The Bounty of Baylin: An Exclusive Q&A With Flash Gordon’s Karen Cliche

This Friday night at 9PM EST the SCI FI Channel enters another amazing scifi series into their scifriday line up. This time around it’s a new take on an old favorite, Flash Gordon. Continuing with Eclipse Magazine’s Flash Gordon mania week, we had a chance to catch up with the beautiful Karen Cliche who stars as bounty Hunter Baylin in the new version of Flash Gordon. Cliche is no stranger to the world of Scifi related television series, having had leading roles on several television series including Mutant X, Young Blades, Adventure Inc., Galidor, Vampire High. She is also no no stranger to the SCI FI Channel having guest starred in their original series The Dresden Files. In Flash Gordon, Karen Cliche plays Baylin who was Ming’s most valuable bounty hunter. Cast out at an early age from her tribe, the Verden, Baylin learned out of necessity to survive on her own.

Fiercely independent, with a strong personal code of honor, she is a force to be reckoned with. As dangerous as she is beautiful, Baylin joins Flash and Dale on Earth as they battle the evil forces of Mongo. In this exclusive Q&A with Karen Cliche Eclipse Magazine readers get the low down on her role as Baylin and working on Flash Gordon.

EM: You seem to play a lot of very athletic ‘fighter’ type characters. Do you have any formal training in fighting and gymnastics?

KC: What’s funny is I was never very athletic growing up! Though I was never a “dainty” girl and didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. About 6 yrs ago I trained for a film for 2 months learning Aikido, Tae Kwon Doe, and learning the choreography for a huge fight scene. It was my first time ever doing something like this, and from then on I started landing tough girl roles and learned how to handle weapons and fire arms as I went along. So I know how to ‘fake fight” for TV and film very well, but I would be close to useless in a real situation!

EM: In Flash Gordon, Baylin finds herself being thrown unprepared into earth’s culture. How is she adapting to the changes and what kinds of challenges does this kind of scenario bring to your character in the series? How is she integrated into a more contemporary setting after being in an alien setting?

KC: Well, there are many opportunities for comedy with Baylin on Earth. She of course isn’t accustomed to most things, like how to drink from a bottle, or not to eat a banana with the peel still on, etc., and we showcase that quite a few times! You see her learn the mannerisms and customs throughout the show, but she has yet to adapt this whole political correctness thing! So we use those scenarios for a laugh most of the time. Because Baylin is brave and has been on her own for such a long time she isn’t afraid of the differences between Earth and Mongo. She is eager to learn and she sees it as a challenge to overcome.

EM: As an actor, what draws you to play characters like Baylin in Flash Gordon, which are strong, independent woman who can hold their own in a fight or in a mentally demanding situation?

KC: In my own life I am drawn to women who are strong and self assured. I think it is very important that women have the confidence to speak their mind and stand up for themselves. We are very intelligent powerful creatures and we shouldn’t be afraid of our strength. So if my characters can be an inspiration for someone, then I am so happy! (I even take strength from my characters and apply it in my own life!)

EM: What in your perspective sets the character of Baylin apart from other characters in Flash Gordon and how as an actor have you approached the process of setting her apart and making this role stand out?

KC: Baylin first of all has a very unique way of speaking. It is very precise, and to the point, with no “ums, gonna’s and ya know’s”….. so her speech is the most obvious difference , since she looks human in every way. What I keep in mind is that she isn’t aware of the social ways humans have; shaking hands, smiling when she doesn’t want to, even lying. So she seems very brash and unfriendly, even rude at times, but it really is like a cultural difference. Except it is a planetary difference!

EM: Where you familiar with any other versions of Flash Gordon before auditioning for the series? What do you think sets this version apart from them and what gives it a fresh take on the stories and mythology of Flash Gordon?

KC: I was not familiar with Flash Gordon before this. I did a little research on the other characters, but I also didn’t want to know too much about it because I knew this take on it would be different. The adventure is still there, and Ming is still trying to rule the universe, but our version is hip, witty, and a lot of elements and conflicts are thrown in the mix. Love, jealousy, the quest and yearning for a loved one, and of course, my character is new so she stirs things up a bit!

EM: The creators of Flash Gordon wanted a very distinctive look for the series and the characters and have done so extensively through costuming. What type of costuming is used for your character? Did you have any challenges with costuming and what was your favorite?
KC: Baylin’s “classic” look (the one I am most often in) is her bounty hunter attire. She is Verden, so her tribe is very organic and earthy, and my costumes always reflect that. Greens and browns and very textured cloth. And of course finished off with a 12 inch dagger and an IP gun! Because I am often in that one and all the weaponry attached doesn’t make for the most comfort, I love when I have to disguise as another tribe, especially when it is colorful, sexy Omadrian or Courtesan looks! ooh la la.EM: What kind of challenges did you find in filming this role of Baylin and what was the most rewarding aspect of playing the character in SCI FI’s new series Flash Gordon?

KC: I think any time an actor plays a “non human” we are faced with the exciting challenge of drawing purely from our imagination. I wanted to give her many relatable qualities so that the audience could understand her , but at the same time staying loyal to the fact that she is different and that takes real concentration to not slip into human mannerism mode! Her way of speaking was and is still the main thing that defines her so I have to always watch I don’t ever say DON’T , but DO NOT! I even find myself speaking this way sometimes now as Karen!

EM: If you could tell the audience one thing to look for in Baylin as a character when the watch Flash Gordon this coming Friday what would it be?

KC: With Baylin, she comes across as very tough and hard, and she is in some ways yes, but she is this way because she was orphaned at a very young age and so has been a warrior most of her life to survive. There hasn’t been much room for frivolousness so she tends to take everything quite seriously, because she has never really had the luxury to be relaxed and dependant on others. She has fought both physically and emotionally all of her life. So once people understand that, on top of her not knowing the “proper” ways to act on earth, she is quite endearing! I think!

EM: If you could create a promo for Flash Gordon to grab the audience attention knowing what you do about series, what would it be?

[img][/img]KC: Everyone’s portrayal of their characters is fantastic. We have a talented bunch of people on this show, and the writers are no exception. Eric is so charming as Flash. The heartbeat of the show is the search for answers concerning the death of his father, but on top of that lies a lot of adventure, drama and humor. It is a great fun hour of television!EM: Besides Flash Gordon, which premieres this Friday on the Scifi Channel, what else can we look forward to seeing you in?

KC: Right now a short film I was in called MOMENT is on its 3 rd International film festival so I am very proud and excited about that. In September it is being shown at the L.A SHORTS festival!

Be sure to check out Karen Cliche as beautiful bounty hunter Baylin by tuning in for the premiere of The SCI FI Channels new series Flash Gordon this Friday August 10th at 9PM EST.

Article copyright2007 to M R Reed. Photos copyright2007 to The SCI FI Channel