Natasha Henstridge, <EM>Commander in Chief</EM> 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.