When the new version of “Magnum P.I.” premiered last September, viewers were skeptical about several of the modern changes co-developers Peter M. Lenkov and Eric Guggenheim made to the television series. One of the major updates to the cast of characters was the gender switch of the character of Higgins, previously portrayed by actor John Hillerman in the 1980s version of the series. In 2018, Welsh actress Perdita Weeks was cast as Magnum’s (Jay Hernandez) adversary, Juliet Higgins.
Weeks is best known for her role as Mary Boleyn in the Showtime historical drama “The Tudors”; as Karen “Kira” Underwood in the feature film “Ready Player One”; and for starring in the horror film “As Above, So Below.” Although relatively unknown to American audiences, Weeks has been acting since age six and has performed in numerous British films and television series. Her turn as the unflappable Higgins has infused the contemporary version of “Magnum P.I.” with new life.
A NEW KIND OF MAJORDOMO
Not only does Weeks add a female role to the historically male cast, she also gives Higgins definite dimension. Her character is similar to the male version from the original — both are former members of MI6 and help Magnum solve many of his cases, and run Robin Masters’ estate, Pāhonu, with the help of the “Lads” Doberman pinscher’s Zeus and Apollo. Yet Higgins seems to have both a strong and a soft side — while she practices yoga daily, she also can fight like a powerhouse and is an expert hacker.
By the end of the first season of the series, the adversarial relationship Higgins and Magnum once shared seems to have ended. So much so, that Magnum has asked her to become his partner in his private investigation business. While Higgins has not said yes, her position as part of Magnum’s team, along with his best friends Rick (Zachary Knighton) and TC (Stephen Hill) was definitely solidified in the season finale “The Day It All Came Together.”
WEEKS ON HIGGINS
Like her character, Weeks practices yoga regularly and seems to enjoy playing such a physical role. In an interview with CineMovie, she admitted to doing many of her own stunts, while giving credit to the “great stunt team” on “Magnum P.I.” In the same interview, she describes Higgins as being “a kind of an everywoman. Someone said … ‘she is snooty,’ she’s actually not snooty she’s just responsible … “
Weeks definitely does not give the impression of being a snob, as Higgins has gotten more than just her hands dirty by helping Magnum. She’s been shot twice, masqueraded as a doctor, tried to protect the child of a client, and has even helped Magnum break into victim’s homes and several crime scenes to solve a case. It seems as if Higgins, like Magnum, has a big heart for the plight of the underdog.
Throughout season one, we learned a lot about Juliet Higgins, but the episode “The Day of the Viper” revealed even more about her mysterious past. When Higgins was in MI6 she and her lover and fellow agent, Richard Dane, were after the elusive assassin “The Viper.” Richard was murdered by the Viper just weeks before he and Higgins were going to leave MI6 and be married. After Richard’s death, Higgins went rogue in order to find and eliminate Viper and was disavowed by MI6.
Higgins’ former MI6 mentor Ian Pryce (Nigel Lindsay), comes to Hawaii to eliminate someone who can reveal his identity as “The Viper.” Once Higgins and Magnum realize the truth about Ian, Higgins is about to take revenge on Ian for “stealing her future,” with Richard, but Magnum talks her out of it, telling her that she’s not someone “who shoots a man in cold blood.” Of course, she does the right thing, and that is the Higgins we have grown to love.
PART OF MAGNUM’S OHANA
When Magnum first met Higgins, the two seemed to have nothing in common, but they are more alike than they care to admit. In “Blood on the Water” the two argue over the saying “You fall down seven times, you get up eight.” The saying is about having resilience and seems to summarize both their personalities. They have certainly fallen in their lives and yet have somehow managed to get back up time and time again.
Both Higgins and Magnum were given a lifeline by Robin Masters. He offered Higgins the position of majordomo — someone who would run his house and affairs in Hawaii after she lost the love of her life. He also offered Magnum the guest house and the use of his cars as a way to help Magnum who had just left the Navy after being held as a POW. But Magnum credits Higgins for helping him “get up eight” by pushing him to make a name for himself as a private investigator.
While at first, it seems as if Higgins does this to mainly get Magnum out of the guest house, but perhaps it was because she saw someone who was at the same point she was when she came to Hawaii— hurt and just a little lost. In the season finale, after Higgins helps Magnum rescue a POW and try to save the love of his life — she is definitely now a part of Magnum’s ohana. After all they have been through together, they will always have each other’s backs.