SDCC 2010: Jena Malone Exclusive Interview SUCKER PUNCH

     July 26, 2010

Saturday evening at Comic-Con, I had the opportunity to catch up with Jena Malone (Into the Wild) to discuss her role in Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (check out my interview from Comic-Con with Zack and Deb here). In my opinion, the talented young actress has yet to appear in a bad film and, after meeting her, I’m convinced she is the real deal. Both eloquent and insightful, Malone elaborated on what it meant for her to appear in an action/fantasy film that is primarily female-driven and talks about the challenges of acting out Snyder’s fantastical script. She also describes the intense training she and the rest of the girls underwent in preparation for their roles and, in the process, made me feel like a huge slob for not being able to string together consecutive pull-ups.

While short, this is a solid interview and perfect if you’re hoping to find out more about both Malone and the mildly insane (but really, it’s set in an insane asylum) Sucker Punch. Hit the jump for the full transcription.

Due to its brevity, I’ve elected not to provide bulleted highlights. That said, I don’t believe there is any filler and the entire read is informative.  Here’s the full transcript:

Collider: I’ll like to start off by asking how you got involved with the project initially.

Jena Malone: I auditioned like I think everyone else. I think he was just trying to find the right energy by bringing five women together in the room. I auditioned once and then I came in again and met with Zack and that was it. I feel that as soon as we met each other we were like “This is going to be amazing.”

So what was your reaction when you first read the script?

Malone: It was hard to know because I feel like so much of it is visually in his mind in the sense of how these worlds come together, you know like, with the music, and there are so many different characters that aren’t necessarily on the page. It was a little bit hard to grasp some of it but the most amazing thing that was easy to grasp was that every character was such a three-dimensional character which sort of breaks the genre. I feel that within the genre people stop asking the questions that you normally ask with a film so you end up with very one-dimensional characters and I don’t think Zach was interested in doing that at all. He kept asking all of the important questions and he just kept building, building, and building these characters. These women are vulnerable, sensitive, angry, violent, beautiful, and kick-ass. You know, as women are. We are so many different things and it’s so beautiful to see that on the page. Particularly written by two men, you know, they got it. They’ve been watching.

Speaking of being angry, violent, and beautiful, what is it like being in this gritty, violent film with a primarily female-driven cast? Like you said, its kind of outside of genre and very original. Was that something that appealed to you?

Malone: For sure. Anytime a film asks you to do a thing that you’ve never done in real life or that you’ve thought about it’s amazing. But when it asks you to do twenty of those things you are just kind of flabbergasted. You’re like, “Really? You believe I can actually do these things that are in the script. Be these different women and also be a real human amongst all these crazy extremes? This is really what you are asking?” It was just amazing and I feel that as a young woman it’s a really beautiful thing when people put that belief in you: that you can actually wield a gun respectably, honorably, and with power; that you can actually defeat twenty men in four minutes. They trained us to have that confidence and it’s really amazing.

That’s a great segue into my next question, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the training you had to do for the film. I heard that it was pretty intense and a lot was expected of you physically.

Malone: Yeah. Definitely. Emily, Abby, and I did three months. Jaime and Vanessa came in at the end of the second month and we just kept training for eight months. We had amazing Navy Seals that were basically our physical trainers and our nutritionists. Then we had Damon Caro’s amazing stunt team. We would do four to six hours of martial arts in the morning then we would have a forty-five minute juice break followed by an hour and a half of physical strength training. In the first week I felt like Jello. I mean literally. I didn’t even realize I could do these things, but by the end of it I was doing like five pull-ups in a row and doing dead-lifts of like 235 lbs. I became, like, a complete and utter beast. I just was craving it, you know?

Yeah, there’s no way I’m doing five pull-ups in a row…

Malone: Well, I probably can’t do them now. I could probably do two.

That’s two more than me. I know we’re short on time, so this will be my last question. The general public doesn’t know a lot about the film right now, so I would like to talk about the character you play, Rocket. Can you elaborate on her and describe her arc in the film?

Malone: Sure. Well, she’s a mental patient in this institution. Her older sister, Sweetpea (Abbie Cornish), is also there. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) comes into the situation at the institution and Rocket gets sort of the lucky job of showing her around and showing her the ropes. Soon, I get drawn into this mysterious stranger who comes to join us and she has these escape plans that are also very tantalizing to us because there’s so much, you know, being forced against us that I sort of corral our friends in the institute. We try to escape and it’s basically, I mean in a really odd summary, it’s almost like a “prison break” film, with females.

Joining Malone in the film is an ensemble cast featuring: Emily Browning (The Uninvited), Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Jamie Chung (Sorority Row), Abbie Cornish (Stop-Loss), Carla Gugino (Watchmen), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), and Scott Glenn (W.). Sucker Punch opens March 25th, 2011.

Also, read Matt’s review of the Sucker Punch panel/debut trailer at Comic-Con here.  And here’s our interview with Zack and Debbie Snyder at Comic-Con.

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