About.com Action Adventure 5/5/04: Victoria Pratt
Victoria Pratt Interview: Star of Mutant X
From Fred Topel
Superheroes aren’t only in the movies. There are some perfectly good mutants on television, and Victoria Pratt is one of them. As Shalimar Fox on TV’s Mutant X, Pratt plays a woman with extra strength and speed from her combined human and animal DNA. Pratt called up from her LA home one afternoon long after she’d wrapped the third season. We talked about everything from her work on the show to her real life martial arts and fitness training, her academic background and her thoughts on moving into movies.
How have you adjusted to cast changes on the show?
Cast changes are a hard thing. For two years, we had this little family and it’s a close knit family. And we weren’t together when these changes were decided upon. It all happened during our hiatus. So it was really weird to come back day one of season three without Lauren and John. Everybody knew Karen, our new addition to the cast. We all knew her because it was the same production company that did Adventure, Inc. and we all liked her. So I knew she was going to be a great fit because she’s got this great positive energy. We get on like a house on fire. We sealed the deal with a couple pitchers of Sangria on a sunny patio in Toronto. We knew from the start we were going to be great friends. And she has just been a godsend on set. We have so much fun.
What does she do? She and I laugh all the time. And neither one of us have a dainty laugh, so there’s just peels of laughter coming from the set all the time and I love that. I love it, love it, love it, love it.
Who have you bonded with most closely?
You know what? It’s hard to say. I mean, Karen and I, we have that whole sisterhood thing and we’re both complete goofballs. We’re the anti-divas. We’re having fun and we love to goof, but I have a special bond with Victor and Forbes too because they were there at the beginning. It’s just a real weird nurturing set. It’s awesome that way. It’s hard to pick one because you get different things from each person.
Has there been any talk of a movie version of Mutant X?
No. I think we’d probably be sued again.
It was hard enough just getting the show?
That’s the thing. It’s the Marvel world and Marvel’s making all kinds of movies, but I don't think Marvel will be making Mutant X.
So Avi doesn’t come to the set and hang out anymore.
Avi never did come to the set and hang out with us guys.
Do you read comic books yourself?
No, I don’t.
Have you seen the recent comic book movies?
Well, I saw the X-Men movies. They were great. And I saw Daredevil and I’m looking forward to Elektra. And I think The Punisher should be kind of cool too. I like that genre. I never was really into comics as a child and I think if you miss the boat when you’re a kid, you don’t necessarily pick up on it when you’re an adult.
How hard was it to learn film fighting vs. real fighting?
It gets tough sometimes. I fight a lot on my own with a bag, with a heavy bag. So I get used to kicking and doing my combinations with resistance. So when you’re fighting with a stunt person, your intent is to miss. So where I used to be able to set up jumps a certain way after having bounced back from the bag, sometimes it’s harder when you can’t make contact, only because that’s what I’m used to.
When you see the show, are you convinced by the fighting?
We don’t move on in the stunt unless it looks like a hit. So when I see it on TV, I’m generally satisfied that people are going to buy it.
What actresses do you look up to?
Yeah, there are a lot of actresses out there that I admire. I think in my contemporary field, I think Jennifer Garner does an incredible job in this genre. I haven’t seen 13 Going on 30 but I’ve seen the trailers and she looks just adorable in what she’s doing. There are a lot of great actresses out there. You learn to appreciate each one for what they offer.
Do you have anything lined up for after the show?
Not really. I’ve got a few irons in the fire. We’ll see what happens.
Will you do more TV or film?
Maybe a little bit of both, but I love the show.
How often do you do conventions?
We don’t do conventions for Mutant X.
Not even general sci-fi conventions?
I did them for Xena and Cleopatra. When I get a chance, they are so fun. It’s a nice chance to be able to see all the people that you used to work with, and the fans are so great. They are so committed and just so interested. And I think it’s so neat that from the two episodes season opener I did on Xena, so many of those people have followed me to Cleopatra and then again onto Mutant X. It’s a really neat world.
People don’t bring you Mutant X stuff to sign? Yeah, they do. They download pictures off the internet and stuff like that, but I think because of the lawsuits, we weren’t really able to do any merchandising. So there aren’t any.
You can’t have a Mutant X convention because of the lawsuit?
That’s my understanding. I’m sure there’s a lot more to it than just that.
So no Victoria Pratt action figure?
Do you read the internet sites?
No, should I?
How often do you practice martial arts?
Well, when I’m in Toronto I don’t do much in the way of kickboxing and martial arts. When I’m in LA, I probably do it about four times a week.
What distinguishes your style from the others?
There are so many different kinds and some use a lot of grappling techniques and some it’s just the way you hold your foot when you’re kicking. To be honest, I think that I’ve probably absorbed a lot of different styles through all of the fight choreographers that I’ve worked with. When I was in New Zealand, I did some Thai kickboxing which is just brutal. Way too brutal even for me and I’m a pretty brutal person. But it’s a lot of grabbing of the head and bringing it into your knee. So different fight choreographers use their favorite techniques. Because I don’t go through the whole belt system anymore. I don’t’ pursue that. I don’t have time to go to structured classes like that. You end up picking up a lot of different styles, so I imagine if anyone was to try and analyze my style, they’d be like mm, I don't know.
What was the last belt you held?
God, I don’t even know. It was so long ago. It was when I used to live in Toronto. Because you know, when you try to go to regular classes, it’s every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from six to eight. Well, I work from five o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock at night, so you can’t commit to it. Which is a shame because I really do enjoy it, but I guess when you’re younger and you maybe think ooh, maybe I’ll compete or do something like that, that’s when the belts are important. That‘s why they were important to me. But now I do it for fitness and I do it for self defense, so the belt grading system isn’t important to me anymore.
What is your daily workout?
Well, I’m doing rehab on my back right now, so my daily workout, right now I’m not doing any kickboxing or weights right now. I’m just doing some back exercises and just general strengthening exercises to try to get myself back into top shape again.
When did you hurt it?
I hurt myself years ago. Probably eight years ago. I herniated a disc. Luckily, I’m a very strong person. I can deal with it. But it goes out sometimes and I just never really had the opportunity to get it back into tip top shape. You know, all the stuff on the show and I get patched up and sent back out onto the front lines, but I’ve never taken the time to really fix the core problem which is what I’m doing now.
How did you herniate it?
I was just over training when I was doing dead lifts. You get tired at the end of a workout, you’re not paying full attention. I was getting ready for a fitness contest, so you’re not eating any fat in your diet. Your body’s just ready to break down and mine did, which is a shame because I’m galled that my body was able to do that to me. I feel so healthy in every other way but my back steps in every now and then and says, “Uh-uh, you’re not Wonder Woman.”
What is your diet?
I eat a really clean diet. I always have. I eat a lot of protein. I eat a ton of vegetables. I try to go easy on the starches and sugars but I don’t limit myself. Like if I really want something, then I’ll have it. I’ve got a weakness for margaritas. I just try to eat a really low fat diet and then I can have the treats when I want them, you know.
How do you feel about being a sex symbol?
Who’s calling me a sex symbol?
I believe you’ve been on a few lists.
That’s cool if people think I’m a sex symbol.
Why did you leave academics for acting?
I have no idea. It wasn’t anything that I planned on doing. I kind of fell into it and it all really did stem from my academics. But acting isn’t the be all end all either. I mean, there are a lot of other things in my life that will bring me joy if I didn’t act anymore.
When did you lose interest in research?
I’ve never lost interest in it. It’s just I didn’t have the time for it.
Could you help train our next generation of superathletes?
[Laughs] When I was in university, my dream was to be a coach, like a high school track coach. Not to teach at high school, but I remember the Farrells, Jordie and Earl Farrell, they were my coaches when I was in high school. And they were so cool. I thought that’s what I want to be, that’s what I want to do. I like that. And it kept them young. They were hip, they were cool. And I could see that for myself.
Has acting been everything you hoped for?
You know, I didn’t hope for anything. It just happened. So it’s not like I was a little kid saying I want to be an actress, I want to be an actress. And I didn’t tough it out in the trenches for years and years before ever getting a job. My very first audition, I got the series. It’s been grand, but I’ve been really, really lucky with it.
Did you ever have to pay your dues?
Well, I’ve been working some really long hours for the last five or six years and I mean really long hours. Anybody who works on series television knows, and especially women because women spend probably two hours more than the guys with all their hair and makeup crap. I think I’ve paid my dues that way. I’ve really put in a lot of time on set.
Has it been hard to make the transition to movies?
I can’t say that I’ve made the transition to movies.
Is it something you struggle with?
No, I can’t say that it’s a struggle either. I’ve been really fortunate to go from series to series to series. I mean, I know that in the whole hierarchy of things, it’s ingrained in actors and actresses to always want something different, and it’s ridiculous. You see it almost all the time. People get on a show and they fought tooth and nail. How many people come to LA in pilot season hoping to get a series? I mean, almost 95% of the actors out there want to be on a television series. Then as soon as they get onto one, no, no, I want to be a movie star. This television series stuff, no, no no. Well, I’m here to tell you that my very first television series bought me a really nice house and I’m very, very grateful and happy. And my second one has been a lot of fun and it’s helped me feel really stable and it hasn’t been a struggle for me to try to make movies because I’m very happy doing television. As I would be very happy doing movies. You know what I mean? I love to work and I think I’m a little different. I think I’m a people person. I get very attached to people. And I’ve become so attached to all the people on my show, the cast, the crew and the producers. I’m very happy doing a series. And I don’t look at it as settling. I look at it as a really fantastic job that I love. It always bothers me when I see actors who, I don't know, who just succumb to that hierarchy and think that there’s something grand and glorious about doing movies.