Forgive yourself if you forgot, before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., star Adrianne Palicki played Wonder Woman in a pilot for NBC produced by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal). It never made it to air.
Some people still saw it and remember, keeping Palicki from putting it behind her. And so, a decade later, she is discussing the experience and its upside.
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“It was honestly the scariest thing ever and the best thing ever at the time. Getting to wear that outfit was just a huge dream,” she admitted to Entertainment Weekly.
Playing the character, or characters, was fun, recalled the Mockingbird actress, and she liked the way Kelley wrote them.
“It was fun for me to get to play three different characters ultimately,” Palicki continued. “I loved that David E. Kelley is really great at writing really strong women, and I found he did that beautifully in all of the different personas.”
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The three different personas she refers to are the superhero (Wonder Woman), alter ego and corporate bigwig Diana Themyscira (you read that right) who funds her heroics by selling WW-themed merchandise, and Diana Prince.
This third, unnecessary Diana Prince wasn’t the one most are familiar with. In the pilot, she was more like Clark Kent or Kara Danvers as played by Melissa Benoist – wearing glasses, staying at home with her cat, and binging romantic comedies.
Why Wonder Woman had two secret identities is confounding but Palicki liked the dynamic. “What they all still had [in common] was this beautiful vulnerability of isolation,” she said.
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Palicki also argues the pilot was ahead of its time and would have fared better today. “It was devastating when it didn’t go. It was so big,” she said. “I feel like maybe if it had been [made] one or two more years [later], it would’ve been a shoo-in.”
She went on to say it was right before the boom of Marvel movies and TV where the money is made.
The same can be said of a few misunderstood superhero shows, like Swamp Thing, but Palicki has a point. If it went to series now, her Wonder Woman could fit in with Supergirl and Batwoman (and much of the Arrowverse) on The CW.
What could’ve been aside, there’s no denying WW took off on the silver screen with Gal Gadot in the role. Palicki is as inspired and grateful to have Gadot’s films and moments as anybody.
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“It’s so great to see this character come to life because it is important for young girls. She changed my life,” she said.
Palicki admits she was “devastated for a while after” the pilot wasn’t picked up though she looked on the bright side.
“I would not have had a life between the stunt rehearsals, being in every scene,” she believes. “It would’ve been worth it, but it probably would’ve aged me massively in three years.”
Also worth it to her was working with Cary Elwes who co-starred. “If anything, that alone was worth it,” she said. “That and wearing the costume.”
Palicki bounced back with S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as parts in John Wick, GI Joe: Retaliation, and The Orville.