While plenty of our women to watch have had extraordinary powers or talents, our roster of vampires and ghosts would not be complete without the mysterious beauty whose special abilities lie in making her every word an order you just can’t ignore. While we’d gladly follow her lead regardless, it’s sometimes just hotter to take orders from the newest girl of your dreams.
Hailing from Hollywood North in Vancouver, our latest Femme on Fire got her start on hit series such as Andromeda, Smallville, Supernatural and the Stargate franchise. After a tremendous acting job on the Emmy-nominated 9/11 biopic Flight 93, Laura Mennell joined the supernatural mystery series Alphas in the role of Nina Theroux. Described by some as “What (ABC’s) Heroes should have been,” Alphas follows an elite investigative unit of super-powered humans who use their abilities to track those of their kind who commit crimes.
Mennell sat down with us while shooting in Toronto to tell us about where we’re going this season, using her powers and taking on her intense role in Flight 93.
Playboy.com: Tell us about your character, Nina.
Mennell: Nina’s a very intelligent, capable person. She has a bit of a darker past that’s she’s not really interested in going into with people. She has a really strong character and is an asset to her team. Because of her ability, she’s able to manipulate people into whatever she wants them to do. She gets (her team) out of dangerous situations and sources out information that might be difficult to get.
Playboy.com: What’s the coolest thing she’s used her ability for?
Mennell: Obviously there are a lot of fun aspects of her “pushing.” I think everyone can relate to wanting to be able to do certain things. I know I’ve been able to vicariously live through her — drive fancy sports cars every few weeks, that’s fun for sure! But I think that plays into her downside; last season we found out she has a bit of guilt toward an ex-boyfriend’s death. She got into an argument with him and basically told him to go jump off a bridge…I don’t think she knew the strength of her abilities.
Playboy.com: What can we expect this season?
Mennell: I think we’ll be able to delve into our characters this year. Things will become more layered, who we all are, especially Nina. The show really delves into her darker past a lot more. Season two will be really fun for fans because we have a lot of really great guest stars lined up — Lauren Holly, Summer Glau will return, Thomas Howell — it will be great to see.
Playboy.com: If you had the ability to “push,” what would you use it for?
Mennell: To be honest, I think I’d feel guilty having that power each and every day. But I think if I had it for a day I’d use it to get on a plane and take off and travel — crazy things like that.
Playboy.com: You’ve been in a slew of sci-fi and paranormal shows: Smallville, Supernatural, Sanctuary and now Alphas. What draws you to these characters?
Mennell: I’m open to all sorts of shows; I don’t try to stick to one specific genre. In terms of sci-fi, I think one of the best roles out there was Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. I think the sci-fi genre’s pretty limitless and you get to play with a lot of characters — you get to use your imagination a little bit more. Like in Watchmen with Janey Slater I got to play having this radioactive blue boyfriend. It keeps things fresh; I enjoy it.
Playboy.com: Have you heard anything about the Watchmen sequel?
Mennell: I don’t know anything specifically. I keep hearing little rumors about it. It would be exciting!
Playboy.com: Taking part in Flight 93 must have been an emotional decision; what made you say yes?
Mennell: When I first got the call to audition for the role of Elizabeth Wainio, I went through the script and started doing research on the internet that night. Learning about her and reading about her, I felt a more immediate connection to her; she seemed to be this lovely girl that I could relate to or see myself being friends with. I think it was an important film to be part of because it was a wonderful tribute to those who lost their lives on that flight.
Playboy.com: You’ve been a strong activist for animal rights; when did you decide to start speaking out on the topic?
Mennell: I’ve become more vocal about becoming a vegetarian and vegetarianism in general, and speaking out in interviews about factory farming. I think it’s something people should be aware of; it’s important for people to know about these things.
Playboy.com: What’s an ideal night out with the cast?
Mennell: Sometimes I think we spend so much time with each other. [laughs] We love each other, but it’s nice to spend time with your friends outside of the cast. [laughs] But it’s fun to hang out with everybody as well.
Playboy.com: You cook, right?
Mennell: Yes! Recently I’ve been cooking palak paneer; it’s like an East Indian cheese.
Playboy.com: What do you have coming up?
Mennell: I’ve been so involved with filming Alphas that I can’t concentrate on anything else; maybe a vacation after we wrap. [laughs]
Playboy.com: What was your first Playboy?
Mennell: [Laughs] I think you’re pretty much my introduction to the Playboy world!