In Fast and Furious 6, out Friday (5/24), Dominic Torreto and his crew are drafted into a fight against a highly-trained former-military unit of thieves. Among the new faces that show up to give Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel a hand is MMA superstar Gina Carano. Carano made her acting debut in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent sleeper hit Haywire, but we’re not above confessing our first exposure to the actress was on the retooled American Gladiators, where she took the name Crush. (We see what you did there.) We caught up with Gina before the premiere of Fast and Furious 6 and talked about everything from how she adapted her fighting style to where she goes from here.
Nerdist: You got paired off with Dwayne Johnson for the majority of this film. What was your working relationship like, and how did you approach going into the pairing?
Gina: It was awesome. I’ve watched Dwayne professionally and I just completely respect what he’s done. You can’t drive around now without seeing a billboard or seeing him on tv every other commercial. He’s just done such a great job for himself. He’s so professional and he’s such a hard worker; it was good for me to be around someone like that and learn from him. It was awesome, man, just being next to him. I’m really not used to that kind of thing. He made me look smaller. I was kind of disappointed, because originally I wanted to go up against him in some way or have a fight with this monstrous man, but they really wanted to build up the fight between these strong female-type women. Michelle was just awesome to work with, and I really, really enjoyed it.
Nerdist: Speaking of your fight scene with Michelle, with your training and career, how easy is it to adapt your fighting style into choreographed fights for film?
Gina: It’s incredibly easy, actually. It’s something I’m good at. I used to dance when I was little; I would do choreography, and then for some reason I got into Mixed Martial Arts. I understand and I speak that language. So, when we go into choreography, it’s very challenging in the most beautiful way. I get to learn more. Doing mixed martial arts as a cop character is much different than being a cage fighter. What Olivier did, the stunt coordinator, he just helped me get into my character and learn all sorts of new stuff that I ordinarily wouldn’t use in a regular fight, a street fight, or a cage fight. It’s such a never-ending thing, you can never learn enough. When you have such good stunt coordinators, it’s a beautiful thing. It becomes art.
Nerdist: The film has its own sense of reality (and physics). When you’re acting in a movie like that, do you have to convince yourself to let go a little bit and buy in?
Gina: I think that’s the reason Fast and Furious is so popular. It is not a superhero movie, but it’s not a regular action movie either. It’s somewhere in between, so you have that relatability, and at the same time you get the feeling of watching a superhero movie. I think that it’s got real relationships and character building, but then it has that edge of letting people escape when they go see it. That’s one of the fascinating things about Fast and Furious, that it combines both of those elements so well.
Nerdist: How much training do you have to put in when preparing for a movie versus preparing for a fight?
Gina: Training to be in a movie and then training during the filming takes so much energy, by the end of the day you can’t get to your bed soon enough. It’s a different kind of energy and mentality. I love both of them, but I like the idea of a character and building yourself around that character. That’s completely fascinating to me. But just like a fight, you just train, train, train, and practice. On the day of filming, it should be a good day. It’s just as much training, but it requires a different mentality.
Nerdist: We really liked Haywire, but you got to be a couple shades lighter with your personality in this film. How do you feel you’re growing as an actress?
Gina: I actually did a movie, In the Blood, right after Fast and Furious 6. I went straight from London to Puerto Rico and was shooting two days later. It was kind of a guerrilla shoot, and because of that, I was able to tap that much more into my emotions and character building. That movie, on top of doing Fast and Furious 6, has me going through scripts that I really want to play and put myself 100% into. I want to find something that shows that, yes, I have a physical side I feel I can push to another limit and another limit, but I have an emotional side too that I can’t wait for people to see. It’s just getting better and better with each experience, and with the right role, it’s going to be really nice to tell a good story. When you get it right on set and you know you got it right, there’s not a better feeling in the world. On the flip side, when you get it wrong, you think, “Oh my gosh, what did I just do?” It’s a really humbling experience, but you just feel on top of the world.
Nerdist: You were an excellent straight-man for some of the Rock’s one liners. Are you looking to explore comedy more?
Gina: I am a bit of a goofball, and at this point I’m not opposed to anything. I feel like as soon as I read a script, it’s going to pop out at me. It’s more about the character that I find in whatever script that I’m reading and if I relate to that. For me, it is really nice to smile and laugh and be very awkward. I’m really good at that. I should find a character like that for sure, hopefully. But, I love drama and I’m a very emotional creature. I’m just looking for the next step right now.
Nerdist: There have been rumblings about you leading a female version of The Expendables. Is that something you’re interested in?
Gina: There have been talks of that, and as soon as I get a script, I’ll be able to answer that question more clearly. I am a huge fan of Sucker Punch. I absolutely love that movie. So, I can see the potential of getting a bunch of us together. It just depends on the script and if you get a visionary director in there. It could get cheesy really easily, so you have to have somebody that wants to take it and make it special, instead of what we’ve seen before. That’s the project I want to be a part of. I am totally open to being a part of something that is an all-female action based film, as long as it has a good vision.
Fast and Furious 6 is in theaters tomorrow. Who do you think should be in an all-female Expendables? Sound off in the comments below….