Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano makes her acting debut in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire this weekend, starring as a lethal secret agent who, betrayed and on the run, hunts down traitors played by Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender. You won’t hear her real voice in the film — Soderbergh, no stranger to casting non-professional female leads, has been open about altering it — but you will see her kicking hot man ass. For real. And hard. We spoke with Carano at a screening of the film hosted by the Cinema Society last night about squeezing heads between her thighs, playing Wonder Woman, and the perks and perils of acting opposite Fassbender.
It’s refreshing for a female action lead to have some muscle.
I’m glad, too. It’s really nice to represent my sport. That’s my original love, and it’s a blessing to represent the people of it because they’re good people.
I was asking other people here if they could take you, and they all seem to think there’s no way, even if you had your hands tied behind your back.
Well, I have very strong legs, I have to say.
You could squeeze them with your thighs.
I got that going for me! And I’ve been lucky that no one’s head has popped off yet! [Laughs.]
That could be a good technique in bed, too. The way you do that to Michael Fassbender, it’s very sexual.
By the way, I should clarify — Shame was not out at this point. He had not shot Shame and I did not know about it [when we were shooting]. Had I known, I don’t think I could have handled this! [Laughs.] He invited me to the premiere, or a screening of it, and I was like, “No, Michael!” I mean, he’s beautiful, but I don’t need to see, I don’t want to see … that! [Gives a sudden flurry of defensive hand gestures.]
What was your first day on set with him like?
This wasn’t in the script originally, but he kissed me! Michael came up to me, and he said, “If we’re pretending to be husband and wife [for our cover in an operation], I should kiss you.” And I was like, “Are you kidding?” This is my first day of filming, this is my first kiss of my entire career, and I was like, “I’ve never had a kiss on camera before!” My whole mouth, my face was completely shaking, and I was going, “Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god!” But it was nice. It was nice just to be present with him, and he was so genuine, and so beautiful.
And then of course you have this knockout fight with him.
Michael’s crazy. We were brutal to each other. He was slamming me into the wall. He slammed my head so hard, I lost it for a second — I went white. And at one point, our knees clashed, he got a limp. And this was the first fight scene we did for the film.
You also get some tender moments with Channing Tatum — before you beat him up as well. You get all the guys!
I know! [Giggles.] I was like, “Oh my gosh! I get to kiss Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum?” Channing’s a married man, so I respect that. But I consider myself very lucky. It’s not a bad thing, right?
Did you have any favorite action films growing up? Did you look up to Ripley or Sarah Connor?
I didn’t really watch action films growing up! I grew up on stuff like Anne of Green Gables — that was more when I was in elementary school. It was all I ever watched. My friends would come over and be like, “No, Gina, not again!” And Pride and Prejudice. Did you watch those?
You mean the Colin Firth-as-Darcy Pride and Prejudice series on the BBC?
Yes! I had those on replay. I wore those VHS cassettes out! I loved that story.
Every girl does. Maybe you’ll get to act with him someday — if you want to continue acting.
Oh my god — I would love to. Everyone expects me to play it cool, and be like, “Oh no, I’m fine.” But I can’t fight forever. So I’m going to go for it. Why not?
People have suggested you play Wonder Woman.
I know! We even had a Wonder Woman reference in the film — did you catch it? One of the cops said something to me like, “Oh, chill out, Wonder Woman.” And I thought that was so funny. I said to Steven, “You know there’s a little rumor about me and Wonder Woman.” And he said mischievously, “Oh, that’s interesting.”
Nicolas Winding Refn is plotting to do a Wonder Woman film. There are a couple of directors who want to do this one.
Ooooh! That’s very interesting because Drive, that had such a unique style and music, and I was like, “I recognize this from somewhere, but where?” And then later I realized it was Cliff Martinez, who had done the score for like 50 Soderbergh movies. So I was like, “Cool.” I was into it. I would definitely be into working with [Refn]. One of my favorite superhero movies is Hancock — did you see it? If they could do a superhero movie in a more realistic fashion where you could actually believe in it, I would be up for that. It could still be playful, but that’s what I’m representing — the fighting would be real. More than anything, I would want Wonder Woman to be believable, you know?