Lucy Liu calls her role in Elementary “a nice break”. Not because shooting 24 episodes per series of the US Sherlock Holmes update isn’t hard work but because, so far, it’s been a little less physically demanding than the parts she’s used to.
Liu plays former doctor Joan Watson – partner in crime-solving to Jonny Lee Miller’s detective – in the CBS series, a relatively sedate entry on an acting CV that includes Samurai sword-wielding O-Ren Ishii in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, high-kicking Alex Munday in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and numerous other martial arts and action movies.
And the 45-year-old star says her body bears the marks of those very physical roles – not to mention the operations needed to repair them.
“I have enough scars and grazes now,” says Liu. “You know how when kids are growing up, you have little lines on your wall to show hold tall they are? I can show the different career paths I have taken through surgeries.
“I have been doing two decades of action, so [Elementary] is a little bit of a nice break for me."
But part-way through the second season of the show Joan is now a full-time consulting detective, a job that increasingly sees her cross paths with dangerous criminals. And Liu hints that her former fighting skills might yet be put to good use in Elementary.
"I think it would be a little bit unbelievable for a doctor to start wielding a sword," she admits, "so we have to sort of work that in.
"In the first couple of episodes, they have shown [Joan] using one baton – we did three or four hits, that was it, nothing major – but I think that might be something the writers were showing the audience, that she has been practicing outside of it.
"So if she suddenly has some defence techniques, don’t be surprised."
An excuse to discuss tonight's episode, really. Elementary returns on January 30.