Lexa Doig is a Canadian model turned actress who has been known for starring roles in Andromeda, Jason X and even the popular Video and Arcade Top 10. In her latest role portraying Talia Al Ghul in Arrow, CGMagazine sat down to talk to her about her career, her love of video games and portraying the famous DC character
CGMagazine: Tell us a little bit about how you got your career started?
Lexa Doig: Well it’s funny because I always wanted to be an actor since I was very small. And this the funny thing — this is a very relevant conversation that’s happening in my industry right now, in terms of representation — because as a little beige, half-Filipino girl growing up, I didn’t see faces that looked like mine on TV. So… I used to watch Nia Peeples Dance Party religiously because she looked like someone who could’ve been a member of my family. But otherwise I didn’t see faces that looked like mine or that I could relate to in any way when I watched television so it was one of those funny things that growing up, it wasn’t something I thought I could do until I was in my teens and started modelling.
And I started doing commercials and things like that, and that’s when there’s a crossover between actors and models filming commercials because both sets of people generally tend to audition for them. And I had made some friends with other actors that were like “you don’t need to do the modelling thing, I’ll introduce you to my agent.” And I was like, “Wow! I can actually do this.” Because I had always done school plays, and I was in the theatre program in high school I just didn’t think it was something I would be able to pursue professionally. And then, through friends I met doing a commercial I got my first talent agent and haven’t really looked back since; even at times when I probably should have.
CGM: As you were getting into the industry, who were some of your biggest influences?
Doig: It’s funny, I was asked this question the other day and I honestly don’t know. You know, anybody and everybody was. The funny thing is, there are influences from people that you work with directly; I remember working with Kate Milligan, I was well into being a professional actor at that point, but I was so impressed with how she controlled her environment. Meryl Streep is obviously the gold standard, but the funny thing is, when you’re watching performances in film at that level, everybody has something to contribute. There’s value in all of it.
CGM: Now, you were on Video and Arcade Top 10, tell us a little about that how was that experience?
Doig: Are you Canadian?
CGM: Funny story, I was actually on an episode.
Doig: SHUT UP! Do you remember who the hosts were when you were on it?
CGM: I’m pretty sure it was Nicholas Picholas
Lexa: Because when I was on it Liza Fromer and Gord Woolvett were the two main hosts, and Nicholas Picholas and I were music and entertainment; so we were the cutaways. And it was hilarious because I don’t think once ever, because, at the speed in which these were done, I don’t think we ever, maybe Liza and Gord did a little bit; nobody actually really interacted with these poor contestants. So there were these kids that are coming on the show that literally get shoved on, and then we have to read off a teleprompter as fast as we possibly can, and then YAY this person won! And you see this stunned kid going “…uh..ok?” And then it’s like, “Ok thanks, bye!”
CGM: Did you have fun at least on the show?
Doig: I did! It was actually my first on-camera gig being a host. I mean, it’s not rocket science, but learning the skill of actually just calming down and being comfortable in front of the camera was a really great first step. And we churned them out, we did like five a day, but we’d only do it like one day a month in a studio in Hamilton. But it was a good experience! I’m still friends with Gord Woolvett to this day, and I’m Twitter friends with Liza and Nick.
And a small piece of trivia. Do you know why Nicholas Picholas calls himself Picholas?
CGM: No I don’t.
Doig: His real name is, and I’m not kidding, Schimmelpenninck Van Deroy. I’ll never forget it, it’s this many years later and I still know his last name is Schimmelpenninck Van Deroy. There are few people I can share that piece of trivia with who will truly appreciate it.
CGM: Were you ever a big gamer then? Is that what drew you toward the show?
Doig: I’m a PC gamer, but I just auditioned for the show. That was when I was still modelling and you throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. But in terms of gaming, when I was younger I used to play Nintendo; I used to play Street Fighter, I was always Chun-Li.
CGM: I’m always Chun-Li too, she’s the best.
Doig: But when I got older, I got more into the D&D style games like Eye of the Beholder and then…I’ve never played Skyrim, but what was the other one I played that had Melicamp the Chicken?
CGM: Baldur’s Gate?
Doig: Yeah! Do you remember the one that had the berserker who had a Miniature Giant Space Hamster named Boo? It was brilliant! It’s funny because I did become a Skyrim widow for a time, my husband really embraced Skyrim, to the point that I was kind of concerned. But I would watch him play it and I do love the humour that would periodically show up in those games, like the Wabbajack, I was like “this is my favourite weapon ever!” But the controls are a little…I think I’m a little too old pick up the controls, I got them down on a PC and then, I don’t know, I just stopped playing and then games advanced so quickly that I’m like “Ok, I missed that bandwagon, I’ll watch other people play them.”
CGM: So let’s talk a little bit about Arrow. What’s it like playing Talia Al’Ghul?
Doig: Well she’s an important character in the DC Universe, but I’m not sure how integral she is in the Arrow universe yet. The way it’s been set up she trained Green Arrow. She was like the final step of training that Oliver had before he went back to Starling City. She’s a lot of the reason he went back. It’s interesting because I think she’s the final step in the journey, she’s the final piece of the puzzle to help him differentiate himself from this alter-ego that he has. But I don’t really know how important she is yet, because we’ve only seen her in flashbacks.
CGM: Talia’s character is usually portrayed similarly in her interpretations, what do you feel you bring that is unique to you?
Doig: Probably sarcasm, because I’m a snarky bitch. I did a certain amount of research, and I watched as much as I could of previous episodes that feature the Al Ghul family, and it’s stylized in a sense because they’re part of the world but they’re not of the world. There’s a bit of a supernatural element with the Lazarus Pits and the League of Assassins, and they operate on the periphery. I felt it would be far more interesting that the difference with Talia is that she’s of the world. Yes, she can operate on the periphery, that’s where she was born and raised and trained, but she can also put on a business suit and attend a meeting; I thought that would be interesting because that’s kind of what Oliver does. So that was my thought process in creating Talia so that her language and her manner and her cadences are a little more modern, as opposed to that Shakespearean style that you saw with the Al Ghul family.
CGM: My final question is, what’s next for you? Any future projects?
Doig: I do believe I’m going in for another episode of Arrow, and then hopefully a second season of The Arrangement which is the show that I’m doing for E. That’s just kind of it, that and figuring out if my son is going to make my life joyful by going to school on an island.