Best known for her role as the spoiled passenger Shannon Rutherford on the ill-fated Oceanic flight 815 on TV’s popular series Lost, Maggie Grace has gone on to appear in The Fog, Jane Austin’s Book Club, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2 and the TV miniseries Taken, and its upcoming sequel.
In her new movie Lockout, she portrays Emilie Warnock, the daughter of the President of the United States, who is leading a humanitarian mission to MS One, an experimental prison in space where 500 of the most dangerous criminals on planet Earth have been kept in an artificial sleep.
When the inmates riot and take Emilie hostage, it is up to an ex-government agent named Snow (Guy Pearce), who has been imprisoned himself for a crime he didn’t commit, to rescue her in return for his freedom.
What appealed to you about this project?
When I first read the script, I kept laughing out loud. I loved it immediately. It reminded me of films I loved back when action movies were really funny.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it has a sense of fun and it’s irreverent, and it has some great one-liners.
Can you describe who Emilie is?
Emilie Warnock has been raised in a fairly sheltered, regimented sort of vacuum. She has a lot of stepping up to the plate to do in this film. I think it’s Snow’s irreverence that pushes her buttons.
What’s the coolest thing about Guy Pearce?
I think he’s just wildly intelligent. Personally, I’m going to attribute a large part of Memento to Guy. Obviously it was an incredible team, but I can really see how his mind works and there’d be very few people that could handle that movie the way he did.
I so appreciated Guy’s humor doing this. We were outside of Belgrade and they are long days and you feel like you’re underground and daylight seems strange because you’ve been in this spaceship for so long, and he’s the ideal person to be in the trenches with. He’s relentlessly cheerful.
As the story unfolds you discover the Emilie is very tough. Was there a moment in the film where you thought, ‘This is where we’re telling the audience this girl is tougher than you thought she was?’
I think the gunshot wound. She certainly handles that with more [strength] than most of us could muster. She’s a very capable young woman.
Just because you’ve lived a life of privilege doesn’t mean you’re ill-equipped to handle these kind of situations. History certainly has quite a few young women who were able to bring it to the table.
Can you talk about the physical challenges doing this?
We arrived in Serbia a little bit early to start training with the wirework and do combat [fighting], so that was really helpful, and also a lot of fun. Probably the closest I’ll get to being a trapeze artist.
In fact, the first couple of days were so much fun they edited together a little clip reel that I was able to e mail back home, which was really fun. [I did] back flips, all sorts of things which didn’t really come up in the fight sequence, but just in case.
You have those moments where it’s like, ‘I can’t believe I’m this lucky, I get to do this every day for work. This is my office. This crazy soundstage with all these green screens, and my own little trapeze show.’ It’s pretty fun.
It’s really interesting that the film can get away with the male lead punching the female lead in the face and not hate him immediately. When you first read that what was your reaction?
I thought, ‘I can’t believe they’re going to get away with this!’ (she laughs) There’s an adversarial but very sexually charged tension between them, and she does hit him back to be fair, and harder, I’d like to add!
Did you always want to be an actress or did you trip and fall into this profession?
I never understand those trip and fall stories. I don’t know how that works. I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, and I’m pretty proud of it.
I’m from Worthington, Ohio, and I was madly in love with the theatre when I was a kid and joined the local Shakespeare troop. But it never occurred to me that I could be paid for it until I was probably fourteen and I went to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
I was pretty much in bliss and I realized that these were adults who were getting paid to act. It became an option then.
Do you feel your role in Lost really changed your life?
Yeah, for sure. I was twenty and it was the first time I’d moved away from home and moved away from my parents. That was kind of my college years.
You’re also in the Twilight franchise. Are you recognized around the world for that?
I think it really sends it home for me when I’m traveling and it’s a common ground anywhere I go. I can be at a dinner party in China with friends and there is someone who wants to talk about Lost or Twilight.
I totally understand what it’s like to embrace characters and feel like you know them, and I love that. I love that I get to be a part of things that are a pop culture reference for a generation, that’s pretty crazy.