Home Entertainment Exclusive 1:1 Print Generic Interview with Gina Carano (Riley)
Gina Carano is an American actress, television personality, fitness model and a former mixed martial artist. Gina Carano appeared as Crush, a fighter on American Gladiators, and has been referred to as the ‘Face of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts’. She starred in the 2011 action film Haywire and features prominently in Fast & Furious 6 (2013), where she plays the hard-as-nails Riley…
Q: You are a trained fighter but you are doing choreography on screen in Fast 6. Is that counter-intuitive for you at all? A: No, it is not. I used to be a dancer. My mum sent me to dance class when I was growing up and when we moved to Las Vegas, we used to go and perform and dance, which was something that I loved and I almost wished I had continued. As a little girl, I was really, really good at it and could have had a nice dance career. It was something I loved to do, so with the fighting on film I get the same adrenalin rush. I get to entertain and at the same time, I can take care of the person in front of me, especially someone cool like Michelle Rodriguez.
Q: Michelle Rodriguez broke out with Girlfight (2000) and is a physical performer but not a fighter as such. How impressed were you with her skills?A: I found that she showed up every day for rehearsal and she has a very nice physicality about her. It is not what I am used to seeing, being around female fighters. I have been around some of the best women fighters so I have seen athletes, other women, and what they can do. I have seen a wide range of knowledge but for her as an actress, she was great. Her character is more of a street fighter and so everything she did — she bit and head-butted. So I think it takes a really good stunt creator to conceive two people so different. But Michelle Rodriguez’s chemistry really is just something cool.
Q: Did you worry about hurting the person opposite you on screen? A: You know when you sit down with someone or you act with someone in a fight scene how they are going to feel and what their insecurities are. Me, being the more experienced and stronger one in life, it is my duty to take care of that and make sure that they feel comfortable because when I am doing a non-action scene with an experienced actor, I respect them and hope that they would be the same with me. I see a little fear in people, even in guys. I saw fears about this scene but it is quite obvious that I take care of them and I think that Michelle Rodriguez felt very safe with me.
Q: What has been your own relationship with the Fast and Furious films?
A: Getting this job was such an amazing feeling; I was just like jumping around my apartment and dancing. Then I was like, ‘Oh, I had better catch up on some movies,’ because I had not really been watching Fast and Furious. But I did remember the first one and what I liked about the first one was the Dom-Letty relationship. I thought the chemistry was so great and that is what I love in movies, chemistry between two characters, father-son, anything where you can see and relate to an emotional character. I caught glimpses of Fast 5 (2011) when it was on TV but I never really sat down and watched it. Then I did watch it all and I was like, ‘Wow, they really did something there. They really took it to the next level’. So after I watched it I was like, ‘Okay, that is pretty impressive that they took a franchise that did really well. Then it dwindled off and people were falling away and then they brought everybody back and it exploded.’ And the idea of what they wanted to do in Fast and Furious 6 (2013) was bigger and better than that. The same director, Justin Lin, he was on the phone, calling and talking to me. He was a great director to work with.
Q: How did Justin Lin invigorate you and excite you about the film? A: He was like, ‘Look, I think that we need a good opposing force for bringing Letty back,’ and that is pretty much what all this film is about. So my character was very important and the stronger I came across the better Letty comes across. That was a responsibility, it was challenging. They also brought Luke Evans on. When he was brought on I was like, ‘Oh, my God — they went there and they got Luke Evans!’ My mum called me and she was like, ‘Luke Evans, is he in the movie?’
Q: What made your mum such a fan of Luke Evans? A: She knows him from his films. She is a big fan of him and so are my sisters, especially Immortals (2011), so when I found out that he was on the movie too I was so excited. Right from the start he is an amazing bad guy in this movie and he makes the opposing force for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. He makes this movie happen, I think. You have never seen a villain like this in any of the Fast and Furious films. He is one of my favourite people to act with and I really appreciated watching him. His first day on set, they had him in handcuffs and Paul Walker punched him twice in the face. The whole group was around him just staring at him! I remember my first day and my voice was shaking. But his first day, he was cool and he was strong and I just remember trying not to smile because he was just awesome. This one single man has just combated with his inward strength these giant human beings who were so strong-looking. I am a fan of Luke Evans forever. He is so cool.
Q: Are the first day nerves you got on set similar to what you feel before a professional fight?
A: I think they are very, very similar. With the acting it has been a challenge. With fighting, once you get in there everything gets dark and blank and you can physically just express yourself. With acting it has to come from the heart. So I am better when I am trained to physically do something, which is what Steven Soderbergh [director] did with me Haywire (2011). He would always have me doing something. He was like, ‘Okay we have a first-time actress who is used to doing physical stuff so just let’s keep her busy doing stuff, like keep running’ and I ran all over Barcelona. I ran the anxiety out of me. That is why Steven Soderbergh is a genius. But learning to act you have to bring it out there and I love that because I have never really been good at that. I am having to learn and push myself to better me as a person.
Q: Was Fast 6 (2013) an easier or more difficult experience than Haywire (2011)? A: It was just a completely different experience but what was really nice about it though was that I was the main character on Haywire (2011) but on Fast 6 (2013) I was not a main character. I was just blending in with the group and my character is very quiet, very stoical and very physical and she has own cool story. But there was more of a chance for observing other actors and that was a part of it that was different.
Q: Was it better to be thrown into the deep end on Haywire (2011) or would doing Fast 6 (2013) first have been better?
A: I am grateful for the way my life is but it does hurt sometimes. It has positives and negatives. Right now, women’s mixed martial arts is so popular and I felt as if I was one of the pioneers for that. One of my dreams was to fight in UFC and I am seeing other women live that out but at the same time I am here. I am in London, promoting movies and having to really learn a different craft and start at a whole new, humbling level. It has been good for me. This is a beautiful life and I am learning a lot but it has not been easy to get here, definitely. It has had its challenges and problems but I think it is worth it. I did a project called In the Blood (2013) after Fast 6 and I really got the bug to get into acting and I am really excited for people see a teaser of that because I put out something that I did not know I had. Hopefully people will see that and think, ‘Where can we take this girl, actually?’ The teaser played in Cannes and I have had lots of calls since.
Q: Acting is going to be your future but what drew you to fighting in the first place? A: I would never be able to have this conversation once. I was very quiet and worried and very emotional and I kept everything in. You have to get that out some place and that became physical for me. It became physical through sport and dancing and that just became my art and my expression. When I found fighting, Muay Thai was my first love. I cannot even say basketball or gymnastics, or dancing. It was Muay Thai. Something just clicked and it became a first love, physically, for me. And just kind of being good at it, the training, the one on one personal focus, everything goes away and it just you and that other person. There are no lies in that moment and you have to get real and you have to get real to yourself before fights and after fights and you have to be so honest with yourself. That goes with acting, too. You have to really have your stuff together.