The Life of an Alien Lizard Queen: An Interview with Monica Baccarin

PopMatters sat down with Firefly and V. star Morena Baccarin in February 2011 to get her thoughts on working with Joss Whedon and playing an alien lizard queen.

Though she’s since become known to fans of the contemporary remake of the sci-fi television classic V, in a former TV life Morena Baccarin was known to fans the world over as an interplanetary prostitute on Joss Whedon’s heralded but short-lived series Firefly.

Inara Serra was really more than just a mere hooker in Firefly (and its follow-up feature film, Serenity). In the late 25th century world concocted by Whedon, Companions like those played by Baccarin are really high-society courtesans and part of the social fabric. Naturally, Inara Serra is something of a tormented soul. Coming as Baccarin’s first steady Hollywood gig, it was also an unforgettable experience.

“It was a blast,” Baccarin said, in part because of her work with Whedon.

“Joss was great,” she explained. “He's really specific about his work; he knows exactly what he wants."

Baccarin said of Whedon, "I feel like he is the kind of person that allows for so much creativity," she said. She added a tongue-in-cheek caveat: “Generally speaking, he is always right.”

Firefly and Serenity also gave Baccarin a taste of what it’s like to become a key figure in sci-fi fandom, especially after the experience entered her rear view mirror.

“It was humbling to see how many fans there are of Serenity," she said. “It’s like an underground fan base.”

It’s something she’s likely experiencing all over again now that V has just wrapped its second season. On the show, Baccarin plays Anna, the Visitor Queen and High Commander of the sinister alien invasion.

“Reaction has been good,” Baccarin said of the ongoing series. “This (was) a much more action-packed season…Lisa doubts if she wants to be a queen.”

Though it might seem as though it would be a piece of cake to play an emotionless alien, Baccarin said she actually finds it to be a tricky proposition.

“Having no emotions is the most difficult, to tone it down,” she said.

One way of ensuring she can keep emotions out of the character as much as possible is to not let them get in the way of her private life. One way to ensure this is to avoid looking herself up on Google because she’s wary of seeing what people might be saying about her.

“I don’t want to believe the bad stuff,” she said.

As for what comes next, Baccarin said she might like to try her hand at something outside the realm of sci-fi, perhaps dabbling a bit in comedy.

“For me, it really is about the story and characters,” she said. “Inspiration is key for me in choosing characters.”

Fans of the Brazilian-born actress would likely contend she’s already done a pretty good job of that already.

Additional reporting by Charles Wallace

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