Taking No Prisoners

By Chang, Yahlin | Newsweek, November 30, 1998 | Go to article overview

Taking No Prisoners


Chang, Yahlin, Newsweek


Lucy Liu has energized 'Ally McBeal' this season, stealing scenes as the sharky, litigious Ling Woo

Lucy liu was so perfectly cast as Ling Woo that she can't even understand why the other characters in "Ally McBeal" hate Ling so much. Despite the woman's take-no-prisoners behavior and her permanent scowl. Or the lashings she delivers, eyes narrowed, a sneer on her lip: "Do you have a point?" "Stop bugging me." "I don't like your outfit." In one episode, Wicked Witch music from "The Wizard of Oz" fires up the moment Ling appears. "I know, what's up with that?" says the actress, annoyed. "She's not mean, she's misunderstood. I don't know what everybody's issue is with her."

Vicious and icy, Ling has proved to be exactly what "Ally's" second season needed. She and Nelle Porter--the supremely confident, quirk-free attorney played by the luminous Portia de Rossi--turned out to be necessary antidotes to Ally's stammering neurotic outbursts. (The show seems fed up with Ally, too--throwing her in jail one week, plunging her into a toilet the next.) And the fans seem to love Ling. "Ling is my hero!!" one wrote on Fox.com. "Man! is Ling hot or what," wrote another. In February they'll get to see Liu in a small part in Clint Eastwood's "True Crime" and in a starring role as a dominatrix in Mel Gibson's "Payback." Liu had actually auditioned for the part of Nelle. She had an eclectic background: New York theater, guest gigs on "ER" and "NYPD Blue," a regular role in "Pearl." "Ally" creator David E. Kelley fell in love with Liu's biting delivery, and Ling was born. "David loves to write for Lucy," says Greg Germann, who plays Fish. "He takes from what she does and flies with it. …

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