Actress Maggie Q has been a frequent presence in movies and TV over the course of the past two decades, starring in such diverse projects as Mission: Impossible III, the Divergent movies, and the TV series Nikita and Designated Survivor.
Maggie’s new movie, The Protege, is directed by James Bond veteran Martin Campbell, and sees Maggie as the titular protege of Samuel L. Jackson’s wizened hitman. She’s soon squaring off with another professional killer (Michael Keaton), while a biker gang led by Robert Patrick is also in the mix.
In the film, Maggie did most of her own stunts, even though she had undergone spinal surgery just two months prior to starting work on the film.
During her recent visit to Philadelphia ― which also included throwing out the first pitch at a Philadelphia Phillies game ― Maggie Q talked about her experience on the film, what it was like to work with those leading men, and what she’s got coming next.
So how did you spend your pandemic/quarantine period?
Well, I had to like “Escape from Europe” on this movie. I got back to L.A. right at lockdown. We had not finished the film, but we had a few months break in between going back to Europe and finishing it. So I took a good few months of rest, like right at the beginning of it. And the rest of the time I worked- I shot a show. So I was really busy during the pandemic, actually.
So the movie was filmed [in part] after the pandemic was over?
We started in January, we paused in March, [when] we got locked down, and then we went back to film in August.
So I understand you had spinal surgery, not long before?
Yes, two and a half months before.
Wow. Did you have any trouble getting medical clearance, or [whatever insurance people objected]?
Well, they couldn’t technically tell me what to do, my doctor, but he did advise against doing this movie right after surgery. But I didn’t have a choice ― they were ready to go, and I was not really ready to go. You gotta bring it when you bring it, right?
Was it still painful, to do all those fight scenes?
Yea, it’s painful already, and that sort of port-surgery, you have that little question mark, that little worry in the back of your head.
You’ve done a lot of fighting in different movies and shows. What was the flight choreography like with this one? Was it similar to what you’ve dealt with before, or was it different?
No, it’s never similar, interestingly enough. Because it’s always a different coordinator, and they always have a different take on things. They all design very differently, depending on who you get.
These guys, I’d worked with them before, in that I know the big Hollywood heavyweights who trained them, and brought them up in the business. So it was their time to shine too, so that was really fun to see them again and be able to create together.
So what was it about this project that attracted you to it?
Martin [Campbell, the director.] Martin sealed the deal. I mean, the script was great, but you can still have a good script and get on the phone with the director and not see eye-to-eye. And we absolutely knew exactly what movie we wanted to make.
So you jumped at the chance to work with him?
I really did… not until I spoke to him. Because I mean, there are people who have names, and you may not have the chemistry, you may not get along. But Martin was adamant to not sort of doing a lot of what we’ve seen in this genre, that really didn’t excite us. So what he didn’t want to do was actually very important to me, and it was good to know that. Sometimes it’s as important to know what you don’t want to do as much as what you do.
Had you worked with Samuel L. Jackson before this?
No, first time.
What was it like working with him? Did you get a lot of good stories out of it?
We got along really well. I got along really well with the men in this movie, we had nice chemistry, friendship offscreen. So onscreen it really helped us because the collaboration was very- it’s natural to collaborate with someone who you see eye-to-eye with, and you can actually have a dialogue. It’s tough when you don’t have that.
What about Michael Keaton? What was that experience like?
Oh, he’s awesome. Michael is so awesome. He’s just so, so talented, and it’s one of the few times in my career when I really looked at it and said “if it wasn’t you, it wouldn’t be as good. Period. Full-stop, irreplaceable.
Yea, it was kind of Out of Sight thing, where it’s the couple gunning for each other.
But not really.
…and there’s a romance aspect to it as well. I thought that part was interesting as well.
I thought it was fun.
So what are you working on next? What do you have coming up?
I have a show coming up on Fox in January, called Pivoting, and it’s a comedy.
That’s great, what’s it about?
It’s about three women who lose their best friend, and it’s really all about that time in your 40s where you look at your life and you question whether you’ve made all of the right decisions: Did you marry the right person? Have kids for the right reason? Chose a profession for the right reason? So it’s all about how they have to turn their lives around.