01/06/2014 03:08 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 08:17 EST

Tricia Helfer On 'Killer Women,' Playing A Bad-Ass Texas Ranger And Shooting A Grenade Launcher


If there's one thing we can say about Canadian actress Tricia Helfer, it's that she knows how to pick strong leading female roles. Perhaps best-known as Number Six on "Battlestar Galactica," Helfer is back in the prime-time saddle on "Killer Women" as Molly Parker, the only female member of the renowned Texas Rangers law enforcement agency. Molly Parker is bad-ass, ballsy, and brilliant. Despite discrimination from her male colleagues, Molly struts onto a crime scene and analyzes the case as only she can.

Premiering on January 7, "Killer Women" is a close look at a woman's point-of-view in a predominantly male profession. In each episode, Molly and her team work to solve a case involving a female-committed crime, hence the title of the show.

HuffPost TV chatted with Helfer about this leading role, the many sides of Molly and if she'll ever bring her motorcycle into the mix.

HuffPost TV: I gotta say, you rock the cowboy hat.

Tricia Helfer: [Laughs] Oh, thank you! It took me an episode to get used to it. By the time we started the series post-pilot, I loved wearing it. I'm used to wearing something like a straw, fashionable cowboy hat in California. Molly's wearing a real Stetson.

Would you say you're attracted to these strong female roles?

I'm definitely attracted to these roles, but that's not to say I won't do other ones. For example, I'm guesting on an upcoming Canadian comedy called "Spun Out" -- and I'm playing a posh, over-the-top ex-wife -- so I'd say I like to do all kinds of things. Part of the reason I find myself doing strong roles is because it's what people hire me for. You know, I'm tall, I have a stronger, deeper voice than a [goes high-pitched] girly one.

Molly is strong, that's for sure. Does she have weaknesses? And if she does, will we find out about them?

Oh, absolutely. One of the things that drew me to the character in the first place was that yes, she's strong, she's smart and she's active, but she definitely has a vulnerable side. She's trying to get divorced from a very narcissistic ex-husband, who also happens to be a public figure. We realize through the series that he has some control over her. It's funny, a friend of mine said to me, "I have a problem believing that this strong character would allow herself to be victimized by this man."

After reading some information on abuse, especially emotional abuse, I found out that women, regardless of their strength, can find themselves in situations like that. Before they really realize they're in it, it has escalated to a point where she's embarrassed to admit it. A spiral is a spiral -- but that's one thing I find fascinating about Molly, the weakness that she's hiding.

In many instances in the first episode, Molly's "female intuition" -- for lack of a better term -- comes into play in a predominantly male environment.

That's one of the things that we used for Molly ... we knew that she studied female psychology, so she's more in tune from an educational standpoint, but also from a woman's point-of-view. She may have more of an upper hand than some of her male counterparts when it comes to figuring out why certain women act the way they do.

In the world of policing, it's no secret that there's gender discrimination and we see a bit of it in the first episode of "Killer Women." Have you experienced discrimination in your real-life profession as well?

Well, we had the real first female Texas Ranger to be our advisor on set, and I had talked to her about that, and obviously a lot has changed now ... but I don't think they let women into the Texas Rangers until 1993. It's not that long ago, and believe it or not, a lot of the other Rangers quit when she joined. In 2013, Molly has to deal with it only some of the time. I like that not everybody is that way; Molly knows when to make an issue of it and when to just brush it off. She has a great relationship with her boss, Luis (played by Alex Fernandez), and with the other Rangers.

In my own life, one thing that I can relate it to is when I first started acting. I came from modeling in New York City for 10 years, and starting acting in 2002, it was difficult to get anyone to take me seriously. They would say, "Oh, she's just a model, she can play a girl in a bikini," or that type of thing. They wouldn't realize that a) I wanted to play something different than that, or b) I could be different than that. There were a lot of building blocks and a lot of pounding my head against the wall. They would think, "She's just pretty," but I was so fortunate to get "Battlestar" a year after I moved to L.A. Again, a lot of people wrote me off and thought that I was just the blonde in the red dress.

Does Molly discover some romance as the series goes on? There's something happening with Dan (played by Marc Blucas), right?

We definitely want to make the point that she's been separated from her husband for close to a year. She's been damaged in her relationship in terms of trust and moving on. It's hard for her to move on when her ex still has a hold on her, and refuses to get a divorce. She wants to trust Dan, and they're dating throughout the series, but it's a slow process. Of course there are a couple of rough patches, as relationships go. [Laughs]

And I wouldn't say this show is just for women. There's a lot of action, and I think you shoot a bazooka or something in the first episode.

No, even though it's called "Killer Women," I don't think it's a women-only show. [Laughs] And it was a grenade launcher. It was so much fun. The driving too, with the 180s in the middle of the street in Austin, and peeling off the other way, driving up an embankment to the freeway. I love doing that stuff.

Are you going to incorporate your bike [motorcycle] into the show somehow?

I actually do; Molly does ride, but not very much. I actually pull up in a BMW S1000RR, but we pull it up to Dan's cabin, where it's all gravel and dirt. I had to be extra careful. We do have a bike chase in the Season 1 finale. The show creator knows that I ride, so she very sweetly wrote it in that Molly rides.

"Killer Women" premieres on Tuesday, January 7 at 10 p.m. EST on City in Canada and ABC in the U.S.

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