Maggie Q Nourishes Herself With Local Produce and ‘Dateline’

Onscreen, Maggie Q specializes in hard-core power women, snapping necks, spraying bullets and showing no fear in thrillers like “Nikita” and “Designated Survivor.”

But offscreen, even Q, whose real name is Margaret Quigley, occasionally gets nervous. And for “The Protégé,” in which she plays a contract killer out for revenge, the source of her anxiety wasn’t taking on the physically demanding role two months after spine surgery. Or racing to complete filming in Romania and London with the pandemic on her heels. Or even spending a night repeatedly jumping off a four-story balcony because the cameraman kept missing the shot.

Rather, it was Michael Keaton, her co-star in this game of fatal attraction.

“It was my internal daunt of going into this with somebody that I had this immense amount of respect for,” Q said in a call from Los Angeles. “I just thought, ‘Well, everything else I know on this movie I can pull off.’”

Q’s next undertaking will rely on her wit, a weapon she seldom pulls from her arsenal in the take-no-prisoners roles that have made her famous: She has signed on, alongside Ginnifer Goodwin and Eliza Coupe, to “Pivoting,” a new Fox comedy, out this winter, about three best friends in their 40s doing some serious navel-gazing after the loss of their fourth.

“It’s exciting because you can do a variety of things in your career, but the reality is the kind of movies I do that are action-oriented, those are the big ones and so those have a further reach — that’s always what people are going to remember,” Q said, as she discussed the cultural influences that have shaped her life and kept her body and mind supple. “It’s a good year for mixing it up and ending in a different way.”

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

1. “American Gigolo”

Everyone needs to experience Richard Gere at this time. Iconic. And who doesn’t want to look at Lauren Hutton? She kills me with that face — it will destroy you. I saw the movie in my late teens, and I remember the fashion. Movie costume designers at the time were making major statements, and they were influencing fashion designers. Nowadays it’s like: “Make Scarlett Johansson look not as beautiful and just one of the people. Put her in a T-shirt and jeans.”

2. Farm Box Deliveries

Farm box deliveries became a must during the pandemic because they had closed all the farmers’ markets down. We went from 150 farmers’ markets in L.A. to five, and they were very regulated until all these people were losing their incomes, and their families were suffering. Then a bunch of cool people decided to get in touch with those farmers directly and have them drop all the things at their house, and then they would arrange boxes. So I do the farm box or I go to the farmers’ market. It doesn’t get more sustainable than that unless you grow it yourself in your backyard.

3. Asian Soups

As the daughter of a Vietnamese woman, it’s in my blood to have soup. I find it one of the more healing things in life, and great for comfort and to de-stress, which is better for overall mental health. The famous one is pho, but there’s a variety of crazy soups. My mom, if she ever comes to visit, she’ll make huge pots of soup and she’ll bag them individually, like one serving, and line them up in the freezer. That is an Asian mom, right there.

4. Stretching

It doesn’t have to be yoga. You don’t have to label it. Just please stretch. It will change your life and your body. You’re activating your muscles, and you’re releasing the lower back and your hamstrings. All that’s super important. And I kid you not, it will make you an overall nicer person because you will alleviate pain.

5. Backgammon

I was never interested in it at all, but recently one of my business advisers was like, “I want to get you into this game.” It’s really all about strategy. It’s not hard to learn. It’s very hard to win. You have to have big-picture thinking. And it’s about knowing when to take risks and when not to, and seeing where you’ve made mistakes and making your risk assessment better. I have three companies. And I feel like playing backgammon really does help me strategize better as a business person.

6. Rescue Dogs

It’s important to remember that the animal world has so much to offer humans who suffer or struggle. As evidenced by seeing-eye dogs and disaster-relief animals, a daily offering of animal companionship is a gift that cannot even be valued. And if you choose to adopt, you would be offering them the gift of life. That’s called a win-win.

7. Asian Stand-Up

I love that there are more Asian stand-up comedians these days. There’s this kid that was on “The Daily Show,” this guy Ronny Chieng. You have Ali Wong, who’s had a great success. When I was growing up, it was Margaret Cho. She was the only one. So it’s really nice to see such a diverse group of comedians coming out of the woodwork. I think part of it is that streaming has allowed for so much more content, and that makes me really happy. I know that being a minority in a business — whether you’re a man or a woman doesn’t matter — it’s really tough to break through all of that.

8. Plays on Record

When I was a kid, I used to listen to “A Pink Panther Christmas” in December because it was that time of year. Records that were plays were incredible because you had to use your imagination. I used to sit and picture the scenes being played out in my head when I was listening. It was simple. The overstimulation that kids have now is something I can’t imagine. For me, I would put on a record and let it all unfold, and I had to be an active listener to participate.

9. Blondie

I don’t think I need to go through the hits of Blondie, because there are too many. Debbie Harry was the coolest. She was so rock and free and sexy — no one like her. Her style and her confidence never left me. I saw her perform a few years ago at the Met ball. And guess what? Still got it.

10. “Dateline”

I love “Dateline” like the air I breathe. It’s so easy to shut off and get sucked into the why and whodunit of it all. You sit down, and Keith Morrison is talking to you. I know what I’m going to get. I’m going to guess, and I’m going to be wrong. Then you go down the rabbit hole. I love bad guys getting caught. I love a little justice with my early dinner in front of the TV.

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