Lucy Liu is back on television after years of starring in big budget movies. Cashmere Mafia may be aimed at a female audience, but Liu’s involvement gives it universal appeal. She leads a group of characters, all successful businesswomen supporting each other through work and love issues. The successful mogul probably knows a thing or two about that subject in real life.
CraveOnline: How does this group of girls compare to the Charlie’s Angels?
Lucy Liu: In some ways it’s very similar because you get along with the girls so much and it’s showing camaraderie as opposed to things that happened on Ally McBeal when there was more opposition at play. But it’s different because there’s no action involved in it at all. There’s no green screen so you really have a definitive storyline as well as there so there’s a history involved that’s more realistically.
CraveOnline: What differences have you noticed between doing this series and Ally McBeal?
Lucy Liu: Well, the last one, I didn’t start from the beginning. I kind of came in as a guest star and kept going from that point on. So I’ve never been to a Television Critics Association press tour, I’ve never done any of this press beforehand and never had the opportunity to develop a character with somebody in [the] beginning.
CraveOnline: Is the dialogue looser on Cashmere Mafia than when you have to stick to every syllable David E. Kelley wrote?
Lucy Liu: Yeah, I have a little more say in it but David’s work is so different. That was a very specific character too so I wouldn’t want to [improvise]. It’s just so different; you can’t really compare the two.
CraveOnline: How about going back to TV after years of film work?
Lucy Liu: TV is really fast. TV moves quickly. You make small movies within eight days and then it’s out. And also, in some ways it’s ephemeral because you’ve done something and you move onto the next thing, yet people are following it. Also, television to me has always been more intimate because you’re in somebody’s living room. They’re eating, they’re in their underwear, they’re with their kids, they’re Tivoing you. Whatever it is, you’re always very close to them. I remember I was doing a movie in Las Vegas, it was earlier on in my career, there was a whole bunch of movie stars and we stopped in this little tiny souvenir store in the middle of nowhere. I went up to pay for whatever it is that I bought and they had bought some things too, and she recognized my character from Ally McBeal but didn’t recognize any of them because maybe she doesn’t get out as often but their television was literally right there by the cash register as well. So that always reminded me of how the impact of television is universal. It’s global. It’s more accessible.
CraveOnline: Will the show address being an Asian woman specifically in the work place?
Lucy Liu: I don’t think so. I think it’s just going to reflect me as an Asian woman as a person. I don’t know that it’s going to be particularly racial. I don’t know what’s going to happen but that’s another thing. I’ve decided to choose roles that reflect women now, like people. Whether you’re African American, you’re Asian, you’re Indian American, it’s just being that person and letting other children see that because when I was growing up, they didn’t have that. It was Bewitched and Get Smart and all those things but not anyone that I could ever relate to. I think it’s good to see somebody who’s just being themselves.
CraveOnline: How does this workplace on the show compare to the Hollywood workplace?
Lucy Liu: Well, the workplace on the show is corporate and I think that in Hollywood, it’s an entertainment field. It’s a vision but it’s really a business because it’s based on numbers. It’s based on generating money and what works and what doesn’t work. Sometimes you think, "Why would they make this show?" or "Why would they make the movie at all?" It’s because of money. I think these women are still on their way up in the corporate world and they’re pushing their way forward because they want to earn as much as men do. I think that’s probably going to come up at some point. They want to be appreciated but at the same time, they’re expected to stop and have children and stop and take care of their children, so there’s a lot of different aspects that I think haven’t been addressed completely on other shows that might be focusing more on comedy or other aspects.
CraveOnline: What made you decide to do TV again?
Lucy Liu: Well, I had a meeting with [ABC President] Steve McPherson and we had discussed working together. To me, a lot of people say, they might use the word “interfere” or “How do you transition from one thing to another?” For me, it’s not about transitioning. It’s about a character that you are interested in playing and that you bring to life however you can. For me it’s always been important that if I find a character that’s interesting that I can make that character special even if it’s a cameo in, let’s say, Chicago or an episodic or guest star role on Ugly Betty or something like that. If I feel like there’s something there that I can add to it, then I will. In terms of interfering with film work, I don’t think that it will because even for this show, I had a film that had the same time schedule and we were able to work it out. After I shot the pilot, I went to Florida and shot another movie. So to me, it’s only going to expand my ability to constantly recreate things. I know a lot of people like me doing action movies and I think this gives me an opportunity to focus on acting because I don’t think that Mia Mason is going to be doing any kung fu anytime in the near future. It will give me the opportunity to explore all of those worlds which is so much more interesting to me than just one thing.
CraveOnline: As a working woman, do you ever feel that you have to put career before relationships?
Lucy Liu: Well, I think that we are in a different time now. I think men in some ways are a little bit confused, not in a bad way, but there was a time when men were expected to open the door and pay for dinner and do all of those things. Now they don’t really know what to do. They don’t want to be chastised for not opening the door but then at the same time, some women can open the door on their own and they feel like it’s not something they appreciate or expect. So men are kind of in a difficult place where are they supposed to be men and pay for dinner, or should they let the woman pay for dinner? So it’s kind of a difficult connection for men to understand. Where are we right now? Where is that step? I think that our show will address that and has addressed that. In this particular case, her character is up for the competition. It’s not really gender-related. It’s about two people who are up for the same job and who is going to win? I think that if the audience saw Mia back down and say, "I should let him win because he is a man," I don’t know what would happen to me, if people would throw eggs at me on the street. So I think that it shows that even though she decides to go ahead and do it because she thinks it’s an exciting venture, it turns out that it might not work for her personal life because the man is either intimidated or finds it embarrassing or humiliating. I think that’s something that we don’t address as much in television shows in terms of women in the corporate world. We will see men in the corporate world. We will see men going up the latter, but what happens with women?
CraveOnline: Where do you see your character going: work it out with the guy or date other people?
Lucy Liu: Well, I don’t exactly know what’s going to happen. I’m being completely honest. At the same time, I remember as I was doing the scene, I felt like she had more to say. Like, “Oh great, that’s what you decided.” I felt kind of frustrated by that and I felt like there should be more. Like even if he did leave, that she’d probably think about it and give hi ma call and say, “You know what? That’s fine. I just want to give you some last thoughts.” I don’t know what’s going to happen but I have thought about it over and over again which doesn’t mean it’s going to be televised.