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Getting in Shape: An Interview with Gina Carano

The star of Haywire on her upcoming film In the Blood and the possibility of both Haywire 2 and retiring from the MMA.

 

Actionfest, the all action movie film festival, is naming Gina Carano Female Action Star of the Year at their third annual festival this week. As if a weekend full of foreign and indie action movies wasn’t awesome enough, attendees will also get to party with Carano.

We got to speak with Carano by phone to promote her honor at the festival and get the scoop on her follow-up to Haywire, the John Stockwell helmed In the Blood.

 

CraveOnline: Congratulations on your ActionFest award.

Gina Carano: Thank you, thank you. It’s really cool that they finally have an award like that that they’re giving out and I’m really looking forward to seeing the women after me get it.

 

What highlights from your fights do you hope they show in the clip reel?

You know what, I’ve never actually been to one of these award things, so they’re going to show a clip real? I’m fine with whatever. They can show anything. I’m really proud to have come from MMA and to be a part of that. I think it’s an amazing sport and they’re such wonderful people and such wonderful females that are part of it too, so it’s really kind of an honor to represent my sport in that way. It’s really kind of awesome also for me to represent stunts because I think those people put out such wonderful, beautiful fight scenes that we get to enjoy all the time and they actually put their lives on the line a lot of the time too and it’s really nice to be a part of an event that really shows people that side to it and honors people that are part of the stunts and all that.

 

Have you gotten new fans from movies?

Yeah, I think so. I’ve been actually surprised. A lot of people enjoyed the film Haywire and a lot of people have mixed feelings on it but regardless, a lot of people have said really wonderful things about it being my first experience, that the fighting they absolutely enjoyed. So I think I’ve gotten a lot more fans actually. I’m so surprised. I’m really surprised how many people knew me as Gina Carano. MMA has a beautiful fan base.

 

How did you handle the mixed reactions?

Yeah, people love it or they hate it pretty much. Everybody is their own critic. It’s a film that I think people love or they hate and they look at what it is or they don’t like it at all. I don’t care. People have loved or hated me my whole life too so you just take the good and the bad and you just balance it out.

 

We heard you called Channing Tatum a pussy on the set. Do you normally have a potty mouth?

[Laughs] Sometimes. It depends on what part of my life I’m in, I’ll have a potty mouth. Depends on what’s happening.

 

How are you getting ready for In the Blood and its exotic locations?

It’s going to be shot in Puerto Rico. It’s [doubling for] Colombia. I’m really excited about that. I actually moved to L.A. and have been training with the stunt team. Getting in shape is such an amazing thing for me right now.

 

What is that character’s fighting style?

I think she’s more just like she grew up in a very interesting atmosphere and she’s just ruthless, just kind of street fighting ruthless, does whatever to get the job done. Just ruthless street fighting. It’s not going to be like Haywire, she was a trained contractor so you expect these nice moves to come out of her. I think it’s going to be a little more street fight.

 

Haywire was developed for you. Is this more of a character you’re stepping into the role when it already existed?

You know what’s really interesting about Haywire is it was written for me but it ended up being nothing like me. Actually, me and my friend were reading this script and he was like, “Holy sh*t, Gina, this was made for you.” He was like, “Somebody must have written this with you in mind.” I love her. I love this character in this role. She’s awesome. Her name’s Ava. Sometimes you kind of fall asleep when you’re reading these scripts, you know. It was a script that I just kept on page turning and page turning and I couldn’t put it down.

 

John Stockwell’s done a lot of tropical action. Will we see you in a bikini?

[Laughs] I don't know, I’ll have to wait and see. I’m definitely training to get into a bikini right now so we will definitely wait and see.

 

Would it be hard to fight in a bikini without any padding?

No, I didn’t wear any padding on Haywire. One thing about being blessed about coming from MMA is you really put your body through the whole grind. When I enjoy doing something, I don’t mind if it hurts.

 

Do you know what the big fights will be in In the Blood?

We haven’t gotten into the fights yet so I’m pretty much just training and learning a lot of cool sh*t at the stunt gym right now and then we’ll start going the choreography here in the next couple weeks I think. That’s a good question. I’m looking forward to it too.

 

What strikes you as cool sh*t when you’ve trained so much already?

Well, like right now I’m learning basic kicks and things that I have always looked at and been like, “There’s no way I can do that.” And now I’m doing it and I’m like, “Wow, okay.” So you just have to learn the steps, like a dance. You just have to learn the steps to making that move happen. I’m like oh sh*t, I wish I could have been open minded enough when I was fighting to learn these moves because I wouldn’t be afraid to throw ‘em. So it’s really cool to go into a gym where my passion is mixed martial arts but now I get to use it so creatively. And it’s pretty much all fascinating to me right now because in the past I come from a Muay Thai background. It was always so straightforward and get the job done type of stuff. Now I get to go in and learn all sorts of different types of martial arts. Its’ really opened my mind and refreshed my love for martial arts in general.

 

If you go back to fighting could you use more of what you’ve learned in movies?

Oh yeah. I know that sounds maybe ridiculous probably to some people, but I’m throwing spinning back kicks and all sorts of stuff. Walking into the stunt gym, you’ve got nothing but the most passionate people about mixed martial arts just using these martial arts to make fight scenes look great. They don’t have a limit on oh, I’m just a Muay Thai fighter, I’m just a Jujitsu fighter. No, they’re thinking so over the top so it’s really been kind of a super refreshing thing for me to see because one of the biggest elements in fighting is being creative. That’s one thing that I might have been lacking in my cage fighting is being creative and remembering to be fresh and creative.

 

You haven’t announced whether or not you’re retiring from MMA yet, have you?

No, I haven’t. I think it’s really nice for me to get into this new career. I know I can’t make a living fighting, nor would I want to make a living fighting for the rest of my life. Plus it’s been a decade now. I don't know if you’ve been reporting or doing something for 10 years, but after you do it long enough and you find something else to put your energy towards, it’s just like starting over but it’s fresh and you have the energy all of a sudden to do it.

 

I might be a little different in that I do want to be a journalist forever but it’s also not life threatening.

Well, if you were writing for Crave for 10 years and you needed something different, maybe you’d want to go write somewhere else for your writer’s block. You know what I mean?

 

I understand the comparison, but I would also like Crave to know I’m very happy writing for them and I don’t plan on going anywhere.

[Laughs] Yeah.

 

With fighting, do you have to declare you’re in or retired? Can’t you just fight if you want and take a break if you want?

That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to be one of those people that says, “Oh, I retire. Okay, I’m back. Oh, I retire. Okay, I’m back.” I’m just like okay, this is what I’m doing right now. Who knows what’s going to come after it? I really haven’t really gotten that far yet.

 

Do you enjoy watching movie fighting, or can you even when you have real fight knowledge?

You know, it’s funny. During Haywire I couldn’t watch any movies because I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is how movies are made.” It was such an eye opener. I asked Steven [Soderbergh], “Is this going to ruin movies for me forever?” He was like, “Pretty much, yeah.” But I found that after about six months, I didn’t watch movies for like six months after Haywire. Now I find that I enjoy them that much more because I do have a lot of knowledge about how they’re made now and I’m like wow, I have that much more of an appreciation for it. With the fighting, I pretty much look at a movie fight and I just think about what I would have done or what I could do. I kind of appreciate it and try to be creative with it instead of judge it too much.

 

Have you seen The Raid?

No, but my manager told me I need to see that. Is it pretty good?

 

It’s awesome. You’re discovering a new martial art on screen.

I definitely want to see that. I almost went to the premiere but I had to go to my sister’s birthday. Yeah, I wanted to see that. Cool.

 

Have they mentioned Haywire 2?

I would love to do a Haywire 2 but right now I’m really excited about In the Blood. I’m excited about her, the character and the vulnerability in that character so there’s lots of other things on the table but working with Steven was such an honor, of course I’d love to do that again.

 

Could Ava have more adventures after In the Blood?

We’ll have to find out. I’m not going to give any spoilers.