In today's Sci-Fi Blast From The Past, the beautiful and talented Victoria Pratt talks about her first season playing Shalimar Fox on Mutant X.
Mutant X’s Shalimar Fox opens the door to the Safehouse and walks inside. “We’re ready to go,” she says, closing the door behind her. The feral beauty then sits on the railing of the walkway and listens as Adam Kane, the group’s leader, and teammate Jesse Kilmartin talk with Charlotte, a new mutant whose mere touch can change one’s moral compass. Because of an incident from the past involving Adam and her father, Charlotte feels she is entitled to a place on the team.
“I’m sorry, Charlotte, but you’re not joining Mutant X,” says Adam.
“Fine. If that’s the way you want it, then that’s the way it has to be,” she answers, getting up from her seat. The young woman brushes Jesse’s hand as she walks by him and heads towards the steps leading to the walkway.
Without warning, Jesse begins to hyperventilate. He looks at Adam and says angrily, “Where does it say that you get to make decisions for everyone?”
“Jesse, what’s wrong?” asks Shalimar. She starts to walk down the steps and passes Charlotte, who brushes against her shoulder.
“Was I talking to you?” he asks. Adam tries to speak but Jesse interrupts him. “I’ve had it!”
A wave of dizziness briefly overcomes Shalimar, who blurts out, “And I’ve about had it with your attitude!”
“Stop it both of you!” orders Adam, but he is ignored. A smug Charlotte watches as Jesse whirls around and Shalimar prepares to leap over the railing to attack him.
“That was great!” says Mutant X director Drew Potter. The scene being rehearsed is for an upcoming episode of the series, Altered Ego. As the actors move off the set, the lighting crew comes in to do their work. Since she will not be needed for a while, actress Victoria Pratt, who portrays Shalimar Fox, suggests finding a spot in the “Sanctuary set” for a chat. A year ago, she was fighting to save humankind as the formidable Sarge in the futuristic Science Fiction series Cleopatra 2525. Nowadays the actress is still battling it out with the bad guys on Mutant X and in a role she absolutely adores. However, according to Pratt it was not love at first sight when it came to Shalimar Fox.
“When I read the first script I thought, ‘You know what, maybe this isn’t the right part for me after all.’ The character of Shalimar as originally written was a completely different person,” explains Pratt. “She was very aggressive, mean-spirited and not well-liked. In fact, she was a lot like Sarge only with animal DNA. As much fun as I had playing Sarge you can’t play that same type of character forever. It was only after I met with the writers and they saw that I was a flirt and loved to goof around and laugh that they began to think, ‘Maybe we can take this character in another direction.’
“For example, originally when Shalimar and Emma [Lauren Lee Smith] first meet they immediately dislike each other. All I could think was, ‘That’s so stereotypical. I don’t want to play someone that catty,’ so they changed it. Now the two women have a special relationship as well as a deep connection and I’m pleased about that. I think it’s important for the good guys to get along because there are enough bad guys to dislike,” she jokes. “After all, this isn’t Melrose Place. It’s not a soap opera where we need that sort of internal conflict to make it interesting to watch. So once I’d heard they were re-tooling certain aspects of the program I became interested again, and I’m so glad I did. I love my character now and I’m thrilled to be a part of this show.”
Shalimar Fox’s mentor and Mutant X’s enigmatic founder Adam (John Shea) was once a biogeneticist at the biotech firm Genomex. He resigned after learning that his research was being used to cause genetic mutations in unwitting human beings. The experiments endowed each test subject or “Child of Genomex” with superhuman abilities. Adam has pledged to help these “new mutants” learn how to use their powers and protect them from being exploited or even killed by such ruthless individuals as Mason Eckhart (Tom McCamus), Genomex’s security chief. Shalimar was the first recruit to join Adam’s cause.
“I think we’ve got the viewers curious about Shalimar’s relationship with Adam,” notes Pratt. “Because she was the first member of Mutant X, they have a certain closeness. Shalimar is Adam’s confidant and vice versa. They share a lot of information that they don’t necessarily pass on to the rest of the group. There’s actually been some buzz on the Internet as to whether or not they’re lovers or even if Adam is her father. He feels this tremendous guilt over what happened to Shalimar and the other Children of Genomex, and I don’t think the show’s writers are quite sure where to go with that yet, which is neat. Mutant X has been picked up for 44 episodes, so we can take [that relationship] wherever we want. John and I enjoy doing scenes together and we have a good on-screen chemistry. It’ll be fun to see what happens with our two characters as time goes on.
“Some viewers are also wondering if there’s anything going on between Shalimar and Jesse [Forbes March],” she continues. “In the first episode [The Shock of the New] Adam explains to Emma how possessive and territorial Shalimar can be and how protective she is of those she loves, and that includes Jesse. So that got people thinking, ‘Ooh, maybe it’s her and Jesse.’ From the start, though, I think the writers have tried really hard to make it more of a brother/sister bond with Jesse and Shalimar. However, when you get a bunch of young people together in a beautiful spot you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen,” jokes the actress. “As for Shalimar’s relationship with Brennan Mulwray [Victor Webster], it’s pretty much as it seems. He’s the new guy on the team and my character is happy to have him as a friend and colleague.”
The actress makes a dramatic entrance in the opening teaser of Mutant X’s premiere episode The Shock of the New. Shalimar and Jesse move in to help new mutant Emma deLauro, who is being chased by a group of Genomex’s hired hands. Pratt’s feral alter ego descends from a nearby rooftop and lands on top of an SUV ready to do battle with the enemy. It’s a moment she will remember for a long time to come.
“I’m a very athletic person and I think that’s probably one of the reasons why I get to do a lot of my own stunts,” says Pratt. “However, I’ve never done a decelerator fall before. A decelerator is a huge truck with these massive cables. The producers asked me, ‘Are you interested in doing [this stunt]?’ I said, ‘Yes. It’s my character’s introduction. I definitely want it to be me.’ What can I say, I’m weird that way,” she laughs. “Because this machinery is so expensive to rent I wasn’t able to practice beforehand. They did do a trial run with my stunt double, bless her heart. I watched her as she did it and figured, ‘OK, not a problem.’
“We shot the scene at night. I walked onto the set dressed in a tight leather outfit with high heels and a long coat. The stunt guys strapped me into this special harness and these cables pulled me off the ground and four stories up into the air. I looked down and saw this itty-bitty dot, which was the SUV that I was supposed to land on. I asked myself, ‘What were you thinking?’ My parents live only a couple of hours away and they happened to come up to visit me that day, so they were down below watching. All I kept thinking was, ‘Please don’t let me die.’ Luckily, we have what’s probably the best stunt team in Canada, so I knew they’d take good care of me.
“Believe it or not, the landing was as soft as jumping from the sidewalk onto the street. When I landed the first thing I did was take inventory. ‘OK, I’m alive,’ I thought. ‘Oh, wait a sec, I’m not done. I’ve got to kick some ass.’ By the third take I was confident that I wasn’t going to die and could therefore carry on with the remainder of the action. I’ll never forget, though, the feeling of hanging up there with my heart racing, then falling and just hoping fear wasn’t written all over my face.”
Fighting crime and super-villainy doesn’t leave a gal much time for a life, let alone a boyfriend. However, Shalimar does find Mr. Right in the first-season episode Fool for Love. The man in question, Richard Saunders, a researcher at Genomex and, surprisingly enough, also a feral, was played by Canadian actor Yannick Bisson.
“Shalimar not only falls in love in this episode but she must also decide whether or not she would like to give up her special powers in order to stay with this man forever,” says Pratt. “The story is very emotional. It has everything in it that I’ve always wanted to do as an actress but up to now hadn’t been given the vehicle in which to do it. I thought Yannick Bisson was terrific. He has a martial arts background and there’s a fight scene we do that’s like ballet except that it’s incredibly sexy. Because our characters are both ferals it’s as if they’re playing with each other rather than trying to actually hurt one another. The episode was such a blast to do and I’m proud of how it turned out. It’s definitely my favourite so far this season.”
There were some critics that panned Mutant X when it first came out. However, the series has proven to be a favourite with Science Fiction fans, who have also responded favorably to Pratt’s portrayal of Shalimar Fox. “I think about the TV shows that influenced me when I was younger,” says the actress. “I used to always watch The Bionic Woman. I loved to pretend that I was bionic. These days, I get letters from little girls telling me, ‘Shalimar is so neat. When I grow up I want to be just like her.’ That makes me feel good,” says Pratt with a smile.
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