Jenni Baird, <EM>The 4400</EM> Jenni Baird, The 4400

In the season premiere of USA Network’s The 4400, we not only met the rather freaky Graham Holt, we also were unceremoniously introduced to the new head of NTAC, one Meghan Doyle. Who is this newcomer that's been thrust upon us? What happened to original boss lady Nina Jarvis? And might Meghan have designs on something more "romantic" than keeping an eye on the extra crispies? TVGuide.com invited Aussie actress Jenni Baird to spill Meghan’s secrets.

TVGuide.com: Welcome to the show! I enjoyed your first early scenes. I was getting a soft/tough Rene Russo vibe from you….
Jenni Baird: Oh, really? Isn’t that interesting? I watched it for the first time, so it was all new for me. I think the character is quite different from everybody else, so I’m interested to see how people deal.

TVGuide.com: What was the previous extent of your familiarity with The 4400?
Baird:
I saw the pilot way back when. I was in Australia at the time, and Jacqui [McKenzie, Diana] is a big star there, so everybody knew about it. It got huge promos down there when it first started.

TVGuide.com: I do a weekly podcast-type thing with my Aussie counterpart at News.com.au, and any time I mention Jacqueline McKenzie, there are oohs and ahhs.
Baird:
Oh, she’s a huge star there. Absolutely. I tell my Australian friends who I’m acting with and they all know her. She’s considered one of the best actresses down there.

TVGuide.com: I was looking at your gallery photo [above right], and it’s so kickass, even foreboding. I get the feeling that Meghan’s not going to be stuck behind her desk very often.
Baird:
[Laughs] Well, it’s funny because they started her off kind of subtly in my mind. They don’t throw me in, which I think is good.

TVGuide.com: But they’ve established her as a bit of a rule-bender, and threw her into the field with that whole Graham Holt thing.
Baird:
Yes, yes, yes…. I was running in a parking lot right off the bat, watching Tom load his gun! She doesn’t have any of that kind of experience, so she really has to just run with it without much prep. But she’s not one of those tightly wound characters; she’s not a stiff corporate type. She looks "odd" to me in that world, too, wearing jeans.... And she’s a thinker, so you see her improvising as she goes. There are no preconceived notions about how she will be on any given day.

TVGuide.com: Now, why this change in NTAC bosses? What did they tell you about the decision to bring on this new character?
Baird:
They said they wanted the boss to be more human, that they wanted to see more sides of the boss. The last one, I guess you never got into her personal life at all. She was very strict and stern and toed the line…. Come Episode 2 or 3, you see Meghan dealing with her father being on death’s door, you see a more emotional side to her.

TVGuide.com: Is Meghan married or anything, or is she destined for some sort of hookup with ol’ Tom?
Baird:
[Laughs] They tell me they could see the chemistry from the get-go, which is good. They kind of told me that if it all worked out, she would be a love interest for Tom. But thankfully they did a slow burn because he just lost his Alana. They need to tread carefully.

TVGuide.com: Plus if they get you too close too soon to Tom, it’ll raise Diana's hackles.
Baird:
That’s right. She’s very protective of him because they’re partners. Not that they’ve ever been romantic — it’s more of a sibling relationship. But she has an eye out, she’s wary of what’s going on, so they don’t get into the love thing very fast at all. But they do [eventually].

TVGuide.com: Who do they have you interacting with thus far?
Baird:
Mainly Jacqui and Joel [Gretsch], because it’s all NTAC.

TVGuide.com: So you’re not getting up in Jordan Collier’s grill or anything?
Baird:
No, I’ve only had one scene with Jordan, funnily enough.

TVGuide.com: If you had to decide, would you take the Promicin? "Death… or perhaps a special ability..."
Baird:
I think I value my life too much. I don’t think I could take that 50 percent risk of death. When I was in Monte Carlo, I asked a lot of the journalists that same question and half of them said they would take it. Maybe the French are more daring than we think? [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Remind American viewers where they might have seen you before. You guested on an episode of Justice this past season?
Baird:
Yes, I was a lawyer, which is harder than it looks! [Laughs] My first scene was with Victor Garber and I had three monologues of legal jargon — a frightening task. But I played a nurse for three years in Australia [on the medical drama All Saints], so I have had practice saying things I don’t understand.

TVGuide.com: The pilots you previously did here in the U.S., there was Metropolis with Keith Carradine….
Baird:
That was about six twentysomethings growing up in San Francisco post the dotcom era. It had Michael Ealy from Sleeper Cell, and Sarah Paulson from Studio 60…. And Keith Carradine was my love interest.

TVGuide.com: And Conviction, with Sally Field and Eriq La Salle — that was a legal drama?
Baird:
Yes, and I was an ADA on that.

TVGuide.com: Before we wind up here, I have to ask: Where’s your accent?
Baird:
Oh, it comes and goes. Because I work in my American accent, I never break out. Jacqui and I have an agreement, because she doesn’t break out of it either.

TVGuide.com: Oh, does she make you put a dollar in the "swear jar" that Conchita [Campbell, Maia] has?
Baird:
Well, I haven’t been caught by Conchita yet. But I think some people owe her a lot!

Let our Online Video Guide dial up some 4400 clips for you.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.