Lucy Alexis Liu (劉玉玲 Liú Yùlíng; born December 2, 1968) is an American actress, born in Queens, New York City to Taiwanese immigrant parents. Although she did well in her studies, she started acting when she auditioned for a minor role in a college production of Alice in Wonderland, and instead won the lead.
After some small roles in films and television, her breakthrough came when she got a part in Ally McBeal, playing the foul-mouthed Ling Woo, a new character specifically written for her. Her tough attitude made her a sex symbol for a lot of viewers, and her performance earned her Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award nominations.
Since then, she has appeared in a variety of film and television roles, often playing an Action Girl or Dark Action Girl, as well as doing voice-acting in animation (cf. her appearance on the Futurama episode where Fry downloads Lucy Liu's likeness into a robot and uses it as his girlfriend and her role on the King of the Hill episode "Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do?" as Connie's delinquent cousin Tid Pao who tricks Bobby into making a meth lab for her). Liu also holds the honor of being the first Asian-American woman to host Saturday Night Live (her episode was a season 26 Christmas episode with Jay-Z as a musical guest). In the 2010s, she completely changed her image and finally broke away from Dragon Lady and Ms. Fanservice typecasting by playing Dr. Joan Watson opposite Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes in Elementary.
Her filmography includes:
- 3 Needles as Jin Ping, the Blood Smuggler
- Ally McBeal as Ling.
- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever as Agent Sever
- Charlie's Angels (2000) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as Alex Munday
- Chicago as Kitty Baxter (cameo)
- City of Industry as Cathi Rose
- Cypher as Rita Foster
- Disney Fairies films as Silvermist
- Elementary as Dr. Joan Watson
- Futurama as herself in an Adam Westing role.
- Jackie Chan Adventures as an adult Jade Chan.
- Joey as Lauren
- Kill Bill as O-Ren Ishii
- Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness as Viper
- The Man with the Iron Fists as Madame Blossom
- Maya & Miguel as Maggie
- Lucky Number Slevin as Lindsey
- Marry Me as Rae
- Mulan II as Mei
- Payback as Pearl
- Rise: Blood Hunter as Sadie Blake
- Set It Up as Kirsten Stevens
- Shanghai Noon as Princess Pei-Pei
- Watching the Detectives as Violet
- Why Women Kill as Simone Grove
Her tropes include:
- Actor Allusion: Cypher references Kill Bill.
- Actor-Inspired Element: O-Ren in Kill Bill was written to be Japanese. When Quentin Tarantino saw Shanghai Noon he rewrote the character to be part Chinese in order for Lucy to play her.
- The Cameo: She has one in Chicago as Kitty Baxter, an heiress who murders her husband and his lover (nearly stealing Roxie's thunder in the process).
- Celebrity Voice Actor: As Viper in Kung Fu Panda, Silvermist in Disney Fairies and Mei in Mulan II.
- Dawson Casting: She was ten years older than her character Lindsey in Lucky Number Slevin.
- Dragon Lady: A modern day example; especially with her notable roles in Ally McBeal, Charlie's Angels (2000) and Kill Bill.
- Enforced Method Acting: In Lucky Number Slevin Josh Hartnett actually flashed Lucy for the scene where Lindsey discovers Slevin with his towel open. It was scripted but she didn't know he'd be naked - so her reaction is real.
- Hostility on the Set: Apparently with Bill Murray on Charlie's Angels (2000). It was reported that the argument shut down filming for a day.
- Playing Against Type: In Lucky Number Slevin as a dorky and geeky scientist.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Vivian in Charlie's Angels (2000) was written to be white. When Lucy was cast as Alex, they changed Vivian to Chinese.
- Star-Making Role: Ally McBeal, which even got her a special news report about how she was the only Asian-American doing anything major on television at the time.
- What Could Have Been:
- Thandie Newton was cast as Alex in Charlie's Angels (2000) but had to drop out when Mission: Impossible II ran over schedule. Angelina Jolie and Jada Pinkett Smith had turned it down.
- Ling Woo wasn't intended to be a regular. David E Kelly liked Lucy so much as a guest star that he revealed she had a law degree, and had the character join the firm after a few episodes. She had previously auditioned for the role of Nelle, which went to Portia De Rossi.
- She auditioned for the role of Elektra in Daredevil but lost out to Jennifer Garner.