Helix's Jeri Ryan

Actress Jeri Ryan on Seven of Nine and her 'ball-buster' role on Helix

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Feb 14, 2014, 5:30 PM EST

It's been a while since we've seen actress Jeri Ryan wear her Seven of Nine catsuit for Star Trek: Voyager, but she's back tonight with another tough character, if one in a less revealing outfit. Ryan joins the cast of Syfy's Helix as Constance Sutton, the COO of Ilaria Corporation, who's come to “help” with the problems at the fridge outpost.

[Spoilers ahead!]

“This was a really fun role to play, because she’s kind of out there. You know, she’s not subtle, which I love. So it was fun to just let go and just really play and let her go to those places. That was a treat as an actor,” said Ryan during a press call.

“This is my sort of first foray back into sci-fi in a number of years, so it was nice. It was a lot of fun to get back into it. And it's a fantastic show,” she said.

Constance is not your typical COO

In “Survivor Zero,” Constance arrives at the outpost with her men, but all is not what it seems, as Hatake and the beleaguered CDC investigators quickly discover.

“She’s kind of a ball-buster. I think that’s the best way to describe her, which I love,” said Ryan. As for what motivates her, “I can’t really tell you exactly what motivates her. That you sort of find out.”

What we do know is that Constance will be none too pleased when she discovers that Hatake has been pursuing his own agenda.

“I also love, as you'll see, without trying to give too much away, she’s definitely [in] the corporate world, and very much looking out for the best interests of Ilaria. But you find out that there’s a little more personal issue for her at stake as well,” she said.

“She’s certainly driven, and she definitely has an agenda that she is there to do. Hatake has gone off the rails. He is supposed to be finding them a virus and a cure, and he’s screwed up. He’s messing around and doing his own thing, and that’s not okay, so she’s there to fix it, and whatever she has to do to make that happen is what has to happen,” said Ryan.

Constance and Seven of Nine ... a universe apart

Constance has little in common with Ryan's iconic sci-fi role, Seven of Nine, from Voyager, admits the actress.

“Everything about it is different. The character is very different. Seven of Nine, her emotions were very internal. Constance’s are not. She’s a little more demonstrative with her feelings. She doesn’t quite hide it as much as Seven, so that’s kind of the biggest difference right off the bat,” she said.

“The costumes are certainly infinitely more comfortable than they were on Star Trek. There’s no corset involved in this one. So yes, I'd take this costume every day over the other one.”

Working her way back to sci-fi

It wasn't the corset that kept her away from sci-fi for years as she went on to do non-genre roles, including Body of Proof and Leverage.

“In the very beginning, when I had first ended Voyager, then yes, that was a conscious decision, because one of my concerns when I signed on to Voyager to begin with was that Star Trek is kind of notorious for its actors getting pigeonholed and not really being able to break out and do other things. And so that was a big concern of mine in the beginning, which thank God has turned out to be completely unfounded, and I've been very lucky. More recently, it’s just because I go where the interesting roles are, and this was the first one that really caught my interest,” said Ryan.

The ninja of Helix

Since working on the show she's become a big fan of all things Helix, from Hiroyuki Sanada to the more gory elements of the series.

“Oh, I love the gore. Are you kidding me? Oh, God, more gore. I love it. The goo and the guts, and all of it. I love it. So much fun. Come on. I observed autopsies when I was on Body of Proof. I love this stuff. I love the science of it. I love the gore. I love all of it,” she said.

But even more than the gory nature of the show, she's become a total “fangirl” of Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, the mysterious head of the base.

“I have to brag about Hiro for a minute. That man is unbelievable. I was in awe of him. I still am in awe of him. He’s ... the man is a ninja,” said Ryan.

“The scene where I had to throw the book at his head, and I have to throw it directly at his face, and there, you know, it’s on me. I can’t like pretend to throw it. I have to wail it at him, and he’s standing like six feet away from me, and I was a wreck shooting the scene. I was so nervous. I was like, 'Dude, I have no aim. I can’t.' He was like, 'Just throw it. Just do it. Just right at my face. Just go.'

“And there’s cameras set up right behind him, and so he has to knock the book away, and we’re worried about hitting the lens and all this expensive equipment. He never even blinked. Never flinched. Never breathed heavy. Nothing. Every take, he just batted it out of the way like it was nothing in the exact spot that it was supposed to land so it didn’t hit any equipment. He is amazing. He is amazing ... he’s just in another world. He’s not even human. It’s crazy,” she said. However, “he couldn’t be more the antithesis of Hatake in real life.”

Sci-fi has grown on her

“You know, it’s funny. When I started on Voyager I had never ever been interested in science fiction. It just wasn’t my genre to watch,” said Ryan.

“My son grew up loving Star Trek and loving Star Wars and all of that, and I just was never really interested. And now I've got a daughter who’s now almost 6, and so I started watching things with her with her big brother showing her Star Wars, for example, and she loves it. She’s obsessed with Star Wars, and I became a big fan of it through her eyes, watching it with her. And I've really started to enjoy it, so we have a great time,” she said.

“I'm actually getting into science fiction now as an adult, which is really kind of crazy at this point in my life, to start to be a fan. And all The Avengers and Iron Man, and all those movies I love, so yes, it’s fun. Discovered a new interest,” said Ryan.

Helix airs on Syfy on Fridays at 10 p.m.

Here's a Constance sneak peek:

Are you glad to see Jeri Ryan back in sci-fi action?