Wonder Woman: Adrianne Palicki Reflects on Failed 2011 NBC Pilot

Adrianne Palicki cemented herself in the annals of pop culture especially in the realm of superhero and science fiction genres with her turns as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as Commander Kelly Grayson on Hulu's The Orville. While Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot play the most famous incarnations of Wonder Woman on television and films, respectively, the actress was able to live the dream of playing the titular character at least for an NBC pilot in 2011. Palicki spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the experience.

Adrianne Palicki attends Huluween Celebration at Town Stages on October 4, 2019 in New York City. Editorial credit: Ron Adar / Shutterstock.com
Adrianne Palicki attends Huluween Celebration at Town Stages on October 4, 2019 in New York City. Editorial credit: Ron Adar / Shutterstock.com

"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," Palicki recalled. "I walk in one day and it's Cary Elwes. And I'm like, 'I can't read with him. He was Wesley. He was the love of my life at one point!' I was so nervous. Thankfully, he was a shoo-in and we got to work together and I got to hear all of the amazing stories about Princess Bride." Developed by David E. Kelley (Big Sky, Big Little Lies), the TV incarnation envisioned Wonder Woman adopting a dual life as the vigilante hero and as Diana Prince. EW described the synopsis of the series.

"The world knows Wonder Woman as both a Los Angeles-based superhero and as her alter ego Diana Themyscira, the leader of a large corporation that merchandises the Wonder Woman brand to fund her vigilante hustle. At the end of the day, though, she returns home to her secret identity, Diana Prince, a meek, bespectacled woman who owns a cat and enjoys romance movies."

Challenges Adrianne Palicki Faced Being Wonder Woman

"It was fun for me to get to play three different characters ultimately," Palicki said. "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. What they all still had [in common] was this beautiful vulnerability of isolation." Despite all the pressure the actress was feeling, she felt confident in the foundation Kelley provided her. "The stans — being one as well — have very strong opinions, and it's really important, especially in the comic-book community, to win them over," she continued. "I was very nervous about that—[and] also very beautifully shocked and pleased that people were very supportive of me getting the role, obviously having not seen the show. I was lucky enough to have a beautiful writer and my buddy [pilot director] Jeffrey Reiner, who I trust implicitly and is never gonna just settle on a scene if it isn't perfect. That made me feel much more comfortable. I felt like we were all a team and it wasn't just me pushing for this."

Wonder Woman: Adrianne Palicki Reflects on Failed NBC Pilot
Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman (2011). Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Co-starring with Palicki was Elwes, Tracie Thoms (Etta Candy), Pedro Pascal (Ed Indelicato), Justin Brening (Steve Trevor), and Elizabeth Hurley as Veronica Cale, Diana's arch-nemesis. Coincidentally, Pascal plays the villainous Max Lord in the upcoming Patty Jenkins' sequel for Warner Bros Wonder Woman 1984 opposite Gadot as the title character. Palicki recalled filming one of the chase scenes. "It was one of the most surreal moments of my life," says Palicki, who worked in a store along the star-studded L.A. strip many years ago. "I can't believe I was managing a sunglass store there and now am part of the process of closing down Hollywood Boulevard wearing a Wonder Woman costume." The actress felt "devastated" when NBC passed up on the series but counted her blessings it at least allowed her to work with one of her childhood crushes. "I would not have had a life between the stunt rehearsals, being in every scene," Palicki recalled. "It would've been worth it, but it probably would've aged me massively in three years. If anything, that alone [working with Elwes] was worth it. That and wearing the costume." Wonder Woman 1984 is slated for release on Christmas 2020. The Orville season 3 makes its debut on Hulu in late 2020.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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