It was 1983 when Jane Badler first appeared in V: The Miniseries.
Playing the role of commander Diana, a chief villainess in the franchise, has brought her international glory. Now with the return of the V saga, she is enjoying attention from all over the world.
“It’s a crazy internet thing happening for me. I’ve got an extraordinary amount of energy in the internet, Facebook wise and IMDb. Something’s happening in the atmosphere!” she tells TV Tonight.
“People all over the world have sent beautiful messages mostly via my Facebook.”
Badler had already appeared in soaps One Life to Live and The Doctors, including playing the love interest of a much-younger Alec Baldwin, when she got the call for V.
“I was in my 20s, I’d gone to New York, I’d done theatre off-Broadway and a bit of touring, and then soap operas. Then I went to LA to audition for V and ended up moving there to do that and staying in LA,” she says.
“It was very exciting because I was in Daytime and everyone thinks ‘Wouldn’t it be great to make the transition to Nighttime?’ I read the script and it was a 2hr miniseries and I had literally 5 scenes in it.
“I thought ‘This isn’t a very big role, it will be no big deal.'”
How wrong that turned out to be. Badler’s performance has become the most-remembered of all the show’s characters.
“It was so exciting because it was big budget and there were huge spaceships on the Warner Bros. Lot. It was everything you dream of. And then they ended up doing a second series, and the surprise was it was one of the most-watched miniseries of all time all over the world. That’s what took me by surprise, the impact that it had,” she says.
“In the second miniseries my role was much bigger and it just took off.”
With its Nazi regime parallels, rodent-eating aliens, big hair and ’80s outfits, the series went on to become a camp classic. But Badler says that at the time, it was a much more serious -and even terrifying- affair.
“You have to remember that in the 80s the acting style was slightly different. If you look at all the series at the time, like Falcon Crest and Dallas, the acting style was different. Now it’s incredibly naturalistic.
“And or it’s time V was revolutionary. Now we look at it and think ‘Oh my God.’ But at those time nobody was doing those sort of special effects for television. It was so grand,” she says.
Badler describes writer / director Kenneth Johnson as having an amazing vision.
“He was looking at things socially, politically, connecting all the dots. It was really good television for its time, kind of like The Sopranos was in its time.”
As the franchise developed into a sequel then a 13 episode series, Badler says cast became unhappy with its shifts into soap opera in space -which occurred without Johnson on board.
Nineteen years ago Badler came to Australia to film the series reboot of Mission Impossible, but met her partner and never looked back.
Now living in Melbourne, Badler has turned her focus to music. Her latest project includes collaboration with renowned jazz musician Paul Grabowsky.
“I’ve got my music thing which is all happening, but as far as the acting it’s been really difficult to get jobs in this country. So somehow it doesn’t kind of translate in Australia. Maybe I need to move to New York or something.
“But it’s been an incredible journey. I can’t tell you how interesting it’s all been on a creative front, because I really am someone who can never stop creating. I think of myself as an artist. I’ve moved into composing, writing and recording now. It’s where I have more opportunities.
Badler has given the new version the stamp of approval.
“I really like it. It’s quite different. Obviously you can see the influences of other series, like Lost. It’s so much more contemporary, obviously, though they have taken so many of the original ideas that you can see all through it. But it’s definitely moved into this new millennium -in the acting style, the terrorist cells they’ve brought it into.
“It’s quite wonderful, I think they’ve put a lot of thought into it. I’m not just saying it, I’m a big fan of it.
“This one is more about terrorism and really not knowing who your lover is, your neighbour, that anyone could be deceiving you,” she says.
“Americans love to descend things into slight sentimentality. That’s very much the American way, in their movies, the way they bring in the music. And there was slightly a bit of that when the spaceships arrived, with the faces and the music, but then as I watched the series I didn’t see much more of that.”
She has also been in talks with V producer Scott Peters about the possibility of a guest appearance in the current series.
“He mentioned that I would be the one character that they could bring back, and it was something they were thinking about. So really it’s just a waiting game.
“He said he wants it to be organic, he doesn’t just want to bring me on like a gimmick.
“I hope it lasts, but you just never know…”
V premieres 8:30pm Sunday on Nine.