The 32-year-old actress shifts from comedy to drama for the supernatural series.
By DANIEL FIENBERG
The entertainment truism is that dying is easy, but comedy is hard. Gabrielle Union disagrees.
"Drama can feel like therapy, whereas comedy feels like there's been a pressure and a weight lifted off of you," Union says. "You come to work and you laugh all day, you go home and you feel light."
Things are about to get increasingly dramatic for the 32-year-old actress, who is going to become a television regular on ABC's update of "The Night Stalker." Like the cult '70s series, "The Night Stalker" focuses on Carl Kolchak (Stuart Townsend), an aggressive reporter who investigates crimes that more often than not have a supernatural bent.
Union's latest feature is "The Honeymooners," an adaptation of the classic television comedy in which she plays Alice Kramden, wife of Cedric the Entertainer's blustery Ralph. Rushed into a prime summer release date, "The Honeymooners" made only $5.54 million dollars in its first weekend, making it a relative disappointment.
'Bringing the light'
Things probably won't be any easier for "The Night Stalker," which has been plunked down on Thursday nights at 9, opposite established ratings behemoths like CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and NBC's "The Apprentice."
In "The Night Stalker," Union players Perri Reed, an intrepid crime reporter who becomes an unwilling and unwitting partner in Kolchak's investigations of the unfathomable. Given that the update comes from "X-Files" veteran Frank Spotnitz, it isn't surprising that Reed and Kolchak instantly strike a familiar dynamic in the pilot.
"My character is the Scully, if you will," Union explains. "I don't believe and I offer a bit more of the comic relief, where Stuart's character is very dark and brooding so I am more the light, yeah, and if you will, I'm the lighter part of the drama."
Union's character is one of many alterations to the show's original formula, in which Darren McGavin's Kolchak was more of a world-weary loner on a one-man truth crusade. Like the main character's trademark Ford Mustang, everything in this remake has been made younger, sleeker and darker.
"We shot the whole thing on HD, so it kind of has that feel like 'Collateral,'" says Union. "It's real moody and dark and then here's my character, sort of bringing the light. But I didn't want to watch [the original] because it would sort of take me out of bringing it into 2005, because my character didn't exist."