Exclusive Interview: Nicky Whelan on ‘Matador’

I still can’t believe they cancelled “Scrubs” after only nine years. I was into the final medical school season, and Nicky Whelan played a funny Aussie med student. So when I saw her in other funny, sexy roles like Hall Pass and “Franklin & Bash,” I was happy for her.

Now Whelan is a lead on El Rey’s spy adventure “Matador.” She plays Annie Mason, the CIA boss of Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna)… and I made the mistake of referring to her as a Bond Girl. “Matador” airs Tuesdays at 9pm on El Rey.

CraveOnline: Do you get to be the Bond girl in “Matador?”

Nicky Whelan: I don’t think Annie is the Bond girl. We have a lot of guest stars that come on that are really those Bond girls. Gorgeous girls come on that go up against Tony Bravo’s character and he has some flings with them which you’ll see. They’re fabulous gorgeous girls, like this gorgeous redhead that comes on. She’s so good. I play the head of the department of the CIA, so I’m more of a boss figure. For me personally, I love it because it’s a new journey for me. It’s a new role and a new character.

I’ve gotten to play the pretty girls in a few things before in the past and it’s nice to take on something where, I guess you can say, I get to keep my clothes on. [Laughs] And really dig into the character and the show, and look after all these men. She’s very passionate about her job. She’s a very smart woman. She’s got to be, where she is. She’s got a big past as to why she does what she does now and she’s hardcore. I call her hardcore because she is. She’s pretty ruthless and it’s been a really nice challenge and a pleasure to play her.

Does she get to be in on the action?

There’s a few parts, yeah. She does go undercover as Tony’s agent and I get to have my Australian accent which is always fun in those roles. Yes, I do get out in the field a little bit and we’ve had some gun training prior to starting the show. I’ve gotten to definitely do a bit of training and a few stunts along the way, so it’s been a nice kickass role for sure.

So your real voice is her cover?

Yes, my real voice is her cover. That’s exactly right.

How does “Matador” compare to your experience on TV comedy like “Scrubs?”

It’s the polar opposite on every bit of the scale. My last two pilots I shot were with live audiences which was a whole other process, and “Scrubs” and “Franklin & Bash” were comedies. I came in more as guest spots each week than a series regular, playing funny, boopy characters. To come in and play a lead character, a very powerful woman in an hour drama is a whole new ballgame for me, a whole new challenge. It’s making me step up in every way. I’m so grateful. It’s just making me feel better and do better. It’s a dream come true to get a role like this and such a big responsibility, and I’m ready for it so I’m really taking it on.

You weren’t a regular on the last season of “Scrubs?”

I think of those 13 episodes I did nine, but I wasn’t one of the leads. You know the way that’s written. That’s a completely different sort of program. It’s quirky, set up, it’s a comedy so every line I would say would be a joke. This, I’m banging out dialogue and it’s a different experience. It’s very different for me.

I would have totally kept watching “Scrubs” with your class of medical students.

Oh, it was fun. We had a great time and all those crew that came on to play the new medical students have all gone on and done really big movies. Kerry Bishe and Dave Franco, they all have gone on and done massive things. Bill Lawrence has a really good knack of casting great people. I know it didn’t go onto a 10th season but nine years isn’t a bad ending, to be honest.

You talk about being ready for this. Was kick-ass action heroine something you always wanted to do as an actor?

I think everyone, I don’t want to speak for everyone, but for the most part it is nice to play a role where you get to kick ass and you get to, in a way, help save the world and run the show. It’s a very powerful character to play. I’ve never been given that much responsibility so I’m really enjoying the process of it. I think it’s come at the exact right stage of my life as well. I will be making the most of every minute of this character.

When I have seen you play sexy characters in the past, it seemed like you were game for it. Are you saying there might have been some regrets?

Definitely no regrets. Definitely no regrets at all. Everything I’ve played I’ve had such a fabulous time, and they’ve all been so different. From Hall Pass, they’ve all been these really fun characters but no regrets for sure, but it is nice to play a different Nicky, to show people a different side of me absolutely. Like you asked am I playing the Bond girl, no. I get to play the kick-ass lady that runs the show and it’s just nice to be on the other side. It really is. It’s something different, so I enjoy all of it. If I get asked to be sexy on something else, don’t think I would say no. I’m going to say yes and I’m going to run with that sh*t for sure, absolutely.

If Tony gets too good at soccer, will Annie have issues with that?

Even if he does, she’s quite happy to whip him out of his fantasy and straight back into keeping in mind that he’s got a job to do. Obviously, underlying Tony Bravo’s dream was to become a soccer player. Now he’s getting the opportunity but he still shows so much passion for his job being undercover for the CIA, but he also develops a really good love for Galan as well. That’s what I love about Gabe’s character. Everywhere he goes, he has this little magic dust that he leaves on everybody and he changes everybody’s lives in this funny, naughty kind of way. He’s leaving a really beautiful effect on everybody, but Annie’s ruthless. She’ll kick his ass.


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