With stunning looks and an abundance of talent, actress Karen Cliché (pronounced Kleesh) is making quite a name for herself in Hollywood. She will soon be seen starring in the highly anticipated SciFi Channel series, “Flash Gordon” as new character, Baylin, a bounty hunter from the planet Mongo. The action adventure series is a modern-day retelling of the classic comic.
Karen is French Canadian and was born in Sept-Iles, Quebec, Canada. Having a father in the army, she moved quite a bit growing up, and therefore became fluent in English. Throughout high school Karen took drama classes and performed in many stage productions. She then traveled the world as a model before turning to acting professionally.
She recently starred in the TV series “Adventure Inc.” as Mackenzie Previn alongside Michael Biehn. Right after that she landed a spot in the cast of “Mutant X,” a well-known action series where she played Lexa Pierce. Like the other members of “Mutant X,” she was unwillingly subjected to genetic tampering which allowed her to manipulate light in mysterious ways.
Her other TV series’ include “Vampire High” and IFC’s “The Business.” Karen recently guest starred on “The Dresden Files” and Court TV’s “Til Death Do Us Part.”
Karen has appeared in movies such as the fast-paced action thriller “Steal” as Alex, one of four young adrenaline junkie bank robbers. She’s also starred in the indie comedy “Summer” as Stephanie LeDuc, a young girl just graduated from University trying to enjoy one last summer of adolescence. One of her most memorable movie roles was in Lifetime’s “I Do But I Don’t” starring alongside Dean Cain and Denise Richards as Darla, the psychotic bride.
Karen was recently seen in the swashbuckling series “Young Blades” which was seen on PAX in the U.S. and City TV in Canada. The show was set in 17th century France and Karen portrayed a young woman named Jacqueline who disguises herself as a man to join the Musketeers to seek revenge for her brother’s death.
A beautiful woman who has earned the respect of fans all over, Karen is devoted to her roles as strong intelligent women and hopes to keep providing inspiration to young women.
Karen is committed to trying to use her position to make people more aware of the true tragedies that exist in the world. One of Karen’s passions is the rights of women and children in third world countries. She supports many wonderful charities, one of which is World Vision through which she sponsors two young girls in Asia.
We hope you enjoy this enchanting artist as she chats with our very own Linda Craddock in this exciting and fun interview about her role as Baylin in the new “Flash Gordon.”
Linda Craddock (SoSF): How was this project presented to you, audition or something that the producers felt you were a good fit like they just called you and said â€œhey Karen, we got this great part?
Karen Cliché (KC): Well actually I remember hearing about it a few months ago and before the audition process, one of the writers, James Thorpe, he’s one of the head writers on the show and he’s written on a couple, actually about three series that I’ve done prior to this. And so I heard through the grapevine he told me heâ€™d put in a good word for me and he suggested my name for the role â€œBaylinâ€ and then a few months later comes along and then my agent presents â€“ I actually auditioned for â€œDaleâ€, the first thing I auditioned for and as soon as the producers and everyone saw my audition tape they said “no, no, no, she’s â€œBaylinâ€ for sure so I sent in another tape for â€œBaylinâ€ and that was it. And flew up to Vancouver for two days. (Laughter)
KC: Yeah, so it was kind of quick. The lead up to it was a little while but as soon as the ball started rolling it just happened really quickly.
SoSF: Great, that’s cool!
KC: It is cool, yeah!
SoSF: Tell us about the concept of the new Flash Gordon and how this series differs from previous series and comics?
KC: Well, basically. The show that weâ€™re doing is a more modernized version, more hip version of what the film was and the comic strip. Thereâ€™s a couple of new characters, mine being one of them. It just has a more of a younger feel to it, very witty instead of playing the campiness the film had in 1980’s we do a lot more witty, more kind of silly humor sometimes and thereâ€™s also the drama. I think it has more of a â€œSmallvilleâ€ feel to it than the other, more sci-fi rocket ship oriented stuff from the past. I think itâ€™s much more acceptable across the board for a different audience.
SoSF: How many episodes have you filmed thus far and what aspects of â€œBaylinâ€ do you want to explore and really bring to life?
KC: What are we on right now? Weâ€™re just finishing up episode 10, so we have about 12 more to go and what I found really interesting about â€œBaylinâ€ is that she first shows up at the end of the pilot and its like â€˜BAM!â€™ here she is in this most extreme version of who she is, this very tough brush and assertive and very confident….and what the following episodes do with her is you start to learn a little bit, I mean, it happens very slowly. You start to learn a little more about her life and why she became the way she is and why she is so unapologetic for her confidence and her, just her sense of self. She just has this confidence and independence that happened, not because she wanted to be that way or sheâ€™s forcing it, but because she really had no choice in her life. She has been alone for a long, long time and sheâ€™s had to survive and be on her one and have to completely depend on herself her whole life so sheâ€™s a bounty hunter on Mongo, she works for â€œMingâ€ so she had to do a lot of things she didnâ€™t necessarily feel comfortable with all her life, but she did it to survive. So the episodes, each is a little of something you learn in each episode and especially, I think it was either episode 8 or 9, you really find a big chunk of her life and you actually see a really vulnerable part to â€œBaylinâ€ and you really understand why she is the way she is so thatâ€™s really interesting its kind of like with some characters with the build up you are introduced to the character and then it starts to, the layers start to build up ward but with â€œBaylinâ€, she comes in as this strong force and then thereâ€™s room for the unraveling, of finding why and how did she get there as opposed to building her strengths throughout this series. I find that really interesting to play as an actor as well. I consider doing it the opposite way! She maintains her strength throughout the show but you kind of dig deeper as the show continues which I find really interesting.
SoSF: Thatâ€™s a really interesting concept because it seems to be the trend of sci-fi of late. Strong….
KC: Yes! I find a lot of the characters that I play its kind of my take on it and I play a lot of strong female characters and theyâ€™re always introduced in a very kind of brash way. When I played â€œLexaâ€ on â€œMutant Xâ€, I mean she was not a very welcomed character (laughter) at first and then people warm up to her because you start to understand that, especially with â€œLexaâ€ was such a put on, more or less a put on, but with â€œBaylinâ€, she really is what she is, and I keep saying she doesnâ€™t apologize for it and its not a put on, sheâ€™s just is strong and confident but with everybody, thereâ€™s a history there, a vulnerability that we donâ€™t like to show, so thatâ€™s the case with her.
SoSF: Well, as you mentioned, â€œBaylinâ€ is new to this incarnation of â€œFlash Gordonâ€. Will the characters â€œDr. Zarkovâ€ and â€œMingâ€ conform to what weâ€™ve come to expect?
KC: Well, because theyâ€™re different actors playing them and because the writing is a little different and the show itâ€™s self is a little bit different there will be, I mean their personalities will be very loyal to what theyâ€™ve been established throughout the years, but every actor going to have a different take on theyâ€™re representing their character and whether or not it fits into the new stories. Jody Racicot who plays â€œZarkovâ€ is doing a wonderful, just wonderful job and John Ralston who plays â€œMingâ€ is doing absolutely fantastic and his take on â€œMingâ€ is much more the modern, charming, and deceitful character, instead of playing the â€œI AM THE!â€ you know that whole typical version of the bad guy because heâ€™s a good looking man and heâ€™s quite charming and he has that sly smile and I think that was such a great choice for â€œMingâ€ to be able to have someone thatâ€™ well, you want to like him but you hate him and its just really interesting. Everybodyâ€™s character has this quite multidimensional and I love that.
SoSF: And now you are a part of a series that teams up with two other lead characters whose mission is to save the universe, how neat is that?
KC: What a big burden to carry .(lots of laughter) I was saying just the other day! I think it was â€œBaylinâ€, her interesting in teaming up with â€œFlashâ€, and â€œDaleâ€ and â€œZarkovâ€. Itâ€™s not a very self interested, I mean its not that she doesnâ€™t care about the mission, but I think the reason, the main reason why she latched on to this team, that is â€œZarkovâ€, â€œFlashâ€ and â€œDaleâ€, is because she felt welcomed into this family unit, this family environment, this team, where as sheâ€™s been on her own for so long. Sheâ€™s actually quite shocked when she feels so welcomed and so involved in this family that they have and so she embraced that right away and she was â€œwell why would I go back to Mongo, I donâ€™t have anything on Mongo anywayâ€ so she just kind of this nomad, this outsider and so she does feel like she now has a little bit of a family and has learned to love these people in her own way and wants to help â€œFlashâ€ because she believes in his mission and she understands what it feels like to long for what â€œFlashâ€ is longing for his dad. She lost her parents when she was very young so thereâ€™s something that she can relate to as well, so the whole combination of everything she feels that she has her tribe once again after all these years.
SoSF: â€œFlash Gordonâ€ is yet another series you have worked under the direction of T.J. Scott for at least 2 episodes. Talk about what draws you to a T.J. Scott project?
KC: (laughter) Well, T.J. is just unbelievable. What he brings to a show is the extreme cool factor, you know (laughter), weâ€™re just shooting our scenes and he playing this cool music as weâ€™re running through the hills, running through the forest. Itâ€™s just so cool. Itâ€™s got this music video feel to it when youâ€™re shooting with T.J. He really has a great eye and a great style that does so well in sci-fi and so well for action shows and film. Heâ€™s just absolutely fantastic. Heâ€™s got a great energy and we just loved every second and weâ€™re just begging for him to come back. He seems to be pretty busy. Heâ€™s got really, really big things in the works so (sorrow) weâ€™re really sad that he might not come back. Weâ€™re going to try, weâ€™re going to beg.
SoSF: Hopefully he will.
KC: I know (sad face)
SoSF: How would you rate the action and adventure in the series?
KC: Every episode is based on an adventure. For every episode youâ€™re going to have the adventure that is for sure. Some are more action oriented than others. Some are more character driven and story driven and more dramatic but you definitely always have the â€œMongoâ€, Earth thing, you always have, weâ€™re always going through a rift, showing up on â€œMongoâ€. There are always bad guys that weâ€™re being chased by or that weâ€™re chasing. We always end up dressing up like some other tribe on â€œMongoâ€ which leads to some pretty hilarious moments and some very sexy moments because thereâ€™s some pretty sexy tribes so adventure is always, always there and I think people will really love that. Youâ€™re always going to have â€œMongoâ€ and if anything, we probably spend more time on â€œMongoâ€ then we spend on Earth, so thatâ€™s a really cool aspect to it and the action, which is my, I just love. Anytime thereâ€™s a fight I just get really excited because I really love doing that. So, of course, there are some episodes where there is more fight and action, more physical than others, but I always try to nudge the writers to give me more fights. I just love it; itâ€™s a great way to get out your frustrations. (laughter)
SoSF: Iâ€™m sure! (laughter) â€œDale Ardenâ€ and â€œFlash Gordonâ€ used to be an item in past series? How much can you tell us about that aspect of the new show?
KC: Well, right now the situationâ€™s a little different with â€œDaleâ€ and â€œFlashâ€. They are no longer an item. Sheâ€™s now engaged to somebody else, who she loves dearly but, I donâ€™t know I think the part that everyone can relate to is, well, most of us will be able to relate to in the show is you know, youâ€™re with somebody else and you run into that old flame who was your first love or it was your long time love and you not supposed to have feelings for them anymore, but you do and the other person does, but you canâ€™t speak of it and thereâ€™s just that tension thatâ€™s between the two of them that she canâ€™t be jealous, but she is but she canâ€™t show that she is jealous and so its this whole weird dynamic where theyâ€™re both these total weirdoes with each other (lots of laughter) because theyâ€™re so awkward because they donâ€™t feel entitled to their feelings and they are there. So thatâ€™s really fun to have, to play with and of course thereâ€™s the fiancÃ© who feels it, and heâ€™s like â€œwhatâ€™s going on between you twoâ€ and he tries to put up the bravado and not show that heâ€™s jealous so thereâ€™s this whole little crazy, weird awkwardness all the time. Who knows if theyâ€™ll get back together, we donâ€™t know that yet but Iâ€™m sure there will be some people that will be rooting for it.
SoSF: What in this new take on the show do you think will draw the die hard â€œFlash Gordonâ€ fans to the series?
KC: Well, I definitely think that because itâ€™s a modern version of it and itâ€™s tweaked a little bit to represent the times that weâ€™re living in right now. The last movie was made 25 years ago 27 years ago, so things have changed, times have changed, but because you still have the character that were all there, in the past, you have â€œMingâ€, â€œZarkovâ€, â€œRankolâ€, everybody and for people who are really familiar with those characters will love to see this new take on these characters that they love. I thing that everybody tried to stay loyal to the real personalities of each character, but with a little bit of a modern twist. There may not be many space ships and that whole vibe to it, but you do have a lot of stuff on â€œMongoâ€ and definitely the science fiction fans will just eat it up when weâ€™re on another plant and the aliens with different monsters and creatures and riff technology and all this stuff so I think people who want the Earth and relationship and the more character stuff will love that and the sci-fi fans will just love that weâ€™re on a planet most of the time. Thereâ€™s definitely going to be a lot of appeal in that way as well. I think itâ€™s great. I think thereâ€™s a lot of potential for different age groups and different personalities and people who will be watching the show and enjoying it for different reasons.
SoSF: What do you find has been the most challenging part of filming thus far for you?
KC: I think itâ€™s when I first started Iâ€™m going â€œhow do I play an alien. (laughter) How do I, and where do I find something to draw fromâ€. I remember feeling the same way when I was playing mutants or when I was playing a vampire. Just all these things you go through as an actor. I want to make her accessible, I want to make her human and not so that humans watching the show can relate to her and understand her so the really subtle differences, I wanted to make, I didnâ€™t want to, obviously there was nothing prosthetic ally done to my face or my body or anything, so she looks human, so differences in my behavior had to be very subtle, so we just chose them as character choices. She doesnâ€™t have the same tact that humans do. She doesnâ€™t understand the same mannerisms, the same political correctness that human beings have which is kind of funny, the funny things that â€œBaylinâ€ does. Itâ€™s like â€œoh my God, what did she just say, what did she just doâ€. Sometimes that was challenging at the beginning, how far do I take this alien business or how do I play this. In the end I just chose to make her look and act human but with little subtle things in the way that she speaks. The dialogue is a little bit, she doesnâ€™t use any â€œcanâ€™tâ€ or â€œgonnaâ€ or â€œwannaâ€. She doesnâ€™t speak like that at all She speaks what in our day and age to be very eloquently and brash and very specific. There are no abbreviations. So that, as an actor, you want to say â€œum, umâ€ in your, you want to be able to do those things, but you canâ€™t because you have to stay true to your character. So that was a bit challenging but now Iâ€™m getting used to the dialogue and itsâ€™ coming out much easier. Actually in my real life, I am speaking a little better (lots of laughter). Iâ€™m like â€œI do not understandâ€ robotic (lots of laughter), so that was a bit of a challenge. The two are starting to mend together. I can only imaging season 2 â€œI will be speaking to you like thisâ€ (lots of laughter).
SoSF: â€œHello Karen is that you?â€ (laughter) Karen, thank you fso much for taking the time for the interview
KC: No problem, it was good talking to you.
SoSF: And, we all look forward to the premiere of â€œFlash Gordonâ€.
KC: Oh, I hope you enjoy it.
SoSF: I know I really canâ€™t wait.
KC: OK, it has been a real pleasure talking with you Linda, bye bye.