As you can see in the recent trailer, Viper (played by Svetlana Khodchenkova) plays a key role in director James Mangold‘s The Wolverine. However, when I participated in a group interview with Khodchenkova on set last year, the only info she was willing to give up about her character was that “she’s a villain” and “she has reasons for everything she does.” That being said, Khodchenkova was more than willing to talk about how she got cast, what it’s like working on a big budget Hollywood movie for the first time, her costume, and more. Hit the jump for the interview.
Before getting to the interview, watch the recent trailer:
SVETLANA KHODCHENKOVA: I found out about the audition, and I sent in a video. I had an audition in Moscow, then I went to Los Angeles, then I had one more audition in Australia. It was a long way.
The character is called the Viper, so that suggests that there will be something viper-like about her. What would that be and how would you embody that?
KHODCHENKOVA: Of course being from Russia, I respect all of the comic books American people love. We do follow it a lot. It’s going to still have a little bit of my own flavor to it, but I will do the best I possibly can to match it as closely to the character from the comic books.
This is your first venture into mainstream American cinema. What’s the big difference, in what you’ve noticed so far, in the way you’ve been working until now in cinema and with this kind of production?
KHODCHENKOVA: The difference is amazing, it’s very different. Just to start, the hours that actors and everyone else, the crew, work every single day is different. In Russia, I would probably never work for more than nine hours, but it would go on to twelve, fifteen. It’s different because I’m quite far away from my family and all my friends, the people I love. People are speaking all different languages, so it’s a bit challenging. Sometimes we have crazy moment, with the director giving me directions and I’m going, “Oh my God! What is he saying? I need someone to translate!” It’s a little bit hectic now and then, but it’s funny.
What has it been like working in Australia and working with Hugh Jackman and the cast?
KHODCHENKOVA: It’s fantastic to work all the cast and crew here, and Hugh Jackman’s amazing. He’s a really kind person, and he always cares about everyone. He’ll come up and ask if you’ve had a good sleep, are you wearing sunblock. He’s very nice. It’s very great to work with him and everyone else.
Talk a little bit about the costume you get to wear and how it is with action stuff.
KHODCHENKOVA: All I can say about the costume now is that every costume is really different, and also being a woman I absolutely love it, all the different changes. It helps my character, because it progresses with the character throughout the film, her costumes and looks. It’s always changing. The most important costume for the Viper-look, the superhero look, is still in progress. We’ve made different versions of it and we’re still working on it. It’s surprising too, because we’re still working on it.
What’s your approach to the character? Obviously she is sort of a villain in this sort of storyline. Maybe you don’t see her as a villain, but I’m just curious, what’s your take on the character?
KHODCHENKOVA: With my character, certainly she’s a villain, but for me to play the character I have to love the character. I have to realize why she’s doing what she’s doing, and obviously she has reasons for everything she does. I’m working a lot on that. I love the character.
We were talking before with Hugh Jackman about his physical preparation, which lasted months before this project even began. Was it the same with you, or did being from Russia help her out with the physical preparations?
What scenes are you finding the hardest scenes? Obviously there’s action scenes, there’s dramatic scenes. With Australia playing Japan, what are you finding the hardest, the most challenging scenes to work on?
KHODCHENKOVA: I haven’t been in the project for too long, so the important scenes, the big scenes are coming up. They have us film the really intimates moments or the dramatic moments, because the action looks fantastic, but you run, you shoot, it all happens so quickly. Sometimes you may even have a stunt double do certain things for you, but when it’s close-up and it’s really dramatic that’s when you really need to concentrate. You cannot get body doubles or anybody else to do it for you. You pull it through your heart and just give it to everyone.
A lot of actors, when they book a gig, will buy themselves a present. Have you bought yourself a present from booking this gig?
KHODCHENKOVA: No, not yet! It’s a good idea, I’ll think about it.
Obviously when this movie comes out, you’re obviously going to have to do a lot of publicity. When this movie is getting ready to come out, are you doing a lot of English lessons now with the hope that next summer you will be more fluent?
KHODCHENKOVA: I hope. I hope I can do it by myself. At the moment I’m concentrating on my dialect and working with a dialect coach for the film. As soon as I go back to Moscow, I’ve got a teacher waiting for me for English lessons.
Has language added a lot more difficulty to the shoot? Have you found a language you share on set?
KHODCHENKOVA: Of course it’s much more difficult, because it’s harder for me to remember the lines. Sometimes I’m not just playing, I have to really think a lot about it. It’s difficult.
The Wolverine opens July 26th. For more from our set visit:
- 40 Things to Know About THE WOLVERINE From Our Set Visit
- Hugh Jackman Talks His Training Regimen, Finally Putting “the Real Wolverine” on Screen, the Comics Influence, and More on the Set of THE WOLVERINE
- Director James Mangold Talks Making a Noir Film in Japan, Visual Style, 3D, the Rating, the Comics Influence, and More on the Set of THE WOLVERINE
- Producer Hutch Parker Talks the Long Development Process, Continuing to Develop the Third Act During Production, and More on the Set of THE WOLVERINE
- Tao Okamoto Talks Making Her Acting Debut on an X-MEN Movie, Taking Advice from Hugh Jackman, and More on the Set of THE WOLVERINE
- Rila Fukushima Talks Fight Sequences, Similarities to the Comic, Working with Hugh Jackman, and More on the Set of THE WOLVERINE