When we last saw Jennifer Beals, she was portraying Dr. Syd Jennings, very ill with typhus, at a refugee camp on the Turkish/Syrian border in the season finale of NBC’s summer medical drama “The Night Shift.” The series’ August 31 third-season finale was seen by nearly six million viewers, virtually guaranteeing a renewal for season four.
Assuming that “The Night Shift” will return, viewers will be able to see Beals on two NBC series next summer.
Beals is currently in Hamilton, Ontario, shooting “Taken,” a prequel to the film series of the same name where she will appear in the role of Christina Hart.
In the following interview, Beals, who first came to fame in the 1983 film “Flashdance” talks about “The Night Shift,” how she handled her “Flashdance” fame, why she turned down “Dancing With The Stars” - and she reveals her most satisfying role.
TME: Awhile back, you had developed a series for HBO about a female soldier. Did your research for that series help you in your role as Dr. Syd Jennings on “The Night Shift?”
Beals: It definitely helped me in looking at how female veterans are treated very differently from male veterans when they get home. Some of them aren’t even recognized as veterans which is so appalling. It brings up questions of gender and what we expect women to be as opposed to men in terms of the family. So many people can’t understand how a woman could leave their child in order to go serve but they have no problem with a man leaving his family to do the same thing. It becomes very interesting to play. Actually, that came up in the season finale of “The Night Shift.” There was a moment where Syd deals with that a little bit.
What our service personnel go through is almost unimaginable. I have such deep, deep respect for service men and women. It’s an extraordinary sacrifice and they model for us – really – what service looks like.
TME: Your work is so varied. From “The L Word” (2004-2009) to “Vampire’s Kiss” (1989) to the lead in “Flashdance” when you were 18-years old. Which role has given you the most satisfaction on a personal level?
Beals: I would say that the role that gave me the most satisfaction was on “Proof.” That show was an extraordinary journey. [“Proof” was a TNT drama which aired for one seasons during the summer of 2015. The show starred Beals along with Matthew Modine and Joe Morton. Beals’s character, Dr. Carolyn Tyler, tragically lost her teenage son and is separated from her husband. A billionaire with cancer sponsors her investigations into reincarnation, near-death experiences and haunting, in hopes of proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that death is not the end.]
TME: You became very famous at quite a young age through “Flashdance.” How did you handle that sort of attention?
Beals: It really wasn’t that tough to handle. I was still in school when it came out. I went back to college and just focused on my studies. I wasn’t exposed to people recognizing me all the time.
TME: Is it true that ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” tried to get you on the show but you turned them down?
Beals: Yes. (laughing) I told my agent that we can talk after they find a cure for cancer and secure peace in the Middle East. I just can’t see myself being on that show. I don’t think I would be a very good candidate. And recently the Food Network asked me to be on “Chopped.” Seriously, I don’t think there’s anyone less qualified to be on “Chopped” than me.
TME: It would be cool to see you on “Chopped,” though. I love that show.
Beals: I love that show too and I find it very inspiring. I’ve had moments in the kitchen where my “Chopped” viewing has really helped me. But to be filmed while I’m cooking and trying to come up with things and running around the kitchen? No. I would definitely be the person falling in the kitchen and setting things on fire.
TME: What would be your dream job? If you had your pick of everything or could choose any role, what would it be?
Beals: That is such a tough question because the subject is so broad. I would need to think about it. Let’s talk again when “Taken” comes out and I will have an answer for you.