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Q & A with Lucy Liu

The accomplished actress and artist tells us about her new TV series, "Elementary," her new movie, "The Man with the Iron Fists," plus how she stays healthy.

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OK, let's talk Elementary, which is a modern take on the famous duo of Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, with you playing the famous sidekick. How is this character different from fiction's original?

The original was a man, obviously. In fiction Watson narrates the entire story; you see everything through his eyes. In this one you see the two of them interacting. Sherlock leads because he's the detective. And you get to see how their relationship develops, through both sides. Both characters have quite a bit of edge.

Your Watson is a former (and now disgraced) surgeon. Did you do any research to portray a doctor?

I have a lot of friends who are doctors -- but I'm not going to go out and perform surgery any time soon! But I do have lots of friends that I call with questions.

What's it like working with the dazzling Johnny Lee Miller? He performs verbal gymnastics in the pilot.

He does! And he'll continue to. He's wonderful; I love working with him. He's very focused, he's fun to be around, and he always comes prepared -- a dream to work with.

As detectives, you and Sherlock rely on the five senses -- sight, sound, touch, scent and taste -- to decipher clues. Of these five, which do you value most in real life, and would never want to lose? Why?

That's a tough one. I need my sight. It connects me to everything. Visually, as an artist, if I had to choose one out of all of them I'd have to say sight. 

You received critical nods for your guest arc on TNT's cop drama Southland last season. With so many projects in the hopper now, do you have any plans to reprise the role?

I was on Southland for one season, but I don't know if I'll be going back. [My character] Jessica Tang may have done the last of her running around with her partner! It's a very different show than the one I'm working on now. If I could do both, I would.

You joined UNICEF in 2004 as a celebrity ambassador. Tell us about your work with this organization.

I started in a general way; I focused on malnutrition and education. Then I worked on two documentaries [Liu narrated both Redlight and Traffic] about sex trafficking, which is an incredibly important topic. It's been around for so, so long but people are finally becoming more aware of it. It even happens here in the United States, at places like truck stops. People don't know the vulnerability of girls and children. In developing countries it's even more [prevalent] because families think their children will have a better life, that they'll get an education. But what happens is these children wind up being sold and becoming child sex slaves, as young as age 4 or 5; it's appalling. UNICEF does an incredible job. They have programs on the ground all over, all the time.

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