Co-starring alongside Dwayne Johnson in Justin Lin’s upcoming Fast & Furious 6 is the tough and talented Gina Carano (Haywire). Carano plays Agent Hobbs’ partner Riley, who both team up with Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew in order to take down an elite group of militarily-trained specialists led by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Carano took the time to talk to us about her experience working on her first big action franchise movie, fight choreography, and learning from director Lin. She also talked about how her experience in Haywire has changed her life, her future goals in her movie career and her upcoming film, In the Blood.
Also starring Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot, Fast & Furious 6 opens May 24th. Hit the jump to read the full interview.
Gina Carano: Oh, my first car was a Chevy truck and I couldn’t tell you what year it was, but … my papa – my grandfather – gave my mom a truck when she was in high school and then my older sister got the same truck, so by the time I got the truck … I mean, we’re talking pathetic little radio with an antenna and the windshield wipers didn’t work, but it was painted baby blue and it had my name on the side of it. My papa didn’t want to spoil us too much so he tried to keep it real. [laughs]
Yeah, same thing with me. I had the hand-me-down car that was probably older than I was.
Carano: Yeah and then my little sister gets the old, old-school Mercedes that was my mom’s college car and I’m like, “Oh, you guys just treat the middle child like that, huh?”
After your experience with Haywire, how did that change your Hollywood exposure? Did you start getting more calls? What sort of calls were you getting?
Carano: It’s a film that piqued people’s interest and I think people still, even after Haywire, were a little gun-shy, but they still wanted to talk about it. They definitely wanted to talk a lot about it. So, when I got the call for Fast and Furious 6, that was, “Okay, now I can go from doing something like Haywire with director Steven Soderbergh and take that experience and then go into a huge franchise.” Really, there’s nothing that can teach you more than experiencing all this.
After that, I did In the Blood, and that was directed by John Stockwell. I went straight from London to Puerto Rico and only had a day and a half off from shooting Fast 6 to filming In the Blood, and it was just a four-month, intense, crazy shoot that I learned so much about myself acting-wise. I was so excited to be like, “Okay, I think I really want to get more into this, I really want to explore this, because if I can do what I have done so far in such a short amount of time, I want to see what else is inside me.” It’s challenging. Of course, I feel like I can always do better with action and I always want to push the envelope there as long as I can because I’m a physical person and I love expressing myself physically, but I’m also, on the very flipside, an extremely emotional person. I like watching the relationships and the chemistry and the relatability … seeing somebody do it just right, just like if I’d see a fight scene in a movie, it’s like, “Okay, that person’s moving correctly and throwing their punches correctly,” and so, I want to portray that in acting. I do love entertaining and I love characters; it’s one of the reasons why I’m going into this with a positive belief in myself and I like this more than fighting right now, because in fighting, you’re representing yourself. In acting, you get to explore such an artistic side with different characters to research and learn and explore different things inside yourself and I do that anyway, so I might as well be doing something that I already do, as in a second nature to me, on film.
Fast and Furious 6 obviously has a lot of great action, but it has good character turns and relationship building. We’ve got to talk about your fight scenes in this movie because they’re brutal, they’re fantastic and they’re actually refreshing; it’s nice to see the ladies getting involved in the action in these films. You have two big fight scenes with Michelle Rodriguez; can you talk about how you approached the choreography and rehearsals?
Carano: I think with such a massive film like this and knowing that they wanted the fight scene between two women to be great, they hired such a wonderful stunt coordinator and we were training, it seems like, forever. As soon as I got to London, it was fight rehearsal after right rehearsal. Michelle was great; she showed up to every one. It’s kind of interesting. You never know who’s going to be standing in front of you, how intimidated they’re going to be or how insecure they’re going to be with acting or with action. They don’t know me, either. All they know is my past of being a professional fighter, so what kind of ideas have they built up in their head about me, not being able to control my punches or getting frustrated, the cliché that people think about fighters. But me and Michelle had such a great energy and there were no egos involved and I think we really took care of each other and made it okay to have a couple bumps and bruises. You can’t take it too seriously because this is what we’re doing. Nobody was hurt; I really pride myself on that. I don’t think I’ve ever hurt anybody unless I intended to. [laughs]
I had a blast doing this. The rehearsals were intense. We went over the fight scenes over and over and over, me and Michelle did, until we were absolutely sick of it. That made it, on the day, so much easier to perform, like a dance that we had done over and over and over and on the day it was just like, “Oh!” And you put your energy in there that you’ve been holding up until the day and it was just such a beautiful way to do business and to work. It’s just like studying for a test and making the test easy; it makes it a lot of fun, especially when people enjoy it.
From script to screen, about how much changed? Was there a lot of improvisation on set or was it pretty much as scripted? Do you know if any of your scenes didn’t make the final cut?
Carano: That was really interesting because when I did that Haywire experience, what was written in the script with the revisions and everything is what was shot. Fast and Furious 6 was constantly, constantly changing and just constantly a new thing every single day, so you really had to just expect that. I wish I could say from the first conversation I had to the last conversation I had what transpired, but I think Justin Lin is a great, great director because he can take something on such a massive scale and have that many huge characters on and off the screen and he can manage it with a smile on his face and keep the positivity up and really keep everybody working. Not only that, but he pushed the action up on a whole new level, which is the escapism that people love to see, and he’s so passionate and excited about it.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what Justin Lin does next, because he takes such care. I heard they had to pretty much pry the movie out of his hands just to get it shown in London because he was just so meticulous and there’s just so much respect to someone who takes that time and energy.
You get to do a bit of a tag team with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Can you talk about your experience shooting with him on the movie?
Carano: Yeah, he’s just a really wonderful man. I’ve heard that about him, people say, “I just love working with Dwayne,” and it was exactly that. He’s such a pleasure to be around and, at the same time, for me, knowing where he’s been and gone and kind of having a similar – not exactly the same, but a relatability to that – I have so much respect for that. Then, his work ethic and his professionalism was just … I have never seen a man work so hard. He was up at 3AM working out, then going to set, being a lead/main character, doing so much output. I was like, “When do you have time for yourself?” He’s really like a Superman, like a super-being. I don’t know how he gets it all done. I was inspired, because if the man can do all of that and keep his head on his shoulders and stay professional, then it just raises the bar for everybody around him. And having that be my second movie and standing next to him, watching how he works, it was really cool. He surrounds himself with good people from his hair and make-up to his bodyguards, they’re some of my favorite people to this day, I just love being their friends. He surrounds himself with really good people and keeps really grounded and I can’t tell you how much that means in this business. I really respect how he’s created his own company in and of itself.
So, I just wanted to clarify: you said The Rock has bodyguards, is that right?
Carano: [laughs] Yeah, The Rock has bodyguards. Yeah, they’re soldiers, they’re ex-soldiers that you don’t really want to mess with. They’re sitting there watching us play soldiers, so if I had a question I’d go up to one of them and be like, “How would you do this?” You feel really safe when they’re around, they’re just good solid guys.
Did you guys do a lot of working out together during your downtime?
Carano: No, not really, not at all. I like to do what I do, so I found a nice gym in London and I found a Muay Thai guy so I could hit some pads. That’s kind of like yoga to me, it balances me out and keeps me normal. I think that because all of these guys have worked together so much, they all bring their own people and their families, so coming in as a new person … I think somebody asked me once, “Where’s your entrouage?” And I was like, “Nope. I don’t have one. I kinda roll solo.” Everybody had an entourage. But I can find a home because I’ve pretty much been living out of my suitcase for the last ten years, so I can find a home anywhere. I know I can find Muay Thai and martial arts anywhere so I can always find a nice gym to help get that going. I think that everybody has worked together so much but everybody has their own lives when they go home at the end of the day, whereas Haywire we stuck together as a group and that’s the lovely thing about doing a new movie and having a fresh movie, but at the same time it’s understandable that people have worked together, it’s like, “Okay, we’re here to get the job done.”
Can you talk about your experience filming in London?
Carano: I just absolutely fell in love with London. I had a nice apartment and I’d go out and sit on the balcony and look around. I come from a family of little fashionistas who absolutely, their dream was to come to London and they came and visited me and just really soaked it in. It’s something that, you have to remind yourself that it’s something not everybody gets to do. I’m so fortunate to have done it and be able to invite my sister and my cousins out and say, “Hey, come stay with me in London.” It’s something that they have always wanted to see and really something special to them because they’re so fascinated and London has such great opportunities. You get used to taking the Tube stations and taking away trips to shop. The people are great, everybody’s relaxed and there are such interesting creative artists here. It was really a good experience for me and I really love it here.
You already mentioned In the Blood. You’re also attached to the Adi Shankar project, which I believe is the female version of The Expendables. Are you still involved with that and can you give us an update?
Carano: With that one, it’s kind of a work in progress and I think that as soon as I read the script I’d be able to answer that more thoroughly. I think it’s important to find a director who has a good vision behind it and, like, from Sucker Punch – I absolutely love that movie. So I take that and I say, “Okay, it’s a bunch of females and it’s very fantasy driven,” but if you take a couple of women who are very realistic and could actually pull off some amazing fights, maybe put a darker twist to the story to it and make it very cool and believable, that would be something I’d of course be interested in. There’s something about … it’s lovely to work with guys, but it’s a whole other educational experience working with women. It is a blast because you learn so much because you’re on the same page and it’s like, “Well, you’re a woman and you’re saying this and you’re doing this and we’re in the same profession, so we’re learning a lot from each other!” I went through this working with guys and I absolutely love learning stuff like that and having that camaraderie with someone of the same sex. So, if a good visionary wants to jump on board with that and I see their vision correctly and I like it and I like the script, I would absolutely do it but I have to read the script first.
Briefly, Steve interviewed you previously for Haywire and he brought up the topic of Wonder Woman. With all of the recent superhero movies that are coming out, have you done any auditions for any superhero roles recently?
Carano: No, I haven’t done any auditions. There have been talks about some different characters. That’s a dream to put on a costume and be a whole other level of character, but I think that … we’re looking at a whole bunch of different things right now. There’s always the possibility that some day I will be a comic book character that I’ll play and I’m not sure who that’s going to be. It would be very fun and fascinating. We’ll just have to see where my career is going to go. There’s so much I want to do. I love emotions, I love drama, I love comedy and I also want to take action up to another level, I love comics. I’m just reading some scripts and putting myself out there and seeing what’s attractive to me. We’ll kind of figure out where this goes. It’s going to be interesting and keeps it very exciting, I’ll tell you! [Laughs]
Are there any dream roles that you would want to play if the opportunity came up?
Carano: You know, when I was a teenager, it was Pride and Prejudice. It was Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. I know that really sounds ridiculous. But that’s already been redone, Keira Knightley did that. That was when I was young. I really like the idea of creating something new that’s fresh and something that people don’t understand what they’re watching. I like to break down barriers and I think that Hollywood is doing the same thing over and over. I want to do something new and say, “Let’s evolve as artists!”
Carano: [Laughs] Alright! That’s what I’m sayin!
Do you have any other upcoming roles or projects you want to fill us in on?
Carano: In the Blood will be coming out later this year. It’s being looked at by distributors and there’s a bunch of incoming calls on it. I really felt like I tapped into something good there. I feel like I have potential to do so much more, but I feel like I showed a different side of myself that anybody who has been following my career is going to be extremely intrigued by. I look forward to hearing reactions because I just saw a little teaser for it the other day. It’s nice to watch something and say, “Oh my gosh, I did that!” I’m so glad that somebody caught that on film. I’m excited for people to start learning about In the Blood, and I think that when people see that, they’ll start to see how serious I am about where I’m going right now. But people haven’t seen it yet; they’ve only seen trailers for Fast and Furious 6 and Haywire and I understand that, but I’m looking forward to people seeing In the Blood.