While Alice Braga is very famous in Brazil as she’s stared in many movies in her native country, she’s started making inroads in America as she’s one of the leads in I Am Legend, Redbelt, Repo Men and Crossing Over. On top of those films, she’s the only female lead in director Nimród Antal’s Predators, as she plays Isabelle – a Brazilian SAD black ops sniper.
When I was on the set of Predators last December, I was able to participate in a roundtable interview with Braga. She talked about who she plays, training to play a sniper, what’s it like carrying around the gun, and I asked her thoughts on the two different endings to I Am Legend. It’s a great interview that you can check out after the jump:
Since some of you might not have seen the Predators trailer, I suggest watching it before reading the interview.
Like I always do…you can either listen to the interview as an audio file by clicking here or you can read the transcript below. Predators gets released July 9, 2010.
So jumping right on in can you talk a little bit about who you play in the film?
Alice Braga: I play a character named Isabelle. She’s a sniper. She’s…we can say a tough cookie. She’s…I can say she’s sweet inside but tough outside but just to do her craft more than anything. It’s funny, Nimrod [Antal], the director—he gave me a little book that talks about sniper. It’s kind of a manual that snipers use in the Army, and it talks a lot about how they prepare and what are the qualities that a sniper must have and one of the qualities like being really focused and you cannot be emotional. You need to be really like…you cannot take emotion from your work. You cannot look at the other as…you need to think about the target and all that. So it’s hard to kind of say because, you know, specific things about the sniper but mainly knowing that information it tells a lot about how a sniper is and that’s who she is. At the same time, strong woman. So trying to balance her career and her personality. Does that make sense? What I just said?
Can you talk about being the only woman character in the ensemble cast and then plus being the only women in the cast on-set?
Braga: It’s awesome. It’s really cool. No, I’m kidding. It’s really nice because it’s only 8 characters and my character funny enough is the one that is always trying to grab everyone together and like reuniting everyone and stop the fights and saying that we have strength in numbers instead of being alone fighting these creatures, together we can be stronger. It’s really interesting because the boys—I call them my boys, I call them the boys—they’ve been amazing with me. They protect me and we create things together. I kind of sometimes I’m like I don’t want to be…I need girls around me because I’ve found myself like talking about cars and about girls and I’m like I need girls around me. But it’s really wonderful. As an actress it’s been a great experience. I’m having fun. I did different films like City of God there’s a lot of boys around me as well. So it’s been really cool. It’s funny, like interesting enough there’s not many girl in the crew. In Hawaii was even less. It was only me and the script supervisor. And here we still have a little bit more but still like a lot of men. It’s fun. I’m loving every second of it, I think. We’ve created a unit that is really strong and I think we kind of brought that as actors and as characters I think we got that unit of it.
Are there any romantic elements in the film?
Braga: Who knows? (laughter) I’m going to leave that for you to think about it.
After I Am Legend are you used to running from creatures and fighting creatures and working with creatures?
Braga: I learned a lot from him I must say but the great thing about this one is that we, as you guys can see, that there’s some of the creatures are dressed so from I Am Legend was running from Teletubbies, which is kind of the guys in suits with dots and I’m like, how does it work? Okay and then I looked at the pictures. So that’s the difference, but interesting enough it’s a different situation. I think I Am Legend had a different quality as a drama because it’s something that happened to society and our human beings that mutated into something else and that, I think, it brought a lot for me and Will to work on. Different than this one. It’s a different world and it’s a different, you know, kind of creatures that we’re running from. But definitely it was…I learned a lot from that to bring it to you, for sure.
As a sniper, it’s interesting because it seems like, you know, the predators can captured all these like big tough macho guys who are like military folk or fighters or whatever, but as a sniper you have a very specific tool which is the gun that allows you to kill. So, does your character sort of have a disadvantage on the planet of not having her sniper rifle with her?
Braga: I have my sniper…yeah I do all the time. It’s 14 pounds during the whole shoot. It’s big like…I’m really strong right now.
So the predators let you keep it?
Braga: Yeah, because we….yeah we start the film like with our own guns and stuff and then from there the story starts developing, but I have…each of us have their own thing as the characters bring, so I was lucky enough to get that. It’s funny that you said that because normally it would be a guy—a sniper—and that’s why I liked that they scripted it’s a girl because a girl, as I was saying about emotion, girls are really emotional. We have period. Once you have period, you get emotional. It’s like how come a girl is the sniper of the team, but it’s really nicely balanced that. I’ve never done a character like this and it’s been a challenge because you need to find that strength, but at the same time you cannot lose her own being. And it’s kind of been interesting to balance that and also as a character how to stand up and face—there are 7 guys that are just making fun. Like the first few pages of the film, of course, the characters are like calling her or playing with her or taking her for granted or all of those things. So I think it’s interesting how she’d get that strength, not for women for but the character more than anything. Just playing not as a woman or a guy but playing a strong human being.
Does she get to use the predators’ guns at some point? Does she get a hold of their weapons?
Braga: Who knows?
Did you learn to really shoot?
Braga: She taught me really well by the way (laughter).
I could tell.
Braga: No, I’m kidding.
Did you learn to really shoot?
Braga: Yes, we didn’t have much time. We didn’t have a boot camp or something, but as soon as we got in Hawaii we went to …we had Mike, that is the prop guy. I forgot his last name…I asked him but….I’ll ask Tony to give it to you guys. He’s the prop master—one of the guys from props. And he used to be from Army. What’s his name?
Braga: Panevics. He’s our armor. And he’s a great guy. He’s a sweetheart and he’s been great for me. Like I call him my teacher because my relationship with the gun like we were talking he taught me a lot about it. Like a sniper spent hours and hours just crawling and like or hours looking for the target and all these little details he gave me. And when we got in Hawaii, we did a whole day of just shooting. We couldn’t do every day but that day I kind of learned everything and every time we had off I would like work with it. Especially that I had to train my arm and do a lot of not weight lifting but I went to the gym because first day of shooting I lift and 5 seconds my hands were like…it’s 14 pounds. It’s really hard to keep, you know, to aim at something and the camera is here and you need to aim and then suddenly you start shaking. So we kind of built that where the arm goes because they really like go and it’s there sometimes it was off. So we kind of trained that. The shooting we trained not much but we did train just for us to be aware of the noise and all that. But mainly we focused on being like looking good as a craft, so I was really worried about looking nice because if a sniper sees it I hope he can look and say, “Okay she did a nice job. Maybe misses this and misses that,” but just respectful to what they do. It’s a hard profession.
Can you talk a little bit about fighting some of these super Predators?
Braga: It’s cool. It’s really nice. It’s interesting, I still have like some scenes to shoot but it’s interesting that once you feel that “Oh my God, I’m in a Predator film” it is kind of, you know, everyone knows the Predators and all that. So the first time I saw it I was I was kind of wow, this is interesting. This is cool. And especially because that I’m short it’s really scary because I’m a small girl. I’m 5’4” I think and the creatures are probably…I don’t know how tall they are. So it’s been cool. It’s been really nice. The good thing about being snipers, they don’t need to have direct contact with it.
I was going to ask you about that. Obviously the set-up would be sniper: long-distance, but inevitably in every movie the sniper ends up very close to the villain and has to engage physically.
So can you talk a little bit about preparing…I’m just going to go out there and say it happens. So could you talk a little bit about preparing for say like a battle like that?
Braga: It’s funny, we’re still shooting so I haven’t gotten into it as much as the other characters did. Mainly the boys, they shoot a lot with it. I haven’t done much yet, but because of that I really went into the gym for this film. I did a lot of running. I didn’t lift weights but I just wanted to be strong that if I needed to do repetition for a few scenes or fighting scenes or trying to kick something and be ready for it, I would but we haven’t shot many. I think the boys can answer you better like Louis [Ozawa Changchien] or Walton Goggins…he did already so they can say they had fun, I think, with the characters.
I’m also curious, with I Am Legend there are two endings to that movie.
Do you have a preference on which of those endings you enjoy more?
Braga: It’s funny because we shot one and then after a long time we shot the other one. And it was a really different film. And when it came back I was kind of thinking that it’s really poetic that he dies and it kind of goes to what Omega Man was and all that. It’s hard to choose one. I had fun shooting the first one that we shot because there was a lot of meaning of, you know, the monster. It became Neville’s character because he was trying to bring to life the creature that had their own lives already even if they mutated…does that make sense what I’m saying? So it’s hard to pick one. I understand why they chose the one where he died but I hear from a lot of fans that they prefer the first—the original ending that they could see on the Internet. It’s hard for me to choose one. I like both. I feel that the original one, it brought in a way a different input for Neville’s character. A realization as a human being I think. But dying is a heroic thing so –for making films.
You were saying that in this movie sort of every, not every character, but some of the characters have similarities or threads or counter parts in the original Predator film. There’s also one woman in the original…
Braga: Predator yeah.
Did you go back and look at her performance at all or take anything from it—the lines or mannerisms or…?
Braga: No, funny enough I say the Predator film before doing my audition when they called me to audition for it, and then I saw that just understand exactly what they wanted for my character and all that. But then I put that apart and I never saw it again. I didn’t want to keep like trying to get something from it. I think it would come on the script. If that boss would write something, but then I just wanted to focus on what we were doing and pretending that nothing ever existed because our characters don’t know, so they don’t know that the boss [inaudible]. But yeah, so it’s just that I feel like it was great to see it just to get an inspiration and see Schwarzenegger doing “Get to the chopper!” It was really cool. But I think I prefer like thinking that I know those creatures because the character doesn’t know much.
I hesitate to even ask this but in some of the things that I’ve read about your character there’s something of a secret to her personality. You know what I’m talking about?
Okay So how much do you bring that into the rest of…playing it through the rest of the film…without …?
Braga: Without showing, yeah. I always try with my characters always having something inside and kind of understanding where she comes from. I think like every actor but hints of it during the film that maybe people are going to say “Why, why?” and the suddenly “Oh, I get it.” I don’t over think it too much and I’m not trying to play it too much all the time, but I just hope I can make the journey. I think in films like this it’s important that the journey gets complete. They say in drama schools like the hero journey or something like that, so I don’t know. I try to. I’m having fun with it. Let’s see how it comes out like it’s hard because once you’re doing action films there’s so much going on that we need to put ourselves into it, but let’s see. I hope you guys enjoy.
For more Predators coverage: