Margaret Denise Quigley is an American film and television actress. She is more popularly known by her stage name Maggie Q. Initially, she wanted to become a veterinary scientist but due to her family’s financial limitations, she could not come up with the required funding. She left her hometown of Honolulu to earn enough money so that she could pursue her dream. Her travel took her first to Tokyo, where she began her career as a model, and then to Taipei before she finally settled in Hong Kong. While she was in Hong Kong, she met superstar Jackie Chan who took an instant liking to Q. Realising her true potential, Chan provided her with intensive training on how to be an action star. In 1998, she made her screen debut in the television drama ‘House of the Dragon’. Two years later, she starred in her first feature film, ‘Model from Hell’. Q’s performance in her next project ‘Gen-Y Cops’ eventually led to her first appearance in a Hollywood film, Brett Ratner’s ‘Rush Hour 2’. Since then, she has been equally busy in both Chinese and American film industries. She currently stars as Hannah Wells in ‘Designated Survivors’.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on May 22, 1979, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Margaret Denise Quigley is the youngest daughter of a Vietnam veteran and his property investor wife. Her father, who is of Irish and Polish ancestry, met her Vietnamese mother while he was stationed in Vietnam. She has two half-siblings from her mother’s previous marriage as well as two older sisters.
She was an exemplary student. She studied at Mililani Waena Elementary School and Wheeler Intermediate School before enrolling at Mililani High School, where she was part of the cross country, track and field, and swim teams.
After she graduated in 1997, she wanted to study veterinary science and even received an athletic scholarship from a private university. However, it soon became apparent to her that her family could not support her academic dreams financially. Thus she decided to leave Honolulu so she could accumulate the necessary amount of money to further her education.
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It was at the advice of a friend that Margaret Quigley moved to Tokyo, Japan to start off her modelling career when she was 17 years old. She later went to Taipei but she did not achieve much success there. Undeterred, she moved once more, this time to Hong Kong, with little to no knowledge of Cantonese, the language of the land. During this period, she adopted the moniker Maggie Q as the Chinese could not pronounce Quigley properly.
The most important turning point in her career occurred when she met superstar Jackie Chan. Under his tutelage, she learned the importance of professionalism and the necessity of doing one’s own stunts. Despite never having practised martial arts before, her background in sports helped her to successfully undergo the training.
After her debut show, ‘House of the Dragon’, became a hit, she made an easy transition to the big screen with films such as ‘Model from Hell’ (2000), ‘Gen-Y Cops’ (2000), and ‘Manhattan Midnight’ (2001), winning the adoration of Chinese film fans in process. Her portrayal of Jane Quigley in ‘Gen-Y Cops’ impressed Chan so much that he got her a small part in his 2001 American film ‘Rush Hours 2’.
In her next project, the action-thriller ‘Naked Weapon’ (2002), she was cast opposite Daniel Wu. Between 2003 and 2005, she appeared in a series of Chinese films, playing both lead and supporting roles. In the German-Singaporean telemovie ‘House of Harmony’ (2005), she worked with Fann Wong and Philippe Brenninkmeyer. Q turned a producer for the documentary film ‘Earthlings (2005), which was narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.
In 2006, she starred in her breakthrough role as Zhen in Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible III’. She played the secondary antagonist in the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (2007). These two movies definitely established her at least as a candidate to be the next action star in American cinema.
She appeared as Maggie Wong in the sports comedy ‘Balls of Fury’ (2007), portrayed the fictional granddaughter of Chinese warlord Cao Cao in her first Asian costume epic ‘Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon’ (2008), and was part of the ensemble cast of the 2008 anthology film ‘New York, I Love You’. In the same year, she worked in ‘Need for Speed: Undercover’ video game as the seductive federal agent Chase Linh.
She played Mai Shiranui in ‘The King of Fighters’, the 2010 film based on SNK's The King of Fighters series of fighting games. In the Divergent trilogy, Q starred as Tori Wu, who, over the course of the film series becomes a vital and reliable friend to the lead protagonist Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley). She was also one of cast members of CBS’ short-lived crime drama ‘Stalker (2014-15).
Her character on ABC’s ‘Designated Survivor’, Hannah Wells, is a smart and intuitive agent with the FBI. The show began airing its second season on September 27, 2017.
Maggie Q is set to appear in the upcoming films ‘The Brits Are Coming’ and ‘Slumber’. A TV movie titled ‘Queen of Canton’ with her as the legendary pirate Ching Shih is also in development.
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Maggie Q starred as the titular character in The CW’s spy thriller ‘Nikita’, which was an adaptation of the 1990 film of the same name by Luc Besson. Often compared with Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse’ and ABC’s ‘Alias’, the series told the story of Nikita, a former assassin who worked for a secret government-funded organisation known as ‘Division’, who returns after three years in hiding to orchestrate the fall of the organization.
During its original run, the show aired on The CW from September 9, 2010 to December 27, 2013, and was a critical and commercial hit. Q herself received much praise for her acting, with one reviewer calling her “a draw” and commenting that “she can be mesmerising on-screen”. For the role, she was nominated for the Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress: Action three times in a row (2011-13).
Awards & Achievements
For ‘Mission: Impossible III’, Maggie Q won the Best Supporting Film Actress at the 2007 Asian Excellence Awards.
She received the Maverick Award at the 2009 Hawaii International Film Festival for ‘The Warrior and the Wolf’ (2009).
In past, Maggie Q had dated actors Daniel Henney and Justin Long, and ‘Rush Hours 2’ director Brett Ratner. She then met actor Dylan McDermott on the set of ‘Stalker’. They started dating in October 2014. Three months later, in January, 2015, their engagement was announced.
As an animal rights activist, she has been involved with PETA for years and participated in PETA Asia’s campaign promoting vegetarianism, for which she appeared nearly nude in one ad, lying on a bed of crimson chilli peppers with “Spice Up Your Life” written across the image in stylish fonts. In a second ad, she posed with strategically placed lettuce leaves next to a tagline that read, “Turn Over a New Leaf – Try Vegetarian!"
Later, she cut out all animal-based products from her diet and came out as a vegan. PETA honoured her as one of the three “sexiest vegans” of 2017.
Over the years, she has gotten three tattoos, including one of a phoenix on her left hip.
Since July 2013, she has been the owner of a historic country home in Pound Ridge, New York.
In high school, she was picked as the “Best Body” in her senior year.