Melissa George is fortunate to like Europe and physical activity, given the demands of her latest part.
She also doesn’t mind getting “shot,” which happens to her not once, but twice in the opening moments of “Hunted.” The action series premieres Friday (Oct. 19) on Cinemax, which is aiming for a successor to its successful “Strike Back,” recently renewed for Season 4. The new show’s elements were big lures for Australia-born model turned actress George, who co-starred on “Alias” for a time and also did stints on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “In Treatment.”
Arguably, though, her biggest calling has been the running-jumping-punching-kicking movie genre … confirmed lately by such pay-cable staples as “Triangle” and “A Lonely Place to Die.” They’ve proven to be good warm-ups for her new role as Sam Hunter, a covert espionage agent seeking those who tried to kill her before they can succeed.
Such a scenario can have its price. “I have a very bad left hip,” George tells Zap2it of the results of her “Hunted” work in a call from Corsica. “If you want to rotate your leg to rock-climb or whatever, that’s definitely not very good at all. And [I hurt] my right hand, but everything else feels great.
“You dream of the day when you can have a great character piece that encompasses all the things you’ve done in your career, put into one role, and I feel that’s Sam Hunter,” adds George, who applauds “Hunted” writer-producer Frank Spotnitz for creating the part.
“I loved ‘The X-Files’ (to which Spotnitz also was central) — it was mind-blowing, it was so clever — and when I first met him in L.A., I’d never tried to impress somebody so much. I tried to show him I could speak Spanish and Portuguese, I could do a British accent, I could do an American accent … he laughs about it now. The showrunner is the most important person for me, and if you don’t have respect for each other, I think you can see that in the show.”
Having also done such comedies as “Swinging With the Finkels,” George deems it “weird” to be cast as an action heroine so much of the time. “It’s hard to be judgmental about yourself. Different fans watch different parts of your career, but the consistency for me is definitely in playing troubled women in situations they have to fight to get out of.
“When people meet me, I”m always dressed in pinnacle skirts and heels, and my nails are always done. And I’m always very quiet and generous and lovely and sweet … so why I get these parts has baffled me and my family and my friends. I just don’t know why.”
George played it a bit more docile last year in the A&E miniseries “Stephen King’s Bag of Bones,” which she explains she did “to work with Pierce Brosnan and a great director (frequent King-story adapter Mick Garris). Sometimes you take parts for that, and other times, you take it for the script. It’s amazing: The ones that change your career are the ones that pay no money and where you ask yourself, ‘If I get this, would it make a difference to me personally?'”
Also being made for England’s BBC One network, “Hunted” could become the signature project for George, who allows she hasn’t had “that one thing that people associate you with. In New York and Paris, people relate me to ‘In Treatment’ (for which George earned a Golden Globe Award nomination), but I haven’t had that one key role. And in a way, that makes me lucky, because I can constantly keep trying new things.”