Exclusive Interview: Monique Gabriela Curnen talks Taken
Taken is a new show that premieres on Monday, February 27th on NBC. If the name sounds familiar it’s because it is a modern-day prequel to the popular Taken movies starring Liam Neeson. Here’s the official description:
From executive producer Luc Besson (“Taken,” “The Fifth Element”) comes a modern-day edge-of-your-seat thriller that follows the origin story of younger, hungrier former Green Beret Bryan Mills (Clive Standen, “Vikings”) as he deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world. As he fights to overcome the trauma of the incident and exact revenge, Mills is pulled into a career as a deadly CIA operative, a job that awakens his very particular, and very dangerous, set of skills. In 30 years, this character is destined to become the Bryan Mills that we’ve come to love from the “Taken” films. The cast includes Jennifer Beals, Gaius Charles, Brooklyn Sudano, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Michael Irby, James Landry Hébert and Jose Pablo Cantillo.
I had the opportunity to talk to Monique Gabriela Curnen recently. You’ve probably seen Monique on TV in The Following, Lie to Me, Person of Interest, Sons of Anarchy, Elementary, or The Unusuals, or on the big screen in The Dark Knight or Contagion. It’s always a pleasure to talk with Monique, regardless of the topic, but this time we focused on Taken.
Were you a fan of the Taken movies before you were cast in the TV version?
MGC: Yes, absolutely! Liam Neeson is magnetic, it’s fun to see him do his thing in the movies.
Tell us about the show.
MGC: It’s the origin story of that character [Bryan Mills] as a younger man, but it is set in present day. Each episode tells the story of how he develops and hones his particular set of skills. He’s surrounded by a team of highly skilled intelligence operatives and my character is one of those team members, Becca Vlasik. The first season is 10 episodes which were filmed in Toronto last summer and during the fall. It’s a mix of a case-of-the-week format and episodes that focus on on-going storylines.
What can you tell us about Becca?
MGC: She’s an analyst and is at home in the field, which is where she prefers to be, but she’s also great back in the office, analyzing information and strategizing how to accomplish their missions. She’s a person of action – she’s involved in lots of stunts, which is terrific! It’s fun to film and then see how it all comes together on screen. It’s definitely a great part of the job.
Did you have to do any specific training for the role?
MGC: Not really, I’ve done a lot of weapons work for other roles, so there really wasn’t anything special. I am always learning, though, even if I’ve done something before – every stunt has unique choreography and the more you do, the better you become at it.
What exactly is OPCON?
MGC: It’s a high-level intelligence organization…
A shadowy government organization? Off the book and anything goes?
MGC: Exactly – it reports to the highest levels of government. All of the members of the team come from different backgrounds and those backgrounds are revealed over the course of the season.
What do you enjoy most about this character?
MGC: Becca’s intelligence, her grace under pressure, and her ability to transform herself for each mission. She’s also a very solid team player.
When we talked last time, I remember you saying that your dream role would be being some kind of a secret agent-type character, an international women of mystery. Is this character going in that direction?
MGC: It’s getting there, yeah. Becca is certainly dipping her toe in that pond.
Tell me about the rest of the cast.
MGC: The cast is phenomenal, good actors and people, it really was like a family on set – I have so much respect for all of them! They were all great in their roles – it is very well cast. I had worked with Jennifer Marsala before on Lie to Me, it was wonderful to work with a close friend again.
I had the opportunity to meet Clive Standen at San Diego Comic Con this year and my colleague Mynda and I totally went fan-girl on him! So far he seems convincing – the early trailers basically just show him spending a lot of time running.
MGC: Haha, yeah, he definitely stayed in shape while we were shooting! He’s a great guy!
Speaking of fan girling, what has been the most memorable fan interaction that you’ve ever had?
MGC: I’ve had such wonderful interactions with fans! I was just at the Women’s March in LA, I’m in a huge crowd of people and a couple approached me and told me that they loved my work in Lie To Me. In the middle of all that was going on, I wasn’t expecting anyone to notice or approach me. I tend to get a lot of “you look familiar”, although some people recognize me right away. Everyone has been great.
What has been your favorite role so far in your career?
MGC: Whichever one that I’m in the middle of – I love to embrace each new character, the excitement of this career is connecting to the new character and story for each project.
Will you be doing any social media for the show’s premiere?
MGC: Yes, the plan is to do a live tweet of the pilot episode on the 27th and I’ll be participating.