I’ve never been particularly enamored with the Men in Black films. I like the first one, but my appreciation for it never rose to the level of love. I realize this puts me in the minority, but I would probably enjoy the MIB movies more if they made one important casting change. I’ll freely admit I have never been a fan of Will Smith, and that dates back to before he was slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. He’s a big zero onscreen for me in most of his work. Harsh? Eh. He’s overrated. Now, Tommy Lee Jones is extraordinary, and I love him in nearly everything he’s done, but even he’s not enough to make me care to revisit MIB movies. I much prefer to revisit classics like Eyes of Laura Mars, Rolling Thunder, Natural Born Killers, or The Fugitive for primo Tommy Lee.
Now, Lara Flynn Boyle is a whole other story.
She is enough to make me sit through Men in Black II, probably because I’m a Peakie, i.e. a Twin Peaks fanatic. Boyle will always get a free pass from me, thanks to her work on David Lynch’s magnum opus. Back when she was having a moment in the 1990s—2000s, I always enjoyed her in movies like The Temp (1993) and Threesome (1994), or during her 132 episodes of The Practice. So when she shows up in MIB II as Serleena, the deliciously evil villain of the film, you know at least her scenes will be memorable. And Ms. Boyle sure doesn’t disappoint.
Serleena Xath is an operative of the Kylothian military, an evil intergalactic queen obsessively trying to obtain the all-powerful cosmic force known as the Light of Zartha to aid in her destruction of whichever planets she deems unworthy. As happens, this brings her into direct conflict with the Men in Black, especially Agent Kay (Jones), who she’s battled before. Serleena infiltrates Earth, shape-shifting from a humanoid alien creature into a sexy, raven-haired beauty after seeing a lingerie ad featuring Lara Flynn Boyle as the model. Lara Flynn Boyle plays Serleena playing Lara Flynn Boyle—bad girl vibes and all. Remember, Boyle was often portrayed by the misogynist media as “controversial” because she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, a trait she shares with Serleena.
Described as one of the most feared aliens in the universe, Serleena is as bad as she wants to be and having a good time at it too. Taking the form of a lingerie model, complete with black lace push-up bra and seductive, pouty, fire engine red lips, Serleena has a voracious appetite for life—and by “life” I mean she devours entire human beings to satisfy her hunger. In fact, she’s always hungry, chomping on cheeseburgers when she isn’t swallowing a man whole.
Boyle looks and acts fabulously throughout, like a campy comic book vixen come to life. Interestingly, she almost never got the chance to play Serleena. Famke Janssen was originally cast, before dropping out during filming due to a death in the family. Rumor has it that Boyle was cast because her then-boyfriend Jack Nicholson demanded it from Sony in exchange for his participation in Anger Management (2003). Whether it was luck, circumstance, or the clout of an Oscar-winning boyfriend, Boyle certainly grabbed the role by the balls and never let go.
Serleena is a memorable villain from an oft-forgotten sequel, and Lara Flynn Boyle deserves credit for that. She’s sexy and funny, and clearly having a grand time with the movie’s silly sci-fi material. She even earned a Razzy Award nomination for MIB II, and we all know the Razzies are actually indicative of quality work (see: Showgirls). Two decades later, people still tend to sleep on Boyle’s Serleena, which is a shame because both the actress and the character deserve lifetime memberships in the “Bad Girls We Love” club.
One thought on “Bad Girls We Love: Serleena from Men in Black II”
I love the Men in Black films, but MIB II is more of a guilty pleasure since I was so young when I saw it in theaters. Lara Flynn Boyle as the seductive Serleena was one of many movie characters that sparked my interest in girls growing up.
LikeLiked by 1 person