SFX Issue 89

Spring 2002

Profile:

Stephanie romanov

Lilah Morgan, Angel

Calling the witness for the defence of the coolest and iciest, yet sexiest lawyer ever…

Promotion at last! And we’re not just talking about the fact that Stephanie Romanov’s character in Angel – Wolfram & Hart lawyer Lilah Morgan – became Vice-President of the Special Projects Team (aka, the “nail Angel brigade”) at the end of season two. “In the last episode I filmed,” Romanov reveals, “they had me talking on the phone to my mum. Which is like, ‘Oh, they’re actually bringing in a bit of life for Lilah! Wow, they’ve given me a little bit more substance.’ In the third season I actually get more of a character and get to round her out a bit, and it’s fun to play that.”

For the first two seasons she played Lilah in the ever-improving Buffy spin-off show, Romanov had to share the on-going villain limelight with Lindsey McDonald, as the two of them tried to manipulate Angel and shaft each other’s career progression at the same time. But with Lindsey out of the way now, “I am the voice of Wolfram & Hart,” says the actress archly, before adding, “At least, that’s what the producers tell me.”

Although she apologises for “feeling nauseous” and having been up for hours (it’s only 8.00am) Romanov shows little sign of weariness. She bursts into hearty laughter at every opportunity and could enthuse at Olympic level. The reason soon becomes clear, when she breaks off the interview briefly…

“Sorry, just had to give my new husband his goodbye kiss. He’s off to work,” she sighs with barely disguised – but you hope self-effacing – gooeyness. “I got married over the holidays… to the most smashing man. His name is Nick Wechsler. He’s a film producer. He produced Requiem For A Dream . He is a sweetie pie… Of course, I only just got married so I’m a little bit gushy about it all. About an hour from now, you’ll be able to go, ‘So, about Lilah…’”

Like David Boreanaz, who married his new wife Jaime just months after meeting her, Romanov also had a whirlwind romance. “Eight months! We went on vacation to Thailand for our Christmas holidays and he proposed in Phuket then suggested we get married in Cambodia – because we were going on there to see the ancient ruins. We were married by five Buddhist monks. It was something really special, really beautiful and unexpected. And quick. You know we had the quickest engagement ever!”

Must be something in the water on the set of Angel ?

“I was thinking that too! Because David got married, and he’s having a baby! It must be something about… something. Maybe in that episode where he bit my neck he gave me something contagious.”

With a name like Romanov, you can guess that she may well be of Russian extraction, but family legend has it that she may even be of aristocratic descent. “Yes, well, from what I was told, I have no absolute proof!” she says in a way that lets you know she believes the story implicitly. On her mother’s side, the family history is substantially better corroborated, but no less prestigious. “My mother is a MacGregor, and Rob Roy was my great, great, great uncle. Or great, great, great, great… Anyway, this is all documented. My cousins are going back to Scotland this year to research the history of the family. My genealogy goes back to Eric The Red.”

Adding to the bizarre melting pot of heritage, Romanov was born and brought up in – of all places – Las Vegas. “Yes I was born in Las Vegas hospital, and went to Las Vegas high school. I thought there were slot machines in every shopping lobby. So it was weird moving to New York and you go into a supermarket and you go, ‘Where are your slot machines?’”

There’s not much evidence of a misspent, youth, though. “No. I was never much of a gambler. I’m not very lucky. When it comes to that type of thing, I’ll lose. And if I’m standing next to you, you’ll lose too. Anyway, my Mum would never let any cards in the house so I don’t even know how to play anything!”

So. About Lilah. Has she got the hots for Angel, then?

“I’ve always thought she did,” says Romanov. “Why else would she be so passionately against him? If you notice, from the beginning, if I am in a scene with Angel I’ve made her lips a little bit redder, always with the dark polish, to make her a little bit more of the femme fatale. Even though it’s subliminal, I do make that effort.”

Lilah must have thought the efforts had paid off in season three’s “Carpe Noctem”… although Angel’s amorous advances aren’t quite what they seem. “Ah, the desk scene,” says Romanov as if she’s been expecting the subject to arise. “Those things always look better on screen. We’re just kind of mushing faces, no real kissing, and a lot of ‘Uh!’ groaning and pretending. I’ve known David for, like, well, this is my third year and all of a sudden I’ve got to kiss him. And he’s a newlywed!”

And if Romanov had complete creative control over her character’s development, she’d certainly give her a bit of “history” with Angel. “I would make her one of the gypsies that cursed him; an avatar that doesn’t die and has been following him. Something along those lines so there’s a vendetta from hundreds of years ago.”