Before she aids the God of Thunder later this year in Thor: The Dark World, Jaimie Alexander will back up Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand. From director Kim Jee-woon, this old school actioner pits a small town sheriff’s department against a ruthless drug lord with a high-powered militia who are making a beeline for the border. Also starring Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Rodrigo Santoro, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker and Peter Stormare, The Last Stand opens January 18th.
In a recent interview, Alexander talked about The Last Stand and how its action compared to that of the fantasy world of Thor, as well as her favorite action sequences to film, her favorite weapon used in the movie and the benefits of working with an international cast and crew. She also gave us an update on Thor: The Dark World and revealed a bit more about what we can expect to see from her character, Sif. Alexander also talked about her work in David Marconi’s film, Intersection, an undisclosed action film she has coming up and her desire to star in a comedy with Will Ferrell. Hit the jump for the full interview.
Jaimie Alexander: Oh man, I suck at this sometimes.
Did you know he has his own tank?
Alexander: I did know that because I’ve seen it.
Did you get to ride on it?
Alexander: No, but I’m going to ask him.
Yeah, definitely ask him. He invited the press people up yesterday, basically because he wanted to do something big action-wise for his return to a lead action role. I wanted to get your take on doing action in The Last Stand versus action in Thor, from an actor’s and a character’s perspective.
Alexander: Obviously, both of those characters have weapons, they’re very different. The training I did for Thor was much more aggressive. With Thor, it’s a heightened sense of reality. It’s a huge fantasy film and with that, a lot of the movements are over-the-top and big and very much like a dream sequence, whereas with The Last Stand, I wanted to make sure that it was very realistic. I trained with an LAPD officer to make sure that the way I held my weapons and the way I went for my gun was standard protocol. I believe you have to make sure there is a bit of realism in a character like that because there are women who are those people out there, so I didn’t want to be disrespectful in that way. They’re very different characters, but the one thing they have in common is that they do stand up for the people that they love and want to protect the people that they love.
As for action sequences, I don’t fly in The Last Stand, I don’t take the bifrost anywhere. It’s hard to say, because I did find those characters somewhat similar. Lady Sif definitely follows protocol when it comes to battle and does what the king asks her to do. Sarah Torrance follows protocol, does things by the book; both characters eventually let their hair down and do what they want to do and do what’s necessary which isn’t usually in the book.
It was great to see that you had a lot of involvement in the big action pieces in this movie, too. It wasn’t as if you were just relegated to the sidelines, you were in the thick of it. What was your favorite action sequence to shoot and what was your favorite weapon in the film, whether it was yours or somebody else’s?
Alexander: My favorite action sequence I did, while I enjoyed everything on the room…I’m not sure it made it into the movie…there’s a scene where I’m hiding behind a cop car and I run and I jump into Arnold’s car while it’s doing a 360.
Alexander: That was me. The door swings open and I run and I jump and I grab onto the seat and my legs hang out as it’s spinning in a 360…that was crazy! My stunt girl was like, “Are you sure?” and I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll try it once. You do it first and then I’ll do it.” Then I started doing it and I was like, “This is awesome!” They had a handle on there I could grab onto and that was amazing because that, for real, was like, if I let go, I’m going to get ran over.
Weapons-wise, [laughs] I don’t know what it is when Luis [Guzman] is holding the Tommy Gun, but I was like, “You’ve got to let me see that.” So I told Arnold, I said, “Go get the fake one and I’m going to pick up the real one.” The real one’s about thirty-five pounds, so I pick it up and I’m holding it and we took a picture…of course he has one just in one arm like this and I’m like [struggling]. But I think that weapon’s really interesting because of what it was used for in the time period that it came to life. So I just thought, “Wow, I’ve never seen one of these, never in person.” I’m not a huge gun person myself, so I just wanted to pick it up and feel the weight of it. It’s just incredible, the weight of this thing. Who could use this unless you have a base like Luis Guzman or Arnold? You know? Not just the average person could deal with one of those, nor should they.
Alexander: I love that man.
I wanted to get your experience of working with an international cast and crew, especially your director, [Kim Jee-woon].
Alexander: I’ll say this, I’m no stranger to working with a foreign cast, foreign directors, that sort of thing. I love it, because I think that when you have people from different countries, it sort of brings everyone together, it’s more of a worldly film. It shows that anybody could be these characters. There are characters like this all over the world. It’s so much fun because with our director…on Sunday nights, we’d make Korean food. Rodrigo [Santoro] would teach us [about] certain foods from his country and then, of course, Luis has this vivacious zest for life and he made me go all the way to Sandia Peak, at the top and look down, so I was like, “Thanks, Luis.” He said, “Hot-air balloons tomorrow!” I said, “You’re on your own!” [Laughs] But it was so neat to experience different cultures and I’m saying more outside of the film, and more about working with these people on a personal level, was just amazing. I think “wie geith’s?” is German for, “How are you?” I believe? Arnold was teaching me some stuff and it was just the neatest thing because you feel uniquely special when you’re in a cast like that. It’s almost like you’re in the Olympics and you’re representing your country, but everybody’s friendly with each other and everybody’s like, “Well, what do you do in this situation? What’s this kind of food?” For me, I think it’s great and I think it does tremendous things for foreign distribution and foreign acceptance of the films.
Speaking about directors, I had another director-related question. What are your reactions from working with Kenneth Branagh on Thor and working with Alan Taylor on Thor: The Dark World?
Alexander: Two very different people, but both have extraordinary visions for what the film should look like and what it is going to look like. Alan, I feel like the second installment of Thor is much darker, much more rooted in what’s going on in the soul, whereas Ken’s version definitely had that soulfulness but was also lighter and there’s an elegance to his film. They’re so different, it’s hard to explain because they’re both very different in a positive way. Of course, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous going into the second Thor, because he was such a leader for us. The man did so much and put so much of his life into that film. He worked…I don’t even think he actually slept. I don’t think I remember him ever saying he got a full night’s rest. I was nervous going into the second one. I meet Alan, he has great ideas, super open to what we want to do as well and knows that we were the character once upon a time. So we can do it again and he puts his spin on it. He’s got some incredible shots in that film. I really enjoyed him a lot. Luckily we got a director that was fantastic, because otherwise I think we would have all sat in our trailers and cried for Ken had that not happened [laughs].
Alexander: Yes! I am fantastic. I didn’t think I could recover that fast, but then I said, “You know what? Screw that. I’ll get back to it.” And I’m back!
People are also happy to hear that it didn’t impede your filming…
And they were wondering about Sif in the sequel. Do you have an expanded role? Do you have a little more screentime?
Alexander: I do, a little bit. You get to experience more of who she is on the inside. You get to see her in a more feminine way and we do explore the Thor/Sif relationship a little bit. That was fun.
Would you say you have more action-oriented scenes, more character-oriented scenes…
Alexander: Oh, I definitely have action. But there are scenes, we have a few scenes where we don’t have any action at all and it was actually a lot of fun to play that because you’re not hiding behind a sword or an explosion, it’s just here, in your face. It was nice to see who she really is and that sort of thing. It was fun.
For the filming of the sequel, the first one was filmed just in the U.S. This one was filmed in Iceland, London, other areas in England. Could you talk about the experience of filming on an international scale?
Alexander: So much of this film is the set and the locations that we were in, they’re almost like a character themselves. We filmed in an area called Bourne Wood outside of London and just some of the most beautiful rolling hills with green gorgeous trees. I do believe Robin Hood was filmed there and lots of things film there, but just to be on that ground where we had a battle sequence and just go, “Wow, a lot of people have been here.” That was what it was, the history in England and what has happened on those grounds and to be a Viking on those grounds. It added some sort of majestic feel to it that maybe wasn’t there 100% on the set inside a studio in California. Obviously when we went to New Mexico for the first one, that…New Mexico to me is just magic, that’s where we filmed The Last Stand, so I was very happy to be there again.
Alexander: Yeah! I believe it comes out on the 23rd of January. You’ll have to double-check that, I might be getting the country wrong. I know it comes out, I think in France on the 30th. That was a suspense thriller, it’s something I’ve never done. Luckily my character had a weapon at one point, a small point, in the film, but I wanted to try something that was different for me, just to see how I liked it. I can say that I did not enjoy playing that character at all. I loved the crew and that aspect, I loved everybody, but going through that and trying to justify some of the things that this woman was doing was just murderous on me. I wanted to change a few things and the director was so great, he was very open to that and we talked about it. I said that I had to make sure that she’s justified for certain things because otherwise, forgive my language, but she’s going to come across as bitchy, and there’s nothing worse than an unjustified character; you just want to cut the movie off. So it was a struggle for me, but then I thought, “Well, good, this is a struggle. Let me see how I do in this.” So I haven’t seen it yet, I hope it’s good! [Laughs]
Could you tease a bit about the plot and your character?
Alexander: Yeah, yeah. I play a character who goes on a honeymoon, she’s a newlywed…it’s all a façade. She plans to kill her husband. He’s a horrible man, he’s very abusive and she tries to get away from him by hiring someone who she has a romantic involvement with. It’s a setup that goes completely awry. We get stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert with some other people who are stranded in the same area and you learn that all of these people are tied in together freakishly, it’s a really interesting plot. It’s more of a character study really, but it’s got some really great French actors; Roschdy Zem is fantastic, I was really happy to work with him, he was great.
And I know Frank Grillo is in the picture as well?
Alexander: Yeah, he plays my husband. Yeah, he taught me some cool boxing moves. I was like, “You were in Warrior, teach me a little bit!”
Alexander: There’s one, but I can’t talk about it yet so I’m hoping that I can in the next couple of weeks, but it’s action.
Another action movie?
Okay…no teasers about that at all?
Alexander: [Laughs] I can’t, I know! I’m going to get shot! They’re like, “Don’t talk about that,” and I was like, “Okay…I won’t…I’ll try not to.” But I’m going to get asked a lot, like, “What’s coming up next?” and what am I supposed to say? “Say you can’t talk about it.” Yeah, okay.
You mentioned that this last role that you had was something you hadn’t done before. Is there anything that you’d like to explore, any role that you’d love to see if it came across the table?
Alexander: You know what’s funny? Just for fun, I’m really goofy and I would love to do some stupid comedy, I’m talking like crazy, out there, Will Ferrell type of thing. I love it, I think those movies are so funny. Chris Farley, I was a huge fan of his growing up. I would love to do something kind of slapstick and funny, maybe where I could change my look even a little bit.
The Last Stand opens Friday January 18th.