The Orville star Adrianne Palicki was able to live out one of her childhood dreams by playing Diana of Themyscira in a Wonder Woman TV series pilot, even if the experience was all too brief. In 2011, Palicki had been tapped by NBC to star in a Wonder Woman TV series produced and written by David E. Kelley. While the pilot was filmed, the network ultimately decided to pass on the series, but Palicki still thinks it could have been a hit if NBC had just waited a little longer to air the show.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Adrianne Palicki opened up about her time playing Wonder Woman for NBC, which also brought about the opportunity to work with The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes – her childhood crush.
“It was honestly the scariest thing ever and the best thing ever at the time. Getting to wear that outfit was just a huge dream. I walk in one day and it’s Cary Elwes. And I’m like, ‘I can’t read with him. He was Wesley. He was the love of my life at one point!’ I was so nervous. Thankfully, he was a shoo-in and we got to work together and I got to hear all of the amazing stories about Princess Bride.”
NBC’s failed Wonder Woman series would have also imagined a new take on the popular superheroine. Palicki was set to play three different alter egos for the show – Wonder Woman, the superhero working out of Los Angeles; Diana Themyscira, the owner of a corporation that merchandises the Wonder Woman brand; and Diana Prince, her secret identity as a meek young woman who enjoys spending time with her cat at home. Getting to play essentially three different characters on show was also fun for Palicki.
“It was fun for me to get to play three different characters ultimately. I loved that David E. Kelley is really great at writing really strong women, and I found he did that beautifully in all of the different personas. What they all still had [in common] was this beautiful vulnerability of isolation.”
Elwes would have played Diana’s business partner, and he wasn’t the only other star to be involved in the ill-fated Wonder Woman show. The cast also included Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as her “Commissioner Gordon,” Diana’s liaison at the LAPD; Tracie Thomas (9-1-1) as Diana’s personal assistant; Justin Bruening (Grey’s Anatomy) as her ex-boyfriend; and Elizabeth Hurley (Austin Powers) as drug kingpin Veronica Cale.
Palicki believes the team they had worked very well together, but as this was before superheroes had completely taken over pop culture, NBC just didn’t see the potential in it at the time. Perhaps things would have played out differently if the show had gone into development just a year or two later, as Palicki also theorizes.
“It was devastating when it didn’t go. It was so big, I feel like maybe if it had been [made] one or two more years [later], it would’ve been a shoo-in.”
Wonder Woman wasn’t the only doomed DC pilot to feature Palicki. She also played a villainous role as Nadia in a pilot for Aquaman on The WB in 2006. Unfortunately, The WB merged with UPN to become The CW while the pilot was shooting, and the new network chose not to move forward with the series.
Fortunately, the good roles would come soon enough for Palicki after her Wonder Woman disappointment. She picked up the lead female role in the 2013 action movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation. On the small screen, she was cast in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Bobbi Morse, though the character’s planned spinoff Marvel’s Most Wanted also fell through. More recently, Palicki has been starring as Kelly Grayson on the comedy sci-fi series The Orville, playing the ex-wife of Seth MacFarlane’s character.
Fans can also see more of Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman when Wonder Woman 1984 is released on Dec. 25. You can read more of Palicki’s interview about her failed Wonder Woman pilot at Entertainment Weekly.