Lucy Liu has made a name for herself playing an assortment of imposing females ranging from the hilariously icy (yet undeniably hot) Ling Woo on "Ally McBeal" to ferocious booty-kicker Alex Munday in the "Charlie's Angels" movies.
That may explain why this first-generation Asian-American actress from Queens, N.Y., fairly leapt at the chance to play a vulnerable woman searching for her Prince Charming in "Marry Me," a sparkling two-part, four-hour romantic comedy airing Sunday and Monday, Dec. 12 and 13, on Lifetime.
Written by Barbara Hall ("Judging Amy," "Joan of Arcadia"), the TV movie recounts how Atlanta social worker Rae Ann Carter (Liu) finds herself swept up in a romantic quadrangle with three handsome suitors: Luke (Steven Pasquale, "Rescue Me"), a charming interior designer who impulsively proposes to her on their first real date; Harry (Enrique Murciano, "Without a Trace"), Luke's wealthy former college roommate; and Adam (Bobby Cannavale), her ex-lover, who is pursuing her after realizing he made a mistake putting their relationship on hold and now wants her back.
Sitting on the steps outside a suburban Atlanta church during a break in filming, Liu freely confesses this role was catnip for her.
"It's amazing, and it's great to be in a romantic comedy," she says, looking surprisingly fragile as she idly plays with a big black dog lolling at her feet. "I think that more than anything is a great part of my doing it. This is definitely not a stunt-driven movie, so for me it was more of a challenge to try to do something where the character gets married as opposed to, you know, gets hit in the head. I was excited to do a full-blown romantic comedy, an all-out girl-and-guy movie."
One of the guys in the equation, Pasquale, says his maiden voyage into the romantic comedy genre couldn't be more fun.
"The script is very well-written, and the cast is wonderful," he says. "My character has been unlucky in love until he meets Rae Ann, played by Lucy. Things happen kind of instantly and spectacularly with them, and they're off and running on a whirlwind romance after they meet on a blind date that my 'reverend uncle' sets us up on."
As if working with three hot guys weren't enough incentive, an added bonus for Liu was working with Annie Potts as her adoptive movie mom. The two became friendly last year when Liu took over a role from Potts in a Broadway play, and the former "Designing Women" actress was more than happy to work in Atlanta, the setting of one of her biggest TV successes.
"Barbara Hall is just a wonderful writer," Potts says. "Do you remember the wonderful relationship that Tyne Daly and Amy Brenneman had in 'Judging Amy'? Barbara is so good at writing really interesting and complicated and fresh mother-daughter things, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the piece. My character is really fun, and she's Southern, which is always emotional territory that is in my neighborhood, so I was delighted to take it on.
"I have not worked in Atlanta before, but I have run into several people here just on the street who think, because of 'Designing Women,' (that I used to live here). One person the other day said, 'Oh, Miss Potts, we're so glad that you've moved back!' People assume I lived here. My alter ego did, but not me. I haven't even been here in a long time, so Atlanta is all fresh for me."
Lucy Liu has too many suitors begging 'Marry Me' on Lifetime
Lucy Liu stars in "Marry Me," airing Sunday and Monday on Lifetime.