She’s been bitching it up as Cordelia for nigh on six years – and for a while it looked like she’d be moving on to pastures new … So what is it that CHARISMA CARPENTER finds so irresistible about her role as Cordelia Chase on ANGEL?
Words: Jenny Cooney Carillo
Dreamwatch: Is Angel still fun for you?
Oh my God, yeah. I’m still having a great time. Especially now, with all the changes that are going on with Cordelia. I’m part demon now – I mean, what does that mean, what does that mean? How is that gonna manifest [itself]?
But you’ve always been part demon when it comes to being a hellraiser on the show!
True, but I mean literally now – and there’s a sensitivity that’s come to pass. I still have my moments. There were some scenes that I had when we were chasing the Slucks [in the third seasnon episode The Price] and I had to look down because we break into the bottom of the floor where they’re all harvesting. There’s a pool down there and we never knew there was a pool! I’m like, “Oh my God! We have a pool?” So that’s sort of like that [humour] never went away, which is fun. It’s fun to still have that and I miss doing it all the time. [But] I’m happy to have the dimension that we have now.
What’s the biggest challenge to be on a show like Angel?
The hardest thing is working on [instalments like] that episode about the Slucks! We had no idea what they looked like. I mean, we saw a picture and they had this crazy flashlight that they flash on the floor so you kind of have an idea [where to look]. Working on something imaginary has been a pretty big challenge epecially on that particular episode.
This has to be a bit of an extreme role because you’re an action girl, but you’re very glamorous as well.
Well, thank you. I was thinking about this today. You know Resident Evil, that movie with Milla Jovovich? She’s played Joan of Arc, and she played in the Fifth Element, and now she has Resident Evil going out… She’s such a hottie. She’s so beautiful and she plays an active hero! That’s something that I would really like to do, be a female Arnold Schwarzenegger!
How aware are you of the impact a series like Angel has in terms of popular culture?
I was out the other day and somebody was wearing a Buffy hat. I thought, “Wow, this is a really big thing, it’s everywhere!” I think it’s actually bigger abroad than it is in the US in a way because the WB network and UPN are in very few markets. I noticed when I went to France a couple of summers ago just how big it really is. Not to say that it’s not a big deal here, because it is, but it’s crazy over there [in Europe]. So, yeah, it’s not overwhelming or crazy and I’m not being followed by truck-loads of paparazzi every day everywhere I go, but I kind of like the level of celebrity that I’m experiencing.
Do you have a lot of fan mail that comes from abroad?
Definitely. It’s shocking. From New Zealand and really far away places. It’s very cool.
Do you have any experience in martial arts?
I have a martial arts studio right by my house. I got their schedule the other day so I’m anxious [to try], definitely. I have a ballet background and it kind of meshes with the fluidity and the grace of martial arts, but really its apples and oranges. When I go to do a more choreographed by Mike Massa [stunt co-ordinator on Angel], it doesn’t quite look like when he does it, so I want to practice that.
What’s the relationship like between the actors on this show as another season of Angel looms
I don’t remember it ever being as close as it is right now, actually. I was just thinking of that the other day. I guess this is a challenging time, but we’re all here all day long. The set-ups have been really quick and close, so there’s no need for us to go to our trailers and make phone calls and do what we need to do between takes. We’ve been actually kind of forced to stay closer and it’s been really, really nice. I’m really blessed. I feel really lucky.
So to what do you attribute the longevity of this franchise?
Well, I’ll leave that to the producers and the writers to answer because I don’t feel I could articulate that well. I do think a big part is the rapport that we have. I think that is evident when you watch the show. I don’t think that’s the essence of what makes a show work at all, though. [But] I watched episodes in my trailer the other night and I was so impressed. I was watching it with my acting coach and I said, “Oh my God, that was brilliant.” The show actually picks up [on the actor’s work]. Like the actor is a certain way and a show writes for that actor – I think that kind of helps, because there’s a connection. We’re all watching it and observing the same thing and then when the people on the show say [of Holtz, last season], “Maybe it’s your deep grisly voice that’s creeping me out,” everybody in the audience can kind of chuckle at that because that’s our experience as well.
Given the opportunity would you like to do a Buffy crossover again?
I have no longing desire to do that. Not that I wouldn’t want to see those people again, because I do see them all the time, but I think it’s really important to sustain our show the way it is. It’s really taken a life of it’s own and I think it’s really good to watch. It stands on it’s own. I think that [a crossover] would be more of a disservice or a regression rather than a progression, so I really don’t think that would help at all.
The fans like all the action sequences but what do they think of the romantic stuff?
Sex is so key! There’s not drama without conflict, so forget it. And love creates conflict, so yeah. It’s great to focus on all that.
Would you like to see Angel and Cordelia live happily ever after?
I don’t know. Nothing is ever happily ever after. There’s going to be conflict [in this new season] and I’m excited for that. I don’t even know that [the relationship] is going to be anything [important]. I’ve talked to the producers and nothing really indicates that. I’ve read interviews that they’ve given and nothing seems concrete.
You’re tracking this yourself too?
Heck, yeah, man! I want to now what’s going on too!
This interview originally appeared in Dreamwatch UK issue #98