Karina Lombard Karina Lombard

Since making her big, early-'90s splash in Hollywood with the one-two punch of Wide Sargasso Sea and Legends of the Fall, Karina Lombard has been a hard one to peg — and that's not just because the actress, born in Tahiti and raised in Spain, has that wonderfully exotic, not quite placeable accent. No, her acting choices, varied in range, style and, alas, frequency, have also given her an enigmatic sheen. After appearing in only a smattering of films since Legends, she resurfaced in 2004 on a cable series, no less, and the series was the then brand-new (and groundbreaking) The L Word at that.

"That came out of the blue," she tells TVGuide.com of her being wooed by Showtime's sapphic series. "I was doing music at the time in Tennessee, and I kept getting these calls about this show about lesbians. But I didn't know if that was the first series I wanted to do, because with television, you could be on it a long time. I was really nervous."

But after spending some quality time with an L Word script and Marina, the character they wanted her to play, Lombard's decision became clear. "I was like, 'This is really good!'" she recalls. "What I loved is that the show was very much a pioneer, obviously, and I think it's so interesting to challenge yourself and do things that are kind of scary. It's good for the blood, you know?"

Lombard just may have had too good a time. "This obsession with Marina and wanting her back [on the show], it's unbelievable to me," she says. So why was Mia Kirshner's on-screen lover written off? "Marina left because... she was getting a little too much attention," her portrayer posits with a laugh, "and, politically, that was wrong."

What's an actress to do? Why, join the circus. Literally. "I worked with Cirque du Soleil [as a composer] for a while," says Lombard. "Then I came back, did a shoot for Playboy, and then I had a choice between a couple of things. I fell in love with this show called dr. vegas [starring Rob Lowe and on which she guest-starred], but it got canceled. My episode, though, was written by Ira Steven Behr, who's [now] the show runner for [USA Network's] The 4400, and he told me, 'I have this idea for you.' And last April or May, they offered me the role of Alana."

It was a match made in heaven — or, at least, in some warped reality spun by her changed 4400 alter ego. "Marina was such a powerful, interesting and stay-in-your mind character, how do you follow that up? You've got to have superpowers." Which Alana does. "I told Ira, 'Of all the powers you could have given me, to be able to take people into other realities is the best one.' Although healing is pretty cool, too."

The 4400 may mark her first foray into sci-fi, but Lombard has been completely sucked in like any ol' geek. "Our last episode, 'Hidden,' was really cool," she notes, "but the finale [airing Aug. 28]... well, you're going to be surprised. Things are going to unravel in a way very different from what, I am sure, anyone expects. It is very clever writing."

What the future holds for Alana  will soon be seen, and for Lombard, too. "I'm quite the strange bird, right?" she asks rhetorically. Jumping to and fro between acting and composing, she says, "has been an interesting journey. But music is something that's present in my life, so I may just 'go for it.' Not that I want to be J. Lo!"

Our conversation then wraps up with talk of another Jennifer, the much-discussed Jennifer Aniston. Lombard, who worked with Brad Pitt on Legends, understands the actor's complicated romantic decisions. "Maybe society says, 'This is wrong,' but it's his bliss," she argues. "What we should be reminded of is to ask ourselves, 'Am I happy? Am I fulfilled?' He obviously loved Jennifer, but this isn't about hurting anyone. It's about following your heart."