Maggie Q

When we last saw the reluctant assassin Nikita, she was a blonde. But the hair color of the lead actress — Peta Wilson then, Maggie Q now — isn't the only change you'll notice when you tune in to the CW's bold reimagining of La Femme Nikita, the cultish 1997—2001 USA Network series. Early intel suggests this isn't your parents' Nikita. Here's why.

1. It isn't just a rehash. As in the cable series, the 1990 French film that started it all and the 1993 American remake Point of No Return (starring Bridget Fonda), Nikita is a former bad seed abducted by a shadowy government agency and trained to knock off key targets. But the CW version moves the action to a time when our heroine has gone rogue and is now trying to thwart her old employers. Executive producer Craig Silverstein says, "We approached it as if she was a mini version of James Bond or Batman. Those things have been rebooted over the years, too."

2. Youth will be served. Given that Nikita's lead-in is teen-skewing The Vampire Diaries, it makes sense for Nikita to use youthful recruit Alex (played by Lyndsy Fonseca of Kick-Ass) as her eyes and ears inside the agency. You'll find out more about their secret partnership going forward and also see how Alex morphs into an effective operative. "In previous versions," says Silverstein, "there's a quick montage that covers a year or two of Nikita being trained by the agency. Whatever they do in there to turn her into an über-assassin — we want to look into that through Alex."

3. Love hurts. Any romance between Nikita and her mentor Michael (Shane West), which propelled the Peta Wilson version, is a thing of the past here — but the tension remains. And oh, how they fight. The third episode finds the onetime lovers squaring off in a brutal scene that was so difficult to film that Maggie Q was left with "hematoma bruises" from head to toe. "They want to kill each other because they can't sleep together," she jokes.

4. Potential guest star...Jackie Chan! OK, so Chan hasn't signed on quite yet, but Maggie Q, who was a protégée of the action star while getting her start in Hong Kong, says, "Why not? The only thing he can say is no. I can beg, though, and I can cry on cue — I'm an actress!" For now, viewers will have to make do with Marvel Comics' Stan Lee, who will appear in the series' fifth episode. "He's a huge Maggie Q fan," says Silverstein.

5. It's not Gossip Girl with a gun. Silverstein admits that the dark tone — which includes vicious beatdowns and subtle dialogue — has been directly influenced by the Jason Bourne movies. And so far, the CW is letting them do their thing. "They haven't said, 'Make it lighter,' which is good," says Silverstein. "That's something we cleared with them when we first pitched this. We said, 'This is not going to be Gossip Girl with a gun, so if you want that, don't buy this.'" Luckily for TV junkies, the network bit.

— John Sellers

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