Transcription provided by Katrina King. Katrina is a bionic writer, except without the bionic parts.
Lindsay Wagner rose to prominence in the 1970s after acclaimed roles on Marcus Welby, MD and The Rockford Files lead to her being cast as Jaime Sommers on The Six Million Dollar Man. Originally written as a one-off character, due to overwhelming positive audience response, Wagner not only returned in a subsequent two-part story, but also starred as Jaime Sommers on the spin-off series The Bionic Woman. Since the series’ cancellation in 1978, Wagner has gone on to co-star with Sylvester Stallone in the film Nighthawks and most recently has appeared in the movies Thicker than Water, Buckaroo: The Movie and Four Extraordinary Women. She has also developed a series of workshops and techniques called “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart”, which help people study their experiences and changing perspectives and how those have affected their lives and happiness. This week, Lindsay appears on Warehouse 13 and Joe talked her via telephone about her new role.
POP CULTURE ZOO: Thank you very much for your time today, I appreciate you being willing to talk to me.
LINDSAY WAGNER: You’re welcome! Yeah!
PCZ: To start off with, what can you tell me about the character you’re playing on Warehouse 13?
LW: Well, I’m playing Dr. Vanessa Calder, and she is the official doctor for the Warehouse, agents, and the Regents. She’s a contemporary of Mrs. Frederic, she’s part of the Warehouse hierarchy.
PCZ: Excellent. And I am part of a vast contingent that is very happy to see you not only back on TV but on a popular show, so that’s really great.
LW: Thank you!
PCZ: Now is this character a character that we may possibly see again?
LW: It’s possible!
PCZ: Were you aware of Warehouse 13 prior to getting the role?
LW: Actually, I wasn’t, but I think that’s probably a good sign in reference to my career, because I didn’t know about the Six Million Dollar Man either!
PCZ: Being a doctor on the show, but also as part of something that’s Warehouse 13, was there some interesting dialogue you had to learn.
LW: No, not yet. I was spared that in the first episode!
PCZ: But if you come back, I bet they’ll get you!
LW: Good point!
PCZ: Over the last few years what else have you been doing?
LW: I’ve been doing workshops and retreats. Kind of interpersonal letting go of old stuff and bringing up more… I’ve been studying holistic health and integrated modalities ever since I was 20. And, it’s really been my passion: human potential and learning how to heal old wounds and perceptions. It’s all based on how to shift our perspective of life and of ourself, and that just starts changing our life without us having to work so hard at it. If we can shift our perspective – but it’s like how do you do that? And that’s what the workshops are about, just kinda sharing with others the things that have helped me the most in my life, and having learned techniques and literally studied them, studied various spiritual things. For me it’s about integrating the body, mind and spirit.
PCZ: Well that’s kind of an interesting parallel to having played the Bionic Woman who is enhanced artificially, and now seeking to do that naturally, that’s excellent!
LW: Yeah, exactly! And that’s something that we worked on, all the time on the show. I was constantly pressuring, sometimes to their chagrin, to push beyond the obvious. It’s going to be very interesting to me, today’s adults who were that generation’s kids and maybe you’re one of them, I don’t know what your age is?
PCZ: Yes, I am…
LW: Okay! I’m almost excited that [The Bionic Woman] been off for a long time and people get to watch it again, because as an adult you see the stuff we put in the show intentionally, other than the fun and the bionics and all that stuff. And one of the reasons there was so much more humor in my show as the original show, is because I said I don’t wanna do a show about a powerful woman – y’know a man in a skirt, basically, a strong guy bopping everybody out and winning. We worked really hard to write stories and develop characters, even within the bad guys.
The human condition – everybody is human, and we tried to write that! I’m just anxious to see now, what the adults today see in the show. If they notice, consciously, a lot of the things that we actually put in there. As far as a very different consciousness or way of seeing the world. We showed the journey or the problem of the so-called bad guy. We showed that they were a human person with their own agenda and it wasn’t wanting to do something bad to us. It was them having their own issues and us having to kind of stop the way they’re dealing it. A different way of looking at adversities.
There was a fair amount of that type of thinking, as much as we could put into it, in the show then. You didn’t do stories about child abuse or domestic violence or revisionist history or all the things I did in my movies, at that time. It’s common place now, people don’t think anything about it! Y’know, everything is being done on TV. But then, you didn’t do that! The strength of The Bionic Woman gave me a lot of power to go in and do things that people couldn’t do before on TV. Plus, it was my passion! That was my whole thing, my whole life I’ve studied human potential and body, mind, spirit connection, and all those kinds of things. That’s been my real passion, even more so than acting, but acting is what I did, so that’s where I put it. As time went on, for me it was a natural transition to start doing more direct work with people because I eventually ended up becoming a practitioner in several modalities and then from private practice I started doing group work. It’s just kind of been an evolution, and now I’m doing these workshops and retreats and it’s really cool!
PCZ: A few months ago, I also interviewed Erin Gray who was on Buck Rogers back in the ’70s. The thing that I noticed about both The Bionic Woman and Buck Rogers was that the main female characters were, like you said, they weren’t just men in skirts. They were tough, but they were vulnerable and they were good-hearted. It seems like there’s been a period of time in TV where, lately a lot of the strong women had to be strong by being not really nice. So it’s kind of nice to see that when you guys were doing your shows, and to see that coming back now with things like Warehouse 13.
LW: Right, right. Erin is someone who had a sensibility also. I think as actors and performers, we have the opportunity, and a lot of people don’t recognize it as that, or take advantage of that, to bring whatever consciousness we have to the character. Certainly in an ongoing series. It’s a little different if you’re doing a movie where it’s very specifically constructed – if you’re playing this weirdo, you’ve gotta play the weirdo. Except that [with an ongoing series], nobody’s a weirdo 24-7, so you have the time to develop a whole person. And Erin is, in her own life, very committed to inner peace and personal growth. She’s a Tai Chi teacher, so, she has those sensibilities already. It’s interesting that you bring up Erin, because she’s someone I happened to know who’s very into that. And so she, I’m sure, reflected that in her work, as I did and tried to do in mine.
PCZ: I have to ask, having grown up with you and Lee Majors on the TV – any talk or any possibilities of another Six Million Dollar Man / Bionic Woman movie?
LW: No, not yet. Richard Anderson is the one who was responsible for getting the other [TV Movies] made and helped produce those. And he’s been trying to do others since then, but they keep thinking they want to do a feature film about it, and then they had all the rights issues so nobody could really do anything with it, because they were having the rights battle. That’s why the series was off, as well. So you never know what’s coming up now, because they finally have gotten the rights issues worked out, and the series is going to be able to go on again. This summer they will be releasing the DVDs, finally. That whole problem was with the rights to the Cyborg book which all this was based on. If they didn’t have the rights to the book, they couldn’t show the movies. So anyway, yeah, that might be coming back soon.
PCZ: Is this appearance on Warehouse 13 going to lead to us being able to see you some more on TV in the future?
LW: Well, we’ll have to wait and see, I don’t know!
PCZ: Well, that’s all I have for you. Again, I thank you very much for your time and I’m looking forward to seeing you on Warehouse 13!
LW: Thank you so much!