The first thing Jaimie Alexander says to me is that she's got makeup on her butt. Her theory is that she just sat down on something, but regardless, the tone for the interview is set. Jaimie Alexander is an up-and-coming star in the motion picture industry. You probably noticed her as Sif in Kenneth Branagh's Thor, and now she's cementing her action movie credentials with The Last Stand, the highly anticipated film that marks Arnold Schwarzenegger's big return to movie stardom. In the film, she plays Sheriff's Deputy Sarah Torrance, whose small town is invaded by a drug cartel and whose mettle is tested in an epic firefight at the end of the picture. It's a surprisingly involving role for an action movie, and we think she sells the hell out of it, so naturally we asked her about whether she'd come on board for either of the two female Expendables movies that are currently in development (she gave a very non-answer answer).
The Last Stand opens in theaters on January 18, 2013.
CraveOnline: You are positioning yourself in such a way that you are becoming a big action star.
Jaimie Alexander: Yeah, I love action.
Was that something you wanted to do, initially?
I think it’s the easiest thing for me to do.
Why is that?
Because… Hi, Gimlet! [Her dog jumps onto the couch.] Gimlet wants to meet you. For me, I just find it easy for me. When I grew up I was on my high school wrestling team. I grew up with four brothers. I feel comfortable in that genre. I think a lot of times, actresses, they say… “Well, what would you like to do? What’s a dream role for you? Do you want to change it up?” Well, for me, I love action. I love it. I could do this forever.
You look really comfortable with a weapon.
Yeah. I know. [Laughs]
Do you have a lot of experience with that?
Well, you know, I collect… No…
It’s okay if you do.
I do collect knives.
What’s your favorite knife?
William Henry. My favorite brand. But I have a very small William Henry. They’re so expensive. I feel like I should just pick up the phone and be like, “Hey, can you send me some stuff?”
You could use it in a movie!
I’m just going to wear one on my hip or something. “Hey, look!” For me, everybody’s like, “Oh, you grew up in Texas, you probably grew up with guns.” Never. Never shot a gun growing up, no. I think there’s something about me where I like to protect people, and I like to look after people, particularly underdog people. People who get picked on, that get made fun of. I hated that in school, and I actually got suspended in school for getting in a fight with somebody who was picking on another girl.
I wish you’d been at my school…
[Laughs] I think I just grew up very aggressive, I don’t know. So in this, when I read a script and say, okay, this is a strong woman who’s an everyday woman who wants to just protect her family, who doesn’t want to be violent but has no other choice. And she’s law enforcement as well, so she’s trained with it. So she says this is a last resort, but this is a last resort. The last stand. [Laughs] So she does that, and I like that about her. She tries to see the way out of a problem in I guess a more relaxed manner, not so aggressive, then she can do it if she has to. That’s my personality.
You’ve got a good character arc in this, where you’re inexperienced, but you’re a good police officer, a good person, and you’re just thrust into the middle of something. In the second act in particular. So often in an action movie, particularly in a Schwarzenegger movie, violence is just taken as a given, and you get to really respond to it in an honest and emotional way. That was very refreshing.
Yeah, I had so much fun with this movie. When we were done, I almost wished it had been a TV show so I could keep doing it. But it was so much fun, and when I had questions about the weapons, we had an ex-LAPD officer that trained us in how to handle the weapons so that we looked like law enforcement, it wasn’t just like, let me raise my hand and shoot the gun. Yeah, that’s not how you do it. Because I learned all this, I ended up going to film another movie after The Last Stand, and I was playing a woman who was not experienced in that at all, and I had to pick up a gun and shoot somebody that was going to hurt me, and I picked it up like a cop and just shot it. They went, “You can’t do that!” [Laughs] “Oh yeah, sorry.” “Try it one-handed, because then you won’t be tempted to use both hands.” So I put my arm behind my back and did it. But yeah, the training made a difference. It made me feel more confident in my character too, because I’m not a huge gun person.
What movie was this that you were shooting afterwards?
I did a movie with Luc Besson’s company, EuropaCorp, called Intersection. It was a lot of fun. We shot that in the Sahara desert down in Morocco. Yeah, it’s different.
I was thinking about this while I was watching The Last Stand. They’re working on not one but different all-female versions of The Expendables…
I’ve heard about it.
Oh yeah? Have you heard about it from the source? Have they actually offered you this, because I can’t imagine they wouldn’t.
[Laughs] I’ve heard about it from a few different people, so we’ll see what happens. I’d love to take part in it.
I certainly hope you’d get to. Obviously, it’s an entirely different scale of production from Thor or Thor: The Dark World, did Thor prepare you for The Last Stand or was it a whole different experience?
It’s a different experience, but it did prepare [me]. I got extremely fit for the first Thor movie. I don’t think… I kind of really put fitness on a backburner in my early 20s. I just didn’t care.
So have I!
[Laughs] Are you in your early 20s?
No, but I’ve done it throughout my entire 20s.
That’s the thing. I just didn’t care. I’m so sick of having to focus on what I look like physically, I just didn’t care. But then I realized, let me go at it in a way of, I have to be physically strong enough to lift something that weighs 25 lbs. and hold it in one hand, or whatever it was in Thor that I did. I was curling 25 at the time. I know it doesn’t look like it now. [Laughs] But I did. Just doing that sort of thing got me into, okay, this is what it takes to train again. I experienced that in high school, because I was a female wrestler, and the training that I did for that prepared me for Thor, however many years later, and then Thor prepared me to know, okay, this is X amount of days, let’s keep ourselves healthy. Let’s up the amount of protein in my diet, and get in the gym. Actually, it’s funny, I’m going through that now, trying to get my action figure back – no pun intended, but pun intended – you know, I hurt my spine really bad on the second Thor, and it put me out production for like a month and a half.
I’m sorry. Are you feeling better?
I am great. I did everything I could to heal fast, went into physical rehab every day. Marvel’s great. They look after me really well, and so now I’m starting to get back into the gym, but I lost a lot of weight. I lost a lot of muscle because of not being able to physically move. So I’m getting back into it, and Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and I were trading physical fitness tips earlier down at the press conference. [Laughs] We talk about it all the time.
I just watched his video from the 80s, where he was teaching women how to get “firm buttocks.” He really annunciates “buttocks.” He’s really concerned about the buttocks.
Yeah, he’s hilarious. Yeah, we were talking about the TRX band and a lot of the stuff that he uses that I actually use, because he’s been injured so many times, he knows how to recover from that. I’ve been learning a lot from him.
For the rest of your shoot on Thor, do you have a lot that’s going to strain your back?
I’m done. I finished, yeah. I actually did most of my major action sequences before the injury happened, so I was very lucky, and then l, luckily, in filming, originally had a break for about a month. So it worked out very well.
You injured yourself at exactly the right time.
Yeah, if I had to have injured myself, I’m glad I did it then and not earlier. So I went back and just started working again with a trainer, and just started lifting weights again. I dislocated my left shoulder, and herniated a disc up here, tore my rhomboid on my right side… Yeah, it was pretty bad. But, the corset I wear in the movie definitely acted as a back brace, so I was good to go! Good to go.
Are you contracted for a bunch of those or are they going on a movie-by-movie basis?
Contracted. How many have they got you for?
[Holds up seven fingers.]
Seven? They really like you.
The thing is with Marvel, they really want to cover their bases, and they’re smart to do that. So they option people for a certain number of films to make sure that they have you, because they want you. They want you to be in it if you’re a character. They don’t want somebody else to play your character unless they absolutely have to. So I said, yeah, absolutely, signed it and there you go. Just in case there are that many, that’s the way they do it. Not to say there will be that many, but yeah.
Has that ever been a problem? Were you doing another project and then Thor: The Dark World came up?
Almost. Luckily for me it got pushed quite a bit, because I was still in Africa, and in Africa I had lost quite a bit of weight because there wasn’t a lot of food to eat. [Laughs] I really wanted to put on some muscle, but you can’t get fish or any kind of lean proteins there as much, so I was like, man, I need a good month and a half or so to gain my weight back for Thor and try to put on some muscle. And then we ended up pushing three months, two months or something, and I was like, perfect, we’re going on vacation. Ate a lot of food. Problem solved.
I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. It sounds like you’re putting yourself through hell.
I like it. There’s a part of me that loves it. I wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise.
My job requires me to sit at home and watch TV, so I’m in the right place.
[Laughs] I want to do that!
I’ve been staring at your tattoos. What are these tattoos?
That’s where the black makeup came from. I knew I had that all over my body somewhere. This one [the letter’s “ES”] means “Elephant Shoe,” because if you mouth it, you say, “I love you.” Get it?
I said it since I was a kid, so I got that one. This [other] one’s becoming removed, so we’re not going to talk about that one. I have my four brothers’ initials on my right arm. Brady, David, Chance and Matt. And this one’s from this play that I first read, the very first play I read, called Stairs to the Roof by Tennessee Williams. [Laughs] I got this tattoo and had no idea that I guess Angelina Jolie has the same one? Ironically. But it’s “A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages.” I heard she had it. It’s a pretty well known play, and it’s a great quote. For me it means, a prayer that people want to break out of their shell, that are being kept in their shell by someone or themselves, get to break out of it.
That’s good for an actor.
Yeah, I figured. Yeah. It’s light and petite, and not a lot of people notice it!
Was part of the appeal of this project just getting to work with Schwarzenegger?
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. [Laughs] But for me, I go to the script first and then I look at who’s involved. I don’t care, the money and whatever, that’s a side note because I don’t want to do something I don’t enjoy. I’ve done that before and I was miserable. So I went, I’m going to look at the script first, and this is awesome. She’s funny, she’s a smart ass, she stands up for what she believes in, there’s a lot I can do with her there. And I like that she’s not really meant to be the hot girl in the movie, and I don’t like playing that anyway. It’s awkward for me.
Well, you do it anyway.
Well, it’s awkward as hell for me, so I try to stay away from that. I wanted her to have not any makeup on, normal…
Didn’t make any difference whatsoever, I’m sorry.
[Laughs] I love you! Elephant shoe. So that was the thing. I was like, this girl, I don’t want her to be in a push-up bra. She needs to look like, A) she can kick someone’s butt, and B) she doesn’t have time to do her hair and makeup and that kind of crap. I know it’s a film, but you know. Usually I’d just wake up and go, and they’d sort of tweak my hair a little bit, certain things. Light makeup, cover a few tattoos, and I was good to go.
Your hair is amazing. How do you keep it so healthy? I was watching this movie and thinking, “What does she do to her hair?!”
Want to know a secret?
This is fake!
I have short hair right now, because I cut it for a film. So what I did was, I started missing my long hair so I added hair in there. But my hair originally was pretty healthy. I have to dye it a bit darker than this for Thor, and in this installment of Thor I wear a wig because my hair was too short. So there you go. I mean, it’s all natural and I moisturize my hair. I condition it, yeah. I brush it. A hundred times a day.