In Marvel’s latest superhero epic Thor, actress Jaimie Alexander plays the Goddess of War, Sif. When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is banished to Earth by his own father (Anthony Hopkins), for arrogance that proves him unworthy of the throne of Asgard, Sif and the Warriors Three seek him out upon learning that his own brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is the one who set the wheels in motion.
In person, Jaimie Alexander is both beautiful and with a presence that makes it obvious why she often takes on roles of very strong women. During a recent exclusive interview with Collider, she talked about how she was cast in the role after a Skype conversation with director Kenneth Branagh, that her wrestling background and her time on the TV series Kyle XY helped with the physical aspects of Sif, how she trained alongside the boys for the film, how they had to travel in blacked-out golf carts from stage to stage while filming so that no one got a glimpse of their costumes, that she would love to further explore the character in a sequel, and how she would love to play another Marvel character, X-23. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
JAIMIE ALEXANDER: Kind of, yeah. I had an audition for it. I was probably one of the last five girls that went in for this movie. It was a huge deal in Hollywood. Everybody was talking about, “Who’s going to play Sif? Who’s going to play this person? Who’s going to play that person?” I know comic books, so I went and researched it and was like, “I can do this. I know I can. Can you just get me an audition for it?” My agents got me an audition for it and my tape was sent to Sweden, where Kenneth Branagh was. He took a look at it, called my manager and said, “Can I get her on a Skype conversation? I’d just like to chat with her a little bit and get to see her personality.” I was like, “Kenneth Branagh wants to Skype with me?!” So, we did that. And then, I got the role and I actually didn’t meet Ken officially, in person, until about a week and a half after I got the part. It was pretty crazy.
Did the physicality that you have in your background help with this role, since she’s the only girl that gets to kick some ass?
ALEXANDER: Right, yeah, I know. I was like, “Man, no pressure.” Yeah, I wrestled in high school. On Kyle XY – a show that I was on – I had a lot of physical stuff. I think it’s just part of my personality. I’m a very physical person. I hug people, more so than shake hands. I was like, “I can do this.” It just took a lot of work. I dropped 20 pounds. I worked out like crazy, and still ate constantly. They had a monitor on me to make sure that I was eating enough for how many calories I was burning. It was really great. It was the most healthy experience I’ve ever had, and it changed the way I live my life now. I’m pretty healthy, most of the time.
Were you disappointed with the changes in the relationship between Thor and Sif from the comic book?
ALEXANDER: It’s interesting because the relationship between Thor and Sif in the comic books, we don’t really take it there in the film. But, personally, I was like, “Listen, I’m a huge fan of these books. I think we should pay a little bit of a tribute to that.” And, everybody agreed, across the board, and said, “Let’s do this very subtly.” There were other scenes that were actually cut from the film, that we shot, because it was a little too in-your-face. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is the one that he loves, in this movie, but if there is a sequel, God willing, they left the door open for a possible Sif-Thor thing happening. So, fingers crossed. I would like that.
How did you go about deciding on the accent and the look? Did you go through a whole process to figure that all out?
ALEXANDER: Oh, yeah. Everybody got together – costume, hair, make-up, Ken Branagh and myself – and said, “Okay, what do we want to do with this girl?” One of her trademarks is her long, black hair, so I had a few hair extensions in the movie. We decided that her colors would be these deep purples and we had armor. I have a gown that I wear, at the very end of the movie, that’s made out of silver rubber, that was partially see-through. We just came up with this metal thing with lots of silver and lots of armor, and still wanted to make sure that she looked feminine because she’s a woman, so we had a corset to make sure that I still had an hour glass shape with all that metal on. It was a lot of fun coming up with that idea ‘cause they also wanted to know what I thought. I was like, “Man, I don’t know. I want a helmet or a cape, or something.” But, I do have a hooded cloak, so that was pretty cool.
ALEXANDER: It was pretty hard. It was tough. I practiced in training with the under-armor corset that I had, for about a month and a half. I was running, jumping and crouching down, and I broke it in a little bit, but there were a lot of times where I had to stop in the middle of a take and catch my breath. It will knock the wind out of you, not being able to expand your stomach when you breathe.
Did you do a lot of training for this, so that you could physically keep up with all the guys?
ALEXANDER: Yeah. Kenneth Branagh actually had all of us train together, so it was myself, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Josh Dallas, Tadanobu Asano and Ray Stevenson. It was the six of us, upstairs in this warehouse that nobody knew about. We were just jumping around in there and doing yoga. Each one of us had a really good strength. I could run really fast, Chris could bench press an entire community, and Tom was very flexible. He could do yoga and kick high. So, we each helped each other learn each other’s strengths. I got teased all the time, but it was great. It was all in good fun.
What was the dynamic like on set, between all of you?
ALEXANDER: Because Kenneth made us train together, we formed a bond. He said, “We want it to be effortless, so just start hanging out together.” We were like, “Okay. Are you serious?” But, it was great. I couldn’t have asked for a more attractive bunch to hang around. Everybody was really cool. We would eat lunch together every day in rehearsal. It just became where they were like family. In all honesty, I’m sure there will be other scenes that will be on the DVD, that weren’t in the film, that show us goofing around and being like, “I taught you that. I’m glad I taught you that.” And he’s like, “Well, I taught you this.” And I’m like, “Whatever, Volstagg.” It was a lot of fun.
ALEXANDER: It’s a huge pain in the ass, man. On set, they would actually have us in these black cloaks that covered our entire outfit, in case the paparazzi were up on the stages. We had to get in this little blacked-out golf cart and go from stage to stage in it. They wouldn’t even let us walk on our own. We had to be covered up completely. They did a pretty great job. Nothing leaked. But, it was hard because you want to tell people what you’re doing, and you can’t. I have no photos from rehearsal or anything. They wouldn’t let us take cameras in there.
Were there any scenes that were particularly challenging to shoot?
ALEXANDER: Yeah, the Destroyer battle was pretty hard. The weather was really rough. There were tornado winds, hail, rain and snow storms, all during the same sequence. I saw the movie and was like, “Okay, good, we did a good job. You can’t tell what’s happening in the sky.” But, it was so funny because it’s a movie about the God of Thunder, literally. But, that was a tough sequence. The altitude is much higher there, so running in a corset, up the street and getting thrown into certain objects was really hard. But, it was never a negative thing. It was always fun.
With the writers already working on story ideas, and since Sif is a character that obviously has much more story to tell, is she someone that you would like to revisit and explore more about?
ALEXANDER: Yes, I would. In all honesty, there were more scenes that were taken out of the film, and that happens a lot in movies. I think it’s got a perfect balance. The finished product is perfect. But, you don’t really get a chance to really get to know Sif, and I think that might be a strong possibility for the sequel. I’m not allowed to talk about it, though.
What originally got you into comic books?
ALEXANDER: It was my brothers. It was always whatever my family had, or what my friends had at school. It was one of those things where I was like, “I don’t want to pick up a book that’s 400 pages and start that.” That’s really how it got started. I was like, “This is entertaining.” I love the artwork. I used to draw a lot. And then, I started reading X-Men. There’s also an animated series that I watched of X-Men on TV, and Jubilee was my favorite character. I just got into her, and then I got into Wolverine because of her. Now, I’m reading X-23, which is my new favorite obsession, ever. Gambit is in it, and Gambit was in Jubilee’s storyline a lot. I was like, “Wow, this is like Jubilee, but more awesome!”
Is there another Marvel character that you would like to play?
ALEXANDER: Yes, X-23!
You’ve made a real transition from doing Kyle XY, which was more of a teen show, into doing these really adult roles. Was that really intentional, on your part? Are there specific things that you look for in a role?
ALEXANDER: I think that’s just where God has taken me. I didn’t go hunt these roles down. They come to me, or fall in my lap, in a way. I have to work for it, but they do find me. I think that when people look at me, and they look at my height and my voice and my coloring, they automatically think, “Tough.” Luckily, on Kyle XY, I had great training in being tough and vulnerable, at the same time. It helped me with this role. I got to be a little bit more funny and goofy in this role. I’m not sure if you got to see a ton of it, in this cut of the film, but it was a lot more fun because I wasn’t having to be so upset all the time, like I was on Kyle XY. But, Kyle XY and my wrestling background definitely helped a lot.