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And… Action!

The most dangerous actress on the planet hits Chicago in style.

Maggie Q

For reasons as elusive as they are irrevocable, there are few things men enjoy more than watching beautiful women on the warpath. From Tomb Raider to Underworld, there’s no shortage of movies showcasing Hollywood’s hottest ladies suiting up to single-handedly combat armies of evil. But our favorite warrior woman of all may be Maggie Q. Born in Hawaii, she started out modeling in Asia before being discovered by Jackie Chan and ushered into the world of Hong Kong action films. A move to Hollywood soon followed, as did roles in films like Mission Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard. The high-adrenaline actress raised the stakes in 2010, taking on the lead in the CW’s Nikita, on which she plays a deadly spy. As Nikita wrapped up its final season, she visited Chicago to film the upcoming sci-fi thriller Divergent, penned by local author Veronica Roth. We caught up with Q to talk about the film, fighting and, as it’s our fashion issue, how men should dress to kill.

How’s filming on Divergent going?
It’s cool because it’s one of the first times I’ve been on a project filming [a movie set in a city] when we’re actually in that city. Usually you’re in a city trying to double for a different one and you’re hiding stuff. We’re really embracing Chicago.

Is there a lot of action?
There’s some. I don’t do any action in this film, but if we do a second one I will. There’s a war brewing at the end of this one.

How did you become a go-to action gal?
I have no idea why I ended up in the action genre. People think I’m a martial artist; I’m not. I’ve never done a martial art in my life. I couldn’t even touch my toes when I started. I got noticed when I was 18 by Jackie Chan’s company and they wanted to train me into a fighter and I didn’t know why. I’ve asked directors since why people like me in this role and they said it has nothing to do with my body but that there was ‘something internal that you can’t fake on-screen; something that’s believable about your struggle.’

You do your own stunts. How did that start?
It was in Asia. When I started there if you couldn’t do [a stunt] right away they would throw in the double and never give you another chance. They don’t have big budgets, which means they don’t have a lot of time, which means they don’t have a lot of patience.

You’ve had an interesting career arc, from starting off as a model to finding success as an actor in Asia, then Hollywood. What are a few highlights so far?
I wasn’t a real model. I did shows and stuff but I mainly did a lot of commercial work because I’m not very tall. Then I got drafted into the entertainment world. For highlights I would say that working under a martial arts legend [Chan] was big for me, but not for the reasons people think. People say, ‘Oh, it must have been so fun.’ It wasn’t fun at all. He was so hard on us. He started with nothing and worked his ass off to be where he was so he wasn’t going to coddle anybody... I appreciate that because if he was any other kind of boss I don’t know if I would be as tough as I am.

With Nikita coming to an end after four years, how do you feel?
I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’ve learned more on television in the last four years than I’ve learned in my entire career, just about the big- picture process. I’ve also learned what it is to push myself to an edge that I can’t come back from. My first year of the show I wore myself so thin that I was on an IV by the end of the season.

Wow. OK, one last question. This is our fashion issue. Is there a particular look you’d advise guys to gravitate to more often than others?
I love suits. But it’s just fun to see people dress who really know who they are. It’s all good as long as it’s you. I will say, though—men in uniform. That’s one of my favorite things on the planet. Nothing better. I cannot pass a fire truck and keep going. I always have to stop and look at them. My gift to me.