Living by the Sword

Not a witch but close enough. Director Ralph Hemecker is the man in charge of the Witchblade, so Ian Spelling slipped on a suit of armour to do battle for information.

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Pezzini and McCarty: a fine team, if only they'd realise..EXPLAINS Ralph Hemecker, the executive producer, writer and sometime director of the TNT series based on the popular Top Cow comic book of the same name, "I don't know if the Witchblade comic book is our bible, but it's certainly been a launching pad." He continues, "Perhaps a better metaphor is that the Witchblade comic book is a very rich broth that we can draw upon. There's just a lot of creativity and imagination and a lot of ideas that went into that comic book, and we can tap into all of that at will to get fodder for the show. And we do."

Witchblade, the series of course, follows the adventures of Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler), a New York City police officer who, very secretly, fights evil on a daily basis, and she does so with the aid of a mysterious and ancient gauntlet referred to as the witchblade. The two-hour pilot that aired in late August of last year and spawned the series witnessed the strong-willed Pezzini suffering the loss of her partner, Danny Woo (Will Yun Lee of Brimstone) and then finding the witchblade - or did it find her?

As the story progressed, Pezzini got to know her more free-spirited new partner, Jake McCarty (David Chokachi of Psycho Beach Party), and engaged in a battle of wills with the enigmatic Kenneth Irons (Anthony Cistaro), a billionaire intent on taking possession of the witchblade, regardless of the fact that only those of the female persuasion can actually brandish it. The series continues that ongoing story: Irons still covets the witchblade, Irons' creepy flunky Ian Nottingham (Eric Etebari) lurks about, Pezzini gets visited every so often by the sage ghost of Danny Woo and she's still feeling her way through her partnership with McCarty.

Taking it a step further, in such episodes as Diplopia, Legion (which guest starred, of all people, The Who's Roger Daltrey as a priest) and Maelstrom, Hemecker and company are telling standalone stories as well as those that somehow key into the existence and power of the witchblade, a weapon that quite often seems to have a mind and an agenda of its own.

Front and center in all of the action is Butler. The actress, whose piercing eyes and dark eyebrows are special effects unto themselves, is best known for her roles in Mann and Machine,Drop Zone, Hard Target and the cult film favorites The Ex and Savage Weekend, as well as the Given the Heir episode of the anthology TV series Perversions of Science.

"What does Yancy bring to the table?" Hemecker asks, repeating the question just posed to him. "Everything. Yancy brings everything to the table. She's just phenomenal. She's incredibly smart and she can wrap her mind around all sorts of dialogue and make it work. She's a great actress. She's very photogenic and she's also very physical. She can do a big chunk of the action stuff herself, which really gives a lot of authenticity to the fights we stage. On top of that, she's a trouper. I'm just ecstatic that she's the star of the show..."

More of this Witchblade feature in the issue!

Taken from Xposé Special #16,
Witches 2001, out now