The long-delayed re-imagining of Red Dawn is finally hitting theaters over the Thanksgiving holiday. When the citizens of a city in Washington state find themselves the prisoners under enemy occupation by North Korea, a group of young patriots become determined to fight back, and band together to protect one another and take back their freedom. From director Dan Bradley, the film stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
At the film’s press day, actress Adrianne Palicki – who plays the tough, no-nonsense Toni – spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how excited she is that audiences will finally have a chance to see the film, going through a similar delay with the G.I. Joe sequel, how her Red Dawn training compared to her G.I. Joe: Retaliation training, how devastating the whole Wonder Woman experience was for her (with the TV show getting ordered to series and then having the plug pulled), working with co-star Chris Hemsworth, how she related to her character, and her thoughts on the possible Friday Night Lights movie. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Collider: Has it been frustrating for you, to have this film be so delayed, or is it just exciting that people will finally get the chance to see it?
ADRIANNE PALICKI: It’s very exciting that people are finally going to get the chance to see the film. But, as an actor, I realize that it really doesn’t come down to it being bad. It’s comes down to so many different factors that you have no control over. I’ve had a lot of things that have been delayed, in the recent past, so you’ve just gotta give it up and say, “Okay, whatever. I have no control over this. There’s a reason for it.” But, I’m so excited because there was a point in which they were talking about shelving this movie, and I’m so glad that that didn’t happen. I think it’s a really fun, good movie that people are seemingly to really enjoy.
You’re also going through the same thing with the delay for the G.I. Joe sequel. Are you just like, “Enough already!”?
PALICKI: I was like, “Really?! Oh, my god!” I felt like, “Am I a bad luck charm? I don’t understand!” But again, that movie really came down to the fact that they didn’t want to be sandwiched in between two huge blockbuster movies and get trampled. I don’t think it would have, but I understand them being safe. And they also wanted to make it 3D, genuinely. So, I was like, “Okay, I get it.” There’s a reason for everything, I guess.
Did your physical training on Red Dawn help prepare you for G.I. Joe: Retaliation and give you a better sense of what to expect?
PALICKI: For G.I. Joe, I had much more physical action because I’m playing a Navy SEAL. So, it’s not only about holding a gun. I had to do everything 100% correctly. We had Harry Humphries, who’s one of the best of the best. He’s a retired Navy SEAL, who’s one of the original Navy SEALs, and he trained us. I loved him, but that was a lot of work. But, I felt like I was two steps ahead of the game, having done all the work on Red Dawn. And then, I also did Wonder Woman and had hand-to-hand combat training for that. I felt like I was ready.
How difficult was it for you to go through what you did with the Wonder Woman TV show? Did you have one of those self-doubt moments about being in this business?
PALICKI: I have that, every day. I’m not going to lie. I’m serious. And then, I have to remind myself that I love what I do. If I get to do one job a year, or if I get to just do my job, even if people don’t get to see it, I’m doing my job and it’s making me happy. I’ve got to just keep fighting through it and do it, and hope that eventually people see what I’m doing. But, I was devastated. Believe me, I was inconsolable for a good two months. And then, I had to realize that I had a Wonder Woman costume fitted for my body. I got to play that part on film. Not many people get to say that, and that’s cool. Maybe I’ll get to do it again, in a bigger arena. Who knows?
Was part of the appeal of Red Dawn the fact that the girls really have to get in on the action with the boys?
PALICKI: I think that’s a realistic version of it. If that were actually happening, people wouldn’t slow down to be like, “Are you going to be okay handling that gun?” It’s a boy’s club, so you have to be a boy in the club, ultimately. You have to handle yourself. If you don’t, you’re going to die. I like that (director) Dan [Bradley] was totally about not making it about sexes. Everybody was the same.
Going into the training for this, did you think that you’d be able to do it with no problem and it just totally whipped your ass?
PALICKI: Yes, totally! I was like, “I’m athletic. I work out. I can do this. I’ve shot a gun.” No, it didn’t prepare me for what was there. Thankfully, I have a lot of willpower, so I was fine. I just had to keep going. Thankfully, we had a really great group of people training us, but it was hard. There were a lot of sore nights, getting into bathtubs.
Did the whole boot camp experience bond all of you guys together?
PALICKI: Yeah, because a lot of us hadn’t met each other before. We really were like the Wolverines, in real life. We were a bunch of people coming together who didn’t know each other. At that point, Chris [Hemsworth] had been through a month of training, so he was really our leader. They made it such that he had to lead us. By the end, he had to make the calls. So, we had this amazing bond, by the time we got to set, that shows in the movie.
What was it like to work with Chris Hemsworth and have the challenge of establishing a connection without much time to build a relationship?
PALICKI: It was hard because you really had to walk a thin line. You don’t want it to be a cheesy situation because it’s not the important thing. The importance of it is to humanize all the characters. That way, when somebody blows up, you cry because you actually care about them. It’s important to do that. But, with the romantic part, we were both very much about making that relationship work without making it ridiculous, and Dan was, too. We weren’t going to stop and look at each other longingly, in the midst of all this warfare. I think the few moments that are in the movie hopefully earn the ending that happens between the two of them.
What kind of audition process did you have to go through for this film?
PALICKI: I actually met with Dan Bradley before I went in, and we talked very in-depth. And then, I went in and tested with Chris, and I had the job. It was one of the easier processes I’ve ever gone through.
When you hear “remake” or “reboot,” do you immediately get weary of the project, or do you keep an open mind about it until you read the script?
PALICKI: For me, it’s like, “Okay, it’s a job.” Then, I look at it and go, “Is it good?” Also, I ask, “Is it a remake or a reboot?” They’re different. Also, a lot of what’s being made right now are remakes, let’s be honest. But, with this, we had to really go in and pay tribute to the original, but make it our own, as much as possible. They’re two very different movies. I don’t think you could do a ton of comparisons between the two.
Were there changes made to the characters, once you all were cast in the roles?
PALICKI: Yeah. We would sit down and have massive collaboration meetings where we would really wade through the script. Thankfully, Dan was very much about us knowing our place and what we wanted to do with the characters. He had so much faith in what we were doing. I’d say, “Toni would never say this line,” or “Toni would say this instead.” It was very open, and there were definitely changes made. There weren’t substantial changes, but there definitely changes made, once the cast came in.
Did you find Toni to be someone who you could pretty well relate to? Did it feel like you might deal with a situation like this, in the same way that she did?
PALICKI: Yeah, absolutely! I would hope so. I’d hope that’s how I would deal with it. Going in, to be honest with you, I thought of her a lot like Tyra with a gun. She’s this bad girl who, all of a sudden, has to choose what she has to do and she’s totally like, “Let’s fuckin’ do this! I’m going to make sure everybody is okay, and we’re going to lead this pack.” I would hope that I would do that! But, I don’t know, and I really don’t ever want to know!
What was it like to work with Dan Bradley, on set?
PALICKI: The acting stuff was new for him, but it was really fun to watch him in his element with all the action. He became this beast. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he knows exactly what needs to go where. When you watch the movie, for me, I couldn’t breathe during some of those action sequences. During that first car sequence, I really forgot to breathe. He just does a phenomenal job of that.
Are you hoping that the Friday Night Lights movie will eventually happen, and that you’ll be a part of it?
PALICKI: I’m really in the middle. I want it to happen, but at the same time, I’m like, “Leave well enough alone.” Selfishly, I want it to happen. But, for the show’s sake, I don’t want it to happen. I don’t know. We’ll see. There’s still talks, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Red Dawn opens in theaters on November 21st.