a recurring role as Danielle Andropoulos on the daytime soap As the World Turns in 1994. More recently, she played a vampire hunter in the Guinevere Turner-penned horror flick BloodRayne (2005), a tree nymph in Sci Fi’s In the Name of the King (2007), and single mom (and Shane’s girlfriend) Paige on the fourth season of Showtime’s The L Word.
Her varied acting experiences have prepared her well for her newest role, the title character on Sci Fi’s new series Painkiller Jane. Loosely based on the comic book series of the same name by Jimmy Palmiotti, the television show is about a covert agency that tracks down neurological aberrants, or "neuros." Loken’s character, former DEA agent Jane Vasco, discovers that she has some abnormal skills of her own: She can be injured — and she can certainly feel the pain — but she heals very quickly and can survive experiences that would kill ordinary people. In the process, she kicks a lot of ass while taking down the bad guys.
Loken is co-executive producing the 22-episode series, which premieres on Friday, April 13 at 10 p.m. EST on Sci Fi. I recently talked with her about her new series, her experiences on The L Word, and how she feels about Michelle Rodriguez, with whom she has been linked romantically. "All I can say is I’m a very honest person," she told us, and her honesty just makes her all the more appealing.
[Warning: Some spoilers ahead for Painkiller Jane and The L Word.]
AfterEllen.com: Can you tell me how you became involved with the show? You’re an executive producer now too, right?
Kristanna Loken: Sure, yes. I had done a miniseries for Sci Fi called Dark Kingdom [later renamed Curse of the Ring ] that aired last year that did well for the network, and they had been trying to create something and work with me in another capacity. The foreign producers that we worked with for Dark Kingdom were also working again with Sci Fi, and … Sci Fi had been trying to develop Painkiller Jane for a bit. They did a pilot a couple years ago that they just weren’t quite pleased with, and they thought maybe they could develop it better with me.
I wasn’t sure at first if I really wanted to sign onto a huge commitment of 22 episodes, but I actually fell in love with the comic. I’m not a comic book person by trade but Jimmy [Palmiotti] really created a very rich, very unique character. … Even though [Jane Vasco] heals from her physical traumas, she takes on the mental and emotional pain, so she’s a bit tortured without being depressed. So I thought a tamed superhero would be a fun dichotomy of a character to play with.
I had produced my first independent last year called Lime Salted Love that premiered at the Whistler Film Festival and is now going to be at the Long Beach Film Festival, and I’ve been doing this since I was 13, and … producing just kind of seemed like a natural progression for me. So I decided that if I wanted to come on board for 22 episodes and make this huge commitment … I wanted to have some creative control over it, so that’s when they also brought me on as a creative co-exec producer as well.
AE: So how much input do you have into the story lines?
KL: A lot. [Laughs.] Some people say, "Oh well, they give the star a producing credit and there you go," but that really wasn’t the case at all and hasn’t been the case with me. We’re shooting here in Vancouver, and our writing and obviously heads of offices are in L.A. and New York, so … for the first few months I was the only creative producer that was here in Vancouver. So all of the questions were being filtered through me — story line-wise, questions from other actors, locations. You name it, I heard about it — to a fault [laughs].