Morena Baccarin: I studied lizard sex videos on Youtube to prepare to play Anna

Morena Baccarin was our favorite Companion on Firefly, and now she's an inscrutable lizard queen on V. How does she manage to play a character who ostensibly has no human emotion, but grapples with tons of family drama?

And more to the point, how does all of that lizard mating and reproduction actually work? We talked to Baccarin, and she broke down the secrets of playing a ruthless lizard woman.

How has the way you play Anna changed over the past couple years?

Morena Baccarin: I studied lizard sex videos on Youtube to prepare to play AnnaS

In the beginning, she was very stoic and really calm and collected, and I think where we are now, and where we end up at the end of the season, is with a much more irrational version of this character. Which is really fun, to go from zero to a hundred in two years. And I think that this version of Anna is kind of scarier, because she's a little bit out of control. You start to see her develop more human emotions, especially with the hybrid baby. She starts to develop feelings for [Ryan's] baby. She becomes very attached, and when the kid calls her "Mommy," and tells her she loves her, she really starts to feel something for the child.

Pretty much all the other Visitors on the show have given into human emotion at various times - you've sort of been the lone standard-bearer for the idea of being without human emotion. How do you convey that Anna doesn't feel our emotions? How do you keep that fresh and compelling?

I think that if I was really playing no emotion, it would be a really boring show. So I have to kind of make it look like I'm playing no emotion. [Laughs] It's about reining it in, really, and being really controlled with it. And there's a box that I definitely try not to step out of, but within that I think that there's subtleties and nuances that you can play with. So it's challenging sometimes, because the minute you start to show what you're feeling, you get into trouble.

Morena Baccarin: I studied lizard sex videos on Youtube to prepare to play AnnaS

So you just really have to be small, but really specific with it, if that makes any sense. Not showing too much, but kind of specific. I need to know, in every line, what the thought is behind that, and what I'm feeling behind it, so that I choose to not play that. You know what I mean? And within that, it comes through a little bit. You know when she's angry, and you know when she dislikes something. But she doesn't show it. But you know it. It's so hard to talk about it, it's so ethereal. [Laughs]

Anna's sort of a paradox in that she's really good at manipulating human emotions even though she doesn't feel them. She's sort of empathic, I guess.

Yes, yes. She's like, you know, a thief of emotion. She studies things and wants to be able to lead humas in that way.

Do you ever think all three generations of lizard women will get together and be friends? Anna, Diana and Lisa? Do you think they're going to be a real family?

Nope that's probably not going to happen. I think [Anna's] very threatened by her mother, and I think that she's very potentially threatened by the fact that Lisa is possibly feeling human emotion and is going to betray her. She's really careful. I think Anna is the kind of character who keeps her enemies closer. And it doesn't matter if it's her daughter.

How does the Visitor mating process usually work? We've been trying to figure it out.

Ummm... good question. [Laughs.] I don't know. I know that for the mating scene I had with that guy, before I eat his head off, I studied some lizard videos on Youtube. Because I just wanted to know, what am I doing? I had no idea what I was going to do. I mean, it's obviously not the same as humans. I don't know if you've ever had the privilege of watching lizards mating. Basically, one of them gets on the other one's back, and then nothing happens. They just sit there. Obviously, something is happening, somewhere, but we can't see it with the naked eye. So that's kind of what I had as my guide.

I figured like, if I was skilled... They have this thing where they spread out their toes and their hands. And I was like, Maybe I'll do that on that guy's face. I was just trying to be as creative as possible. There's no Bible on that stuff.

So Firefly didn't have any aliens in it. It was just about people. Did you ever talk to Joss about how he would do aliens on television? If he created aliens, what would he do?

I haven't talked to him about it. I think it's something that he's not that interested in. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think he's more interested in the human experience, and putting humans in different and troubled circumstances. Especially young hot women. [Laughs]

What else are you working on now?

I am doing episodes of The Mentalist, starting on Monday. Just kind of stay busy while we wait to see where the show is.

What do you think of the idea of fans raising $300 million to buy the rights to Firefly? Would you be on board for that?

Yeah, I think we would all have to do it for it to work, so yeah. Sure.