News Column

Adrianne Palicki of 'Red Dawn:' Queen of the Nerds

Nov. 24, 2012

Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee

LOS ANGELES -- Dressed in a royal blue dress that hugs her 5-foot-11 form with as much veracity as a scared 3-year-old clinging to a parent, Adrianne Palicki looks like she is ready to make her way down any fashion runway.

Don't let her wardrobe choice fool you -- you're more likely to find the TV and film actress at a comic book convention.

Few actresses have been as involved in nerd-friendly projects in recent years as Palicki. Along with her starring role in the remake of the 1984 action film "Red Dawn," the 29-year-old Ohio native plays Lady Jaye in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," was in the pilot for a possible TV series based on the comic book "Aquaman," played the original Supergirl on "Smallville," took on the role of Judy Robinson in John Woo's unsold TV pilot based on "Lost in Space" and was so far along in the process to be TV's latest Wonder Woman that she was scheduled to be on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" when NBC pulled the plug.

She's got her family to thank for sparking her interest in such roles. "I grew up playing war in the backyard with my brother and cousins. We would be running around with fake guns. I would also go out to my uncle's farm to shoot real guns. I was a basketball player and ran track," Palicki says. "That all helped me with the action-type roles because I have a lot of stamina having been a runner."

That stamina came in handy while shooting "Red Dawn." Just like her male co-stars, Palicki went through a lengthy boot camp to get ready to play one of the young heroes who band together when a North Korean Army takes over their Pacific Northwest home. Their guerrilla warfare attacks -- accented by the battle cry "Wolverines!" -- quickly turn the young men and women into seasoned fighters.

"The boot camp was really cool because a lot of us didn't know each other before this and we all kind of show up at 6 o'clock in the morning at this boot camp not knowing what to expect," Palicki says. "The tactical training was a way for us to get to know each other and to become friends. Through that, we pretty much became the Wolverines."

The actress still has scars on her hands from the training.

Palicki grew up a comic book fan, especially those featuring Supergirl, thanks to her older brother, Eric, who is a comic book writer. She was inspired by how the comic book hero could be blond, blue-eyed and beautiful while still having the same powers as Superman. Supergirl became such an icon for Palicki that she has a tattoo featuring the comic book character.

Palicki laughs and says you'll have to take her word that she has the body ink -- it's in a place few will see.

"Some of the strongest female characters can be found in comic books. Some of the females in comics are even stronger than the men, which I love," Palicki says.

She thought she was going to get to live out her dream of playing one of the strongest women in comics -- Wonder Woman -- when she was cast to play the Amazon crime fighter in a new series for NBC. The series looked like a lock for the 2011-12 TV season, but the network abruptly killed the show.

"I was devastated," Palicki says. "I loved the show. I loved the cast and the crew. I loved my costume."

Not all of her work has been for the never-go-outside crowd. She says the three seasons she played Tyra Collette on "Friday Night Lights" helped establish her career and was an incredible acting experience. There's no doubt in Palicki's mind that the football family drama made her the actor she is today.

It was right after she left "Friday Night Lights" that Palicki landed the role in "Red Dawn," the first of the long string of TV and film roles in the action and fantasy genres. ___

(c)2012 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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