Lynda Carter, who returns to superhero status as the principal of a high school for would-be superheroes in Sky High, has no problem discussing the role that made her a legend: Wonderwoman. Though on the air for some four seasons, the show turned this pretty brunette into an icon.
Almost 30 years later, when asked what she sees when she sees her famous show in re-runs, Carter laughs. “I think: Oh, my God, I think she had a great body. Where has that gone? Honey, I will NEVER fit into that suit again.” A suit, by the way, she has at home. “Last time I took it out was for my daughter’s show and tell parent day at kindergarten,” she recalls, smilingly. Nothing about Wonderwoman fazes this mother of two, who never fought hard to escape that iconic image or be concerned about typecasting. “I’ll always be type cast. It’s a moniker: Wonder Woman is: Lynda ‘Wonder Woman’ Carter.”
But whatever one’s thoughts on what many critics at the time may have defined as ‘campy’, Carter emerged at a time when few women were starring in any kind of action series, a fact she of which she is undeniably proud. “You have to remember the time period, and in the 70s the only women on television were comediennes doing half-hour or variety shows – Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Laverne and Shirley. Angie Dickinson did have a cop show but it was with a male partner. The Bionic Woman and I came along at exactly the same time – and they had to resurrect the former. God, a woman can never carry a show, and there were no women on the sets except for the script supervisor. But things have changed a lot and it was great to be kind of pioneering woman in television and having the people that makes these projects realise that there’s a huge market for female characters and doesn’t have to be about guns and guys.”
As for the much talked about Wonderwoman feature film being set up, Carter is very clear who should NOT play the character. “People have talked about Sandra Bullock but she’s too old and so is Catherine Zeta-Jones. You want someone that is really fresh, but more importantly, someone who gets it; someone who doesn’t play Wonder Woman. I never played Wonder Woman, just this woman from the island where all of her sisters could do the same thing that she could do. I think Wonder Woman lives in all of us. There’s that secret person that is not just one of those things but all of them.”
Spending much of her time with her family, Carter still loves to act given the right project, and this year, the actress is in both The Dukes of Hazzard, and the comic fantasy, Sky High. In the latter, she co-stars as the principal of a high school for superheroes, who used to be a super-heroine herself. It would appear that it was a role written with the actress in mind. “Well I think that they had to have a principal for the school so when it got the green light is when they started thinking about casting me, maybe even before that because I had run into Andrew Gunn at Disney and he mentioned Sky High to me at the time, about two years ago. So I guess he did have me in mind from the beginning but, because there are so many really completed characters in the movie, I don’t think that the principal really had much of a delineated arc or role. So when they cast me they allowed me to bring what I could to it.”
Carter recalls having a huge amount of fun on this set, as she did in Dukes of Hazzard. “I had a lot of scenes with Willie Nelson and I cannot tell you, it was a total blast. When I did Sky High I thought it was such a great set, because it always comes from the top down, but The Dukes of Hazzard was great. And as soon as Willie’s bus came rolling in – it was ‘Hey, Willie’. You know, it was fantastic, so much fun.”
Carter now lives outside of Hollywood, preferring to raise her family than work non-stop. She says she has no regrets giving up Hollywood at a time when her career was at its peak. “I wouldn’t go back a day in my life – not one day. I am thrilled that I’m working as much as I am. There aren’t that many roles that are written and so not as many opportunities, but that’s okay. We sort of made it up as we went along in the 70s and I figure that, now that I’m working again, you if you build it they will come.”