Gina Carano is widely considered to be the face of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. So it’s natural that she would be shocked when director Steven Soderbergh approached her about starring in his new movie Haywire. In it she plays Mallory Kane, a highly trained operative working for a government security contractor, sent on the most treacherous assignments around the world.
After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage in Barcelona, she discovers he has been murdered, and all the evidence points to her being the main suspect. Realizing that someone on her team has betrayed her, she is now on the run for her life.
Co-starring with Carano is Ewan McGregor, who portrays Kenneth, her boss, and Channing Tatum as Aaron, one her of team members who is now in pursuit of her. Carano, who had never acted before, not only manages to credibly beat up her on-screen male counterparts, she also effortlessly act with them scene after scene.
How did you get the role of Mallory?
I got the phone call after I lost my first fight to Christine Cyborg-Santos. I didn’t really want to speak to anybody at the time. I was bummed. I had a black eye, and my agent called me and he said that this director wanted to meet me. I didn’t know who he was. I don’t know anything about Hollywood. I’m still learning.
Steven called me, and I knew he did Traffic, and that was a movie that really touched me. So I decided to pick him up at the train station in San Diego. We had a four hour lunch and at the end of it he offered me the movie. So, there was no auditioning. I don’t know what that is like yet.
Did you have to adjust your workout when you were working full time on the movie?
Absolutely, they had me getting up at five o’clock, and then I did three hours of stunts, and then three hours of Mossad secret service training with guns and boot camp, and getting yelled at, and getting stalked and stalking other people. And then after that I did strength and conditioning.
There wasn’t any acting training until probably the week before [we started shooting]. I had the script with me and I had so much anxiety about it. I didn’t even know what to do with the damn thing. And then finally the week before, they were like, ‘Let’s try reading some lines with this acting coach.’
What was it like shooting the fight scenes with Channing and Ewan?
These guys wanted to do everything, from the smallest things off camera. I showed up with the stunt crew and we coordinated the fights together. These [actors] have busy schedules, and they would come in whenever they could and learn. Ewan and I learned our fight scene in two days.
My fight scene with Ewan was hard. It was a long fight scene, and they put it on sand, and in the water, adding those crazy elements to it. But the actors wanted to do everything. I think Steven Soderbergh did a good job surrounding me with some of the best people he could in a film.
As a women, what was it like to kick the crap out of two of the sexiest guys in the world?
I loved every moment of it. It was really a beautiful experience, and they made it ten times more of a beautiful experience than I could have imagined. Everybody around me on set was like, ‘It doesn’t usually go like this, it’s a once in a life time thing.’
How did you perceive action films before doing this movie?
I’m definitely not a judgmental person. I fight for a living and I think every fighter probably watches action scenes, and they think what they would have done and what is realistic.
Everybody has been trying to compare me, and take away from certain females that are skinny and beautiful and great at acting. I don’t want that comparison. Does she have to do that? She’s gorgeous. Does she have to go and put herself out there in these physical roles? No, and I respect that about these women.
They are good at acting and they can do anything they want, but they still do these types of physical roles. It’s a beautiful thing. What I’m bringing is just whatever I can to make the fights look [good] with my own flavor and my own personality.
How do you feel about not fighting again and pursuing an acting career instead?
Of course I would love to do more acting. I am not trying to force myself into any situation though.
What about giving up fighting?
You know, I haven’t been able to say that yet.
What did you learn from working with this cast?
I honestly have to say this is one the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. I got to travel to places I’ve never been. I got opened up to a world I’ve never seen, and realized how big this world can be and how small it can be. I was surrounded by the most beautiful people.
I have always seen these people on television, but being around them and knowing I haven’t done this before, I’ve never been so vulnerable in my life. I woke up every day and I felt like I was on some strange drug of adrenaline. I almost didn’t want to see the movie, because I felt every part of it. It was my first time.
Would you like to become an action star?
To be honest, I think a lot of people have been waiting to see how this does and my performance. It’s not the easiest world to break into. But we have ideas, and we have scripts, and people who do want to work, but as we all know it’s not the easiest thing to get a film made.
What about Haywire 2?
As far as Haywire 2, that’s all up to Soderbergh. I think everyone is just waiting for this film to come out.
Regardless, I am really excited to get onto the other side of it and just land somewhere.