Los Angeles-based actress Maggie Q has quite literally fought her way through Hollywood in action-packed films like Mission: Impossible III, The Divergent Series and most recently, The Protégé. Starring alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton, Q’s role of Anna in The Protégé is strong, murderous and virtuous. “We establish right away that within the realm of existence, Anna does have these moral and ethical guidelines that she sort of lives by,” Q says of her character, whose day job is owning a book store but by night, seeks justice as an assassin. “As human beings, we can justify anything. Whether it’s right or wrong, any human being could justify whatever they want,” Q decides, adding, “I think Anna feels justified in that these are people that do not make the world a better place. In fact, they make the world a terrible place by their lies and presence.”
The film is primarily set in Vietnam, where Q’s mother is from and where her parents met during the Vietnam War. Filming was slated to start in March 2020 but because of the pandemic, it wasn’t safe for the actors to travel. Director Martin Campbell and the film’s crew traveled to Vietnam and were able to shoot but Q admits she was disappointed not to be able to go. “It was a bummer because one of the things that excited me most was taking a film like this–with a huge director like Martin Campbell and my co-stars–back to my mom’s home. Unfortunately we couldn’t do that but on the screen we’re able to show it in a way that we wanted and really feature Southeast Asia in a different way that’s not a war movie,” she says.
The Protégé might not be a war movie but there are many battles throughout–both physically and emotionally. Q and co-star Michael Keaton offer dynamic performances showcasing a tumultuous relationship that at first glance might not seem totally relatable but is actually very textured and rooted in realism. “Their relationship is such a dance. It is like two boxers in a ring,” Q says of the two characters. “Richard Wenk, the writer of the film, is such a brilliant writer and he wrote relationships that I haven’t seen in a very long time on film.” While Q credits Wenk’s writing, she says that Keaton made it such a joy to create something so captivating and complex. “You run into a myriad of things when you’re in this business. But, it is so great when you’re able to connect with an actor who is so generous of spirit, who is so collaborative, who doesn’t have any ego around what’s happening for himself, but has a lot of motivation for what’s happening for the film in its entirety,” she says of Keaton.
With The Protégé in theaters now, Maggie Q laughs at the juxtaposition between the action thriller film and her upcoming television role in the dark comedy, Pivoting. “I think it is hysterical that these two polar opposite things are coming out in one year,” she says. “I laughed so hard making Pivoting. My co-stars Ginnifer Goodwin and Eliza Coupe are so brilliantly funny. When we shot the pilot, I would go home and be like, did I even work today? All I did was laugh and my body doesn’t hurt. I felt like I didn’t earn my paycheck.” Pivoting shines a light on difficult moments in life–such as death–and brings humor to them. “There’s something so real about funny moments being born out of sadness. Who doesn’t laugh and cry in the same moment?” From blood and sweat to laughter and tears, Maggie Q has us hooked.