WRITER’S NOTE: This article was originally written back in 2012.
She has had memorable roles in movies like “P2,” “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” but it’s going to be hard to forget about Rachel Nichols after watching her in “Alex Cross.” As Detective Monica Ashe, partner to Cross and lover to Detective Tommy Kane (Ed Burns), Nichols is a strong and alluring presence as she holds her own with a very talented cast which includes Tyler Perry. While the movie is not exactly a critics’ darling according to Rotten Tomatoes, Nichols registers as one of its best assets to where you wish her character was in it a little longer.
While at the “Alex Cross” press conference which took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Nichols said she was familiar with James Patterson’s books and the Alex Cross character, but what drew her to this project was the script.
Rachel Nichols: I read the script and I just thought to myself this is going to be sort of an interesting combination of the drama aspects and also a lot of action. I knew that Rob (Cohen) was attached and obviously everyone is familiar with his work, and I knew that he’d put a really exciting and very different spin on it and I wanted to be part of that.
As I said earlier, I really wish Nichols was in the movie longer. Her character ends up, shall we say, disappearing from it rather early on, and Nichols commented that she has a sad history of getting the “not” part in several movies. She also said her parents wish she would do a romantic comedy next where she survives and ends up happy in the end. Regardless, Nichols had a lot of fun during the filming of “Alex Cross.”
Rachel Nichols: I honestly felt that I was there for the entire film. When I watched it the first time I didn’t actually know where in the course of things that I would no longer be in the film. I like the element of surprise that comes along here. That and what happens to Cross’ wife supports the vigilante aspect of it and makes everyone get on Cross’ side.
Like her co-star Burns, Nichols has played her fair share of law enforcement officers on screen. When asked if this has helped her develop a talent for figuring out the mystery or solving the case in each movie she’s in, Nichols replied she certainly tries to.
Rachel Nichols: I don’t think I’m terribly successful at it. There is that element of trying to figure things out which is fun, but I certainly don’t think that I’ve accrued any new skills to do that.
But although she has played cops in the past, Nichols made clear that she still had to relearn the techniques of sweeping a room and proper weapons procedure while working with the Detroit Police Department in preparation for her role.
Rachel Nichols: You’d think it would be like getting back on a bicycle but it’s not.
In talking about working with Burns, she said the first thing they shot together was their love scene. It happened a month after they first met at the casting sessions, and she recalled that they looked at one another and said, “Hey, how are you? Let’s get naked!” Looking back, Nichols said this was totally the way to do it.
Rachel Nichols: I love that scene because two people sitting on a bed is not as dynamic as that scene was. We did the roundabout and it was moving and constantly emotional and he (Burns) is out the door. But thanks to Cohen, it felt very easy for us to do and we had a great day on set.
I am very serious when I say Rachel Nichols is really good in “Alex Cross,” and I think the roles she gets offered from here on out will be much bigger than what she’s received so far. Hearing her talk about her role as Monica Ashe shows us an actress who has done her research and never just walks through any part given to her. I look forward to seeing what she does next.