Natasha Henstridge, Commander in Chief
Sure, all the headlines have been about the backstage
power-shifts going on at ABC's Commander in Chief
(Thursdays at 10 pm/ET), but there's a whopper of an on
-screen power grab on the horizon. (Three words: Templeton in charge!) On the way to work yesterday, Natasha Henstridge
, who plays the silver fox's chief of staff, Jayne Murray, spoke with TVGuide.com about Chief
's never-boring term.
TVGuide.com: The fact that you're on your way to the set kind of answers my first question about whether new show-runner Dee Johnson is working you.
Natasha Henstridge: Uh, yep! Actually, this, 7:30 [am], is the latest morning I've had in a very long time. Normally it's 4:30, 5.
TVGuide.com: As candidly as you can say, from where you sit, how has the Rod Lurie-Steven Bochco-Dee Johnson transition affected the show?
Henstridge: Well, we'll see in a couple of weeks, won't we, when we find out whether the show is coming back or not. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: It truly is one of the great shames of this TV season. Chief opened so strongly and with such promise, but it didn't have a chance to gain traction.
Henstridge: Yeah... I know they don't give shows a chance, but when a show opens with 17 million viewers and you win Golden Globes and are nominated for awards... for me, it was such a shoo-in. And then to go through these different phases was unfortunate, to say the least. I walk out on the street and people are like, "Where is your show?!"
TVGuide.com: Have you seen or felt difference in this latest batch of scripts?
Henstridge: It's hard for me to be specific, but there have definitely been changes made. At a time, President Allen (Geena Davis) couldn't make decisions on her own; there were three men helping her. And then it came back to what it was meant to be in the beginning, which is a really intelligent female character who is strong enough and compassionate enough to make decisions on her own. For my own [character], there was a moment there that the audience will never see — I probably shouldn't be saying this — where Jayne was becoming promiscuous, and there were these things that were not only "out of character" but a bit gratuitous. I've been trying to get away from that sort of thing my whole career. Unless it's something really funny or really brilliant, I don't really want to do that.
TVGuide.com: So were you disappointed when they pulled in the reins on the Jayne-Jim romance, or did you feel it was too soapy?
Henstridge: That was such a great "in bed with the enemy" kind of thing, and there were so many dynamics in that relationship that I thought were fascinating. I thought that was really well done.
TVGuide.com: There was a beat in last week's episode where you could see...
Henstridge: ... she'd like to continue the relationship, or is at least curious, yeah.
TVGuide.com: Some of your acting choices indicate to me that Jayne, despite her agenda, truly admires President Allen.
Henstridge: You are so right. How could she not? Regardless of what her political views are, regardless of how much she wants Templeton to be in office — because 1) he's amazing and 2) she'd like to be there with him! — how could she as a female in that position on the Hill not respect the first woman president and some of the ballsy moves she makes? So yeah, I've made a decision to show that Jayne definitely admires her.
TVGuide.com: There's a neat twist coming up in the May 4 episode, where Templeton seizes charge of the country when Mac is hit with an appendicitis attack.
Henstridge: That's going to be a goody! [Laughs] I play "Jim Gardner" in that episode, basically. It's a really juicy little episode. Regardless of whether we know it's only for a 24-hour period or whatever, what we do with that time is amazing.
TVGuide.com: Some may wonder if Templeton had a role in causing the attack. [Laughs]
Henstridge: Yeah, right! If the ratings dip, you'll realize that we planted something in her office that made her sick....
TVGuide.com: Is Donald Sutherland's silvery mane as lush as it looks?
Henstridge: Oh, he's got the most beautiful hair and the most beautiful smell.... I sound like a woman in love, and I am on some level. He's such an amazing actor and he's so funny.
TVGuide.com: Hey, you're not alone. He's got "First Daughter" Caitlin Wachs going around calling him "sexy."
Henstridge: He's got sex appeal, I've got to tell you. The man has definite sex appeal. No two ways about it.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease about the season finale?
Henstridge: Hmm... there may be a traitor in the midst of Mackenzie Allen's team. Let's put it that way.
TVGuide.com: What are your plans for the hiatus?
Henstridge: I am going to Cabo next week. I am auditioning. I have some movies offers.... I don't know which or what I'm doing yet, so I could be in Italy, New Mexico, Canada, depending on the movie.
TVGuide.com: Which might we get to see first, The Whole Eleven Yards or Species 4?
Henstridge: Um, I would have to hope for The Whole Eleven Yards, although The Whole Ten Yards wasn't so hot. [Chuckles] I don't think either one of those movies will happen.
TVGuide.com: I asked Kristanna Loken a similar question regarding Terminator 3: Did Species, as a career-starter, lead to everything you had hoped for?
Henstridge: Oh, my god, it opened every possible door for me....
TVGuide.com: Was it a risky decision at all?
Henstridge: It wasn't even a "decision," to be completely honest with you. I had auditioned for four films in my life at that point, so when they asked me to do a movie with Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley, I was all in! I don't regret it for a second. Certainly, people can get typecast, no doubt about that, but that just means you have to work a little harder to break the stereotype, I guess. Commander in Chief is a pretty good way of doing that! A lot of people literally say to me, "I didn't know you were the girl in Species!" What a compliment for an actor.
TVGuide.com: Was making She Spies as much fun as it looked?
Henstridge: It was truly the most fun I have ever had making anything. We had the best time, and I forged amazing, amazing friendships with the two girls [costars Kristen Miller and Natashia Williams]. I spoke to both of them just yesterday. It was rumored to be the most fun set [of its time]. "You have to do a guest spot on She Spies! You'll have the best time!"
TVGuide.com: You've been rendered on South Park, appeared on Howard Stern's radio show and done a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Are you a guys' girl?
Henstridge: I'm more of a girls' girl since I've grown up a little bit; the woman inside has "blossomed." But it very much makes sense that I have two sons. I have such a tomboy quality ,and I feel very comfortable in the presence of men. I "get" the way men think. I'm half man, quite frankly.
TVGuide.com: Not any half we're seeing.
Henstridge: [Laughs[ I definitely get along with men very well. I've never been a girly-girl.
TVGuide.com: You moved to Paris at the young age of 14 to break into modeling. Did that play a big role in who you are today?
Henstridge: Absolutely. Those were formative years and traveling and experiencing different cultures and being in the mad world of modeling made the rest of life seem easy! Being from a small town in Canada, it really opened my mind and is definitely a huge part of who I am today.