Irish dancing prepped ‘24’ star for tough chick role

Annie Wersching as Agent Renee Walker in FOX's "24"

On FOX’s smash action series “24,” Agent Renee Walker kicks terrorist butt alongside Jack Bauer – but not without a little help from “Riverdance.”

Annie Wersching, who plays the tough-as-nails agent often involved in physical combat and torture, credits her Irish dance training for preparing her for the demanding role.

“A huge part of Irish dance is balance, which is so good for any kind of combat -- just being aware of your body," Wersching, 32, told the New York Post. "I did other kinds of dancing as well, and I was an athlete, so I think all of that [helps]."

The St. Louis native was introduced to Irish dancing by her Irish-born babysitter. "My father was sick when I was little, and we had a woman, a nanny-type, who was from Ireland," she said. "Her daughter was in Irish dancing so she put me in it, and in the summertime, every weekend was filled with traveling somewhere to dance in competitions."

Little did Wersching know that her kicks and leaps in Irish jigs and reels would lead her to fight fictional terrorists on TV.

Originally, the actress longed to do musical theater. But instead of perfecting her song-and-dance routine, Wersching is participating in dangerous stunts, jumping off boats in the middle of the ocean and even being buried alive.

"I had a full mound of dirt completely covering me, so that was a little scary," she said. "The actual tricky part to shoot was the unburying, because there had to be enough dirt on top of me to dig through. I was completely buried up to my neck for 45 minutes, then they would quickly put the plastic over my face, put some dirt on it, and then shoot."

It seems that for now, the red-headed beauty has officially traded in her Irish dancing shoes for terrorists and guns. Wersching begins filming the next season of “24” at the end of May, and though she misses dancing, she’s going to enjoy her tough-as-nails persona for as long as it lasts.

She said: "I just love about this job that I experience all these things I would never do in my normal life. When is that ever gonna happen again? I'm completely gung ho and into it. Let's see if I still act the same way five years from now."

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