Jane Badler’s performance as the brilliantly bitchy Diana was truly out of this world, and helped establish V as a cult classic. SciFiNow talks to the actress about her iconic role in the series, and about appearing in the modern remake.
You achieved international fame and cult sci-fi status playing Diana, the evil alien leader in V. Did you ever imagine that, 27 years later, that role would still be something you’d be so associated with?
Absolutely not. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that it would have so much impact. So many years later, I still have so many fans; it’s extraordinary.
When casting the role of Diana, Kenneth Johnson was looking for an actress with “a compelling, frightening presence” to play “a domineering dominatrix who is incredibly sexy, seductive and probably bisexual”. Is that how you envisaged the character, too?
Totally. I think at that age I certainly did have the sexiness, but I had to work on the danger part of it. That was something that Ken helped me with.
Some actors say that to play any character, they need to have understanding and empathy with the person. Did you understand and empathise with Diana at all?
Yeah, I did, I liked Diana. I thought there was something very likeable in her transparency. She didn’t hide her huge ambition and her fearlessness. I loved that about her. And, for me, it was a fantasy character. I could be this totally amoral being, without any harm coming to me – it was fantastic.
Although Diana was a ruthless character, she still had an element of vulnerability, didn’t she?
Yes, she did in her desire and her ambition. I guess there was vulnerability in the need for that and in the constant coming up against conflict where she couldn’t attain what she wanted. I guess there really was a bit of vulnerability and I think that just came through. I wasn’t planning for that to come through, but I think it did.
What was the experience of playing Diana like for you?
It was just an incredible ride. I was coming from daytime soap operas and the amount of fame took me by surprise… It was an amazing ride and I’m lucky to have had it.
The V miniseries and V: The Final Battle told a terrifying tale of invasion and subjugation plausibly. However, the 19-episode TV series descended into a sci-fi soap opera. How did you feel about that?
I think some of the cast members felt more strongly than I did. Of course, it didn’t have the integrity and the dignity of the miniseries, but I still had a very good time doing it. I still had a lot of fun because every day I was still playing Diana, so it was still a good experience.
The V series also lost an element of credibility as a result of major continuity gaffes and repetition of the same special effects sequences. Did that frustrate you and other cast members?
Yes, it totally did frustrate cast members – a lot. It was an unfortunate thing that Kenneth wasn’t involved in it.
Apparently the heels of both of yours and June Chadwick’s boots would often get stuck in the grates on the Mother Ship. Is this true?
Yes, they were constantly. Also, often when you watch us walk, we often walked strange because we had the high heels and we were on the grates. When I watched the TV series, I realised that we both had a very funny walk.
It became high camp in a way…
It did, of course it did. It became high camp and a lot of people weren’t very happy and, unfortunately, there was a bit of tension on the set because of that. I had a good time and I enjoyed myself.
Diana had great moments: eating the guinea pig; assassinating Pamela, then John; and fighting Lydia with laser weapons. Do you have any favourites?
I guess eating the rat would have to be one because it took so long to film and it was such a pivotal moment, even though now it looks completely silly and very fake. For its time, though, it was extraordinary. But just working with Ken on the miniseries was the high point for me. That was just outstanding and I was very lucky to have that experience.
Did you watch the first season of the recent V remake?
I did and I liked it. I think it’s very different; it’s much more in keeping with what’s happening in the world now. It’s more contemporary because it’s part of the new millennium, and the acting styles are very naturalistic. It deals more with terror cells than the Nazi invasion. It’s subtler; you have to really listen and watch and want to see it. I think it’s getting more and more crazy, too. I think it’s really good and I hope people stay with it. They’re doing a great job.
The remake seems to have adopted a very slow-burning style, while the original was wall-to-wall action. What are the pros and cons of each approach?
It’s a time thing. I think the original V was very much of its time, that’s the way things were done then. Now, it’s a little more cerebral. It’s not like wow, wow, wow, lots of special effects. It’s more about the story and the characters, but I think that’s the way television is now. Although I like both, I think the original V was probably more astounding. I think people were shocked and delighted and scared, whereas now, I don’t think this V has had that same effect.
You’re currently filming the second season of the new V, playing Anna’s mother. Tell us about that.
I guess I was always the one that, in their minds, was a possibility if they decided to bring back a character. When I heard that Anna’s mother was to be called Diana I found it very hard to believe that they could bring in a character named Diana without using me, it would be absolutely ridiculous, they’d have to call her something else. It’s a weird, freaky, exciting thing for a character, 25 years later, to come back. The fans have gone crazy already and for them, and me, it’s a fantastic thing.
V: The Mini Series is out now for £20.99 through Warner Home Video.