Heavy.com was on-set in London for the filming of Fast & Furious 6, and this week we're bringing you exclusive articles and photos to get you amped for the Memorial Day launch of the most epic installment in the high-adrenaline Fast & Furious franchise. Get more of your Fast 6 fix here.
Gina Carano was an animal in the Octagon. But in person, the ex-MMA assassin is an angel-faced, soft-spoken sweety.
She's still getting the hang of this acting thing, and she's painfully shy around reporters when discussing her role on the set of Fast 6, where she's like a baby sister among the giants of the franchise like Vin Diesel and The Rock.
But when it comes to fight scenes, her instincts kick in. Sometimes too hard — like when she accidentally kicked the crap out of some poor stuntwoman.
"It wasn’t a good feeling because I’m the one who’s supposed to be in control," she told Heavy.com, on a break from shooting in London. "I don’t want to come off like as a Steven Segal. You hear these horror stories from all these stunt guys. I want to come off as very professional. But I threw this spinning back kick against a stunt girl, Cybil, and she’s so awesome, and she’s just like ‘Give it to me,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, I will.’ Just to make it look real. And it landed way harder than I anticipated and everyone was like, ‘Oohh!’ And you feel like a big a**hole when that happens. You don’t feel good about yourself. It’s not a big ego boost. I’m the fighter. I really try to take care of the people I work with because I have a background in this and it’s my duty to take care of them, and I take that very seriously, so that more people want to work with me."
Cybil survived, "but she did land up against the wall, just like, 'Oh,' and I saw her call me a couple names in her head. She’s awesome. ... Stuntwomen are awesome. They have a funny look in their eye. They’re all a little crazy."
Despite Carano's remorse, it's those kind of kicks that will make her a natural-born action star and a perfect fit for this film.
It's like the Fast franchise decided it didn't have quite enough babes or ass-kicking, so it brought in an ass-kicking babe.
Carano plays sidekick to Dwayne Johnson, an enforcement agent tracking a band of evil international criminals. Carano described her character:
"Her name’s Riley, which I think is a cool name. … She’s kind of a backup to the Rock, so she’s on the Rock’s team and very loyal to him. She’s got some cool twists and turns throughout the movie, which I think the audience is gonna be surprised by."
Carano comes off a starring role in Haywire, but she's still a rookie. She learned that acting takes training, just like MMA.
"Training to fight, there’s a passion. You get humbled every day you go to the gym, and you get humbled every day on the set," she said. "They’re two interestingly parallel worlds that have helped me out," she said. "I really respect actors. You have to get out of your skin and take it seriously. It’s not always easy to be that vulnerable in front of a whole room of people."
Carano's entree into acting came as an unexpected call to adventure.
“After my last fight, I had lost against Cyborg, and I got a phone call four days later," she said. "My agent was like, ‘You really need to take this meeting. It’s a director.’ And I was like ‘I don’t want to see anyone. I still have a black eye. This is awful.’ And he’s like, ‘No, it’s Steven Soderbergh.’ And I didn’t know who that was. Yeah, he had lunch with me for four hours and was like ‘Do you wanna do a movie?’ and I was like, ‘Yes.’ ... I always knew in my heart that if an opportunity was going to come it would come to me. And it did through Steven Soderbergh. And ever since then I’ve been like, ‘Okay, just trust your heart a little bit more because those things do happen."
She's already earned the respect of fellow female co-star Michelle Rodriguez, who says Gina's lucky to enter show business in an era where women aren't marginalized.
“I love her. She’s awesome," Rodriguez said. "I’m like, you’re coming in [to the movie business] at a time when people are starting to get it. When I came in I had to fight not to be the girlfriend, had to fight not to be in some sort of romance. Every single time they see a girl they just think of her vagina and a relationship, and I’m like, 'Really dude?' Honestly, there are other aspects of existence that are a little bit cooler to focus on when you’re doing an action movie.
"She’s coming into the business at a time where people are a lot more receptive to girl power. The population is huge. People are trying to empower women so they can send a message across the world of balancing things out. And I think Hollywood is taking that seriously nowadays."
One of our most anticipated moments in Fast 6 is the girl-on-girl slugfest between Rodriguez and Carano.
"You want to make it big," Rodriguez said. "Girl fights are cool. We wanted to make it special, so I hope it worked out. ... I think we need to have more girl fights. I agree with Sandra Bullock. She made a comment once that if more girls were in bar fights we’d get along more, and I agree."
Here's to barfights between sexy, sullen tomboys and angel-faced cage killers. Yes, please.
Carano said she has no plans to return to the Octagon. She's an actor now.
“I haven’t fought for three years," she said. "So, I just never want to have to rely on it again for money. I’d like to make money other ways. As long as I have a way to express myself — this [acting career] is not bad. I’m in London, being physical still, and exploring things I’ve never done before, so it’s beautiful."
But we had to ask — could she take on The Rock? Maybe in a charity event or something?
“I think I’d take on the Rock’s arm, and that’s about it. I got some pretty strong legs, though, I’ll throw that out there.”
Just ask Cybil.