.: Power of three :.
In this Australian exclusive interview, the bewitching girls of Charmed spill the beans on all of the on and off-screen action in the new series, including a wedding, a baby and, er, big boobs!
For those fans worried that Prue's (Shannen Doherty) departure spelt the end of the show, the good news i that a new Power of Three has been born. Rose McGowan's half-Halliwell, Paige, has supplied the missing link, and the supernatural sisters are back to kicking serious butt.
"This season my character seems to be doing a lot more martial arts and stuff so that's a lot of fun," says Alyssa Milano, who makes no secret of the fact that she's at her happiest when she's climbing walls or decking demons with a Matrix-style action work-out.
"It's more challenging because it really does make your day a 12-hour work-out when you're doing those scenes. It brings a whole physical element to it."
Alyssa's character, Phoebe, has been forced to grow up a little now that she's no longer the baby of the Halliwell household, and she has also, at least temporarily, abdicated her comic crown to newcomer Rose.
"There are a lot of humorous aspects to Paige discovering that she's got all of these special powers and it's trial b fire, so to speak," Rose says. "She doesn't really get that you're not supposed to use the spells for ill will, so it's going to backfire on her with things like growing big boobs and having explosions in her face."
Getting those explosions and other tricky, spooky special effects has provided the girls with some giggles behind the scenes -- and they welcomed the light relief after a turbulent previous season.
"Alyssa and I have been doing the show for so long now, that it's kind of like second nature for us to do all the special effects stuff where you do the silly poses and that sort of thing," Holly Marie Combs, who plays Piper, says. "But you see Rose doing it and she's never done it before and she feels awkward...it's funny. But it works for the show too, because while we're OK with it, she's supposed to be awkward with her powers and also awkward with her movements."
But the fourth season of Charmed isn't going to be all complex special effects, comedy and butt-kicking action.
Holly says the series has been "reconfigured" and with Piper now taking on the elder sister role, she's the one who will struggle to accept a new face, particularly as she's used to being taken care of by a big sister, and not mothering the others.
"Paige's relationship with Phoebe is easier," Rose says. "But her relationship with Piper is probably more realistic. It's more brittle and reticent, so it's more natural. If someone shows up and is suddenly this new sister, you're really not going to be instant best friends.
"It's up to those two to keep a natural pace, to let it develop as a regular human relationship instead of being like most shows, where the sisters would be best friends by the end of the first episode."
Rose says it was the chance to examine "relationships between women" which attracted her to the series, but it's now Holly -- relaxing between takes in the Halliwell attic set, just metres from the now famous Book of Shadows -- who is being given the opportunity to focus on mood rather than magic.
"It's my character's responsibility to not be totally accepting of the new sister," she says. "We have to be careful when dealing with the death of a beloved character, with that grieving period...we have to be aware that the audience may be a little iffy about her [Rose] arriving. So we have to play with those feelings as she gradually comes into the family. She's not shoved down anybody's throat. It's a show realisation of grieving and acceptance."
New lives, faces and relationships will be recurring themes on Charmed this year. The show's cauldron is bubbling over with new faces and some new dilemmas for the spellbinding sisters.
For Piper and Leo [Brian Krause], their wedding at the end of last year was just the beginning of big things as they struggle to come to terms with their new life together, and the expectation of what to do next.
"The great thing about our characters is that everybody wanted them to be together so badly for so long and finally they are. And instead of it being boring, now it's actually still funny to watch them adjust to the different periods -- like being newlyweds and getting in the rut and thinking about having children," Holly says.
Oops, did she say there are children on the horizon?
"What we're dealing with now is the baby question, so we'll see where that goes. I don't even know, so I'm not telling!"
Alyssa's relationship with Cole (Australian actor Julian McMahon) also takes a twist which Alyssa, normally the one to mischievously let slip with all the goss, is determined to only good-naturedly hint at.
"Cole asks Phoebe something very important," Alyssa teases. "She doesn't know what to say in response to that question. Is that vague enough?"
Not to be left out, Rose says her character's loopy lifestyle is going to open up plenty of opportunities for great looking guys to guest star on the series, now that her elder screen sisters seem to be settling down with their own supernatural studs.
"They're using the Paige character to have fun and get a lot of different cute guys on the show every week -- and we like that," Rose laughs.
"Paige has a major lovelife. In about five episodes she manages to have, like, six boyfriends. I mean, she had a boyfriend who turned into the source of all evil. many boyfriends can, but this was very quick in their relationship. Usually it's towards the end when that happens."