Lucy Liu on Sex Change for Dr. Watson

Celebrity Q&A, Featured Article
on July 2, 2013
Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson

How does Lucy Liu feel about playing the first female Watson on “Elementary”?
—Rene Barshinger, Fairfax, Va.

“I think it’s wonderful to pioneer something, try something different and turn things on its head,” Liu, 44, says of her role as Dr. Joan Watson. “Why not? It is nice to reinvent something, but keep the essence of what it is.”

What does concern Liu about the sex change for the character is that Dr. Watson remains just as intelligent and curious as when it was played by a male—and that “Elementary” challenges its audience, just as the books do.

“A lot of television shows and movies tend to dumb things down,” she says. “People love when they don’t know what is going on right away. They love to figure it out.”

The Queens, N.Y.-born actress hadn’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes tales when she was younger, because she says she grew up in a very different cultural background. Her parents—Cecilia, a biochemist, and Tom Liu, who was trained as a civil engineer but worked as a salesman—were Taiwanese immigrants, and Liu learned to speak Mandarin before English.

But now, she has read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories and finds them to be engaging and modern.

“The adventure that is in them and the love of detail involved, you just can’t stop reading them,” says the former “Ally McBeal” star. “Not because it is homework, but it really is fantastic. I am kind of pissed off at my parents for not having introduced them to me when I was much younger. They were obviously too busy doing other things.”