By Jon Waterhouse
DragonCon guest Virginia Hey holds the rare distinction of being the inspiration for two different character action figures available on the market at the same time. That’s some serious geek cred.
Her roles as the Warrior Woman in The Road Warrior and as Zhann on the sci-fi TV series Farscape helped bring those toys to life. But before moving into TV and film, Hey had a career as a fashion model. Her film work started off with a bang with The Road Warrior. She later went on to land on the short and coveted list of Bond girls when she appeared in the James Bond film The Living Daylights. But she’s perhaps best known for her role as the blue-hued priestess on Farscape.
MTV Geek: So how did you move from modeling to acting all those years ago?
Virginia Hey: I had been modeling for quite a long time at that stage, off and on for about 10 years. One of the casting agencies I worked with was casting The Road Warrior. And a particular agent had asked me many, many, many times if I wanted to act. And I said, “No, no, no. It terrifies me. I don’t have any training. I’m happy doing modeling, and I eventually want to get back into doing art.” So she convinced me to read for The Road Warrior. She said, “Don’t worry. The character is wonderful. I think you’ll really like her. It’s not a real stretch for you, and there’s only about five lines of dialogue in the whole thing.” She tried to convinced me, and she begged me. I said, “No, no, no.” In the end I auditioned, and I was terrible. The director, George Miller, said it was one of the worst auditions he had ever seen. But he said, “Look, why don’t you do an improvisation, because you’ve got something.” So he had me do a series of improvisations, and he loved them. I got the role.
MTV Geek: What an amazing first movie.
Virginia Hey: Actually the first role and the last role in my career [as Zhann on Farscape] were the two most iconic roles I’ve played. Everything else in between I think was great. It’s scary for me to act. It’s terrifying. But I must be addicted to the adrenaline rush of the fear. It’s like bungee jumping I suppose. But after I accomplish it I get this great sense of satisfaction and an overwhelming feeling of well being. It’s probably the fight or flight hormones.
MTV Geek: There are so many things that are interesting about the Warrior Woman, the character you play in The Road Warrior. She’s sexy, but she’s tough and very striking. As far as the character goes, is this something you stepped in to, or did you have a hand in developing that character?
Virginia Hey: George Miller helped me. He told me the way he wanted to be exactly, and then they let me go. And if he needed to tweak it, he did. I didn’t know what I was doing. I have a feeling that some of what I was doing was from fear. I was so scared that I was rendered almost mute. So I knew that I couldn’t be me. I tend to be more bubbly and chatty as the real Virginia. And I knew that the character was very strong. I was encouraged by George to create a back story that was very sad. My family had been killed in the war, and I was left to defend my city and community. I had grown up pretty much as a warrior. I was emotionless, no love in my life, no romance. My whole life was just in order to defend and provide for my community. I didn’t develop as a woman, but rather as a neuter gender; more man than woman. So there was no femininity to the character whatsoever. However there was an energy that appeared when Mel Gibson and I worked together that was apparent on the screen. We didn’t realize it was there, Mel and I. None of us knew it was there until the film had been cut. Then suddenly George came up to me and said, “Oh my God! I can’t believe it. We were just putting together the final cut of the movie, and we all just stopped dead stunned when we saw this thing between you and Mel in a particular scene.” It’s this energy. It’s not words. He said, “Now I’m really kicking myself for killing your character, because we could have really played on this and extended the story into sequels.”