Death Race 2 has all of the brutal fight scenes and testosterone-charged car crashes any action-movie fan could ever want. But the film manages to balance all that brawn and machismo with the right amount of brains and beauty. Enter Lauren Cohan, who portrays a smoking-hot, ratings-hungry TV producer that broadcasts the death races for big reality show profits.
If you recognize the Philly-born, Surrey, England-reared Cohan (she’s got a full-on British accent) from her stint a few years back as the cagey Bela on CW’s Supernatural, you’ll know that she’s more than capable of bringing the ruckus. When she wasn’t on-camera playing her scheming character, Cohan chatted with CraveOnline on-location in Cape Town, South Africa, where she told us all about how she dug deep to get to the mean-spirited essence of her sexy but sinister role.
CraveOnline: Starring in a movie like Death Race 2 has got to be a great way for a you as a young actress to gain some valuable experience. How did you get into acting?
Lauren Cohan: Didn’t ever consider anything else. I did modeling, but it wasn’t like I was doing that and thought about acting. I did modeling when I was at university, and then completed university and worked for a theater company for a bit, and then started acting in film. I got this agent, did an audition and started acting within weeks I flew to
CraveOnline: How’s it been shooting in
Lauren Cohan: Incredible…I never actually would have thought of it. Africa is obviously totally on my list, but I hadn’t really planned to come to southern
CraveOnline: How are excited are you to be working on set here?
Lauren Cohan: I’m actually really excited to see the movie, because the way Roel shoots and the resourcefulness of the whole project, you wouldn’t believe it was $6 million or whatever the budget actually is. It’s just so great with him, because he’s never missing a chance to catch something else which might otherwise have taken so much longer to get. He’s never stopping. He’s quick on his feet. It’s more than that, he’s just got so much energy and I think that’s the stuff that a budget is not going to help you get, a budget is not going to help a movie have that pace and gravity and…you feed off that. Helping us just do it and get on with it…this is the least pretentious environment I’ve ever been in. It’s been a really cool experience for me, because it’s just about the job.
CraveOnline: What’s your character like? She has a pretty cool name, at least.
Lauren Cohan: Yeah September Jones. She’s just terrible. She’s a mean girl. She’s just really ambitious and she just wants to carve out a career, make a name for herself. She loses sight along the way of what she’s doing to gain that. She’s kind of the extreme of reality TV presentation. Talking herself very seriously, taking her job really seriously…and anyone who stands in her way, she can’t even comprehend why that’s happening.
CraveOnline: Not to give away too much of the finer plot points, but what leads up to her getting involved in death racing?
Lauren Cohan: My character works for Ving Rhames’ [prison warden] character. Weyland. Mr. Weyland. I don’t even know if we know his first name. He runs this whole thing. He has this TV network. It’s not really going anywhere. He doesn’t count on it to make him any money, and to me it’s just prime for the picking. By chance, I see this riot amongst the prisoners and it just kind of clicks, a light bulb goes off in my head that there’s going to be good cash. So I get him to take a chance on me and throughout the story our ratings are coming and going and it’s really a case of keeping the momentum going.
CraveOnline: So September’s the brains behind the operation?
Lauren Cohan: She’s basically orchestrating the whole thing. She has the idea for the whole show, the first match she does is Death Match where she randomly quote-unquote picks fighters to fight each other, but she really just wants to get Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) in the ring, and she thinks she can make a star out of him because it’ll be good for the ratings. It basically escalates to this death race. It’s a combination of this reality TV show, NASCAR, and boundless violence we can watch involving these convicts. She’s controlling it to the extent where she’s giving some of these cons power over the other, getting them to fight and everything, some have weapons where some others’ [weapons] are taken away. She’s creating that drama, doing it from a control room where she’s safe.
CraveOnline: You seem so pleasant. Were there challenges you faced in playing such a self-involved, ultra-ambitious personality?
Lauren Cohan: For me, it was more of a case of just thinking of something that’s really important to me, something that I want to gain. And not even acknowledge what I’m asking people for. As if I’m asking a favor which is an actually really menial favor when what I’m saying is, “so you know you need to kill this person because they’re really annoying me right.” Also just watching a lot of presenters, and watching news and journalists and presenters in a specific way and having that voice—knowing how to sensationalize an event. Like Fox News making you want to get excited about something, or exploiting something…
CraveOnline: Fan of reality TV?
Lauren Cohan: I was a fan of Big Brother when it first started, when it was a new thing, you’re just watching real people and it’s transfixing. I try not to watch it now, because I find it addictive. I try not to watch it now, because I find that reality TV is in a lot of ways stopping us from doing stuff that’s more interesting and creative, and making things that are interesting and creative and I don’t know if I want to support it in a way.
CraveOnline: Did you see first Death Race movie? What did you think?
Lauren Cohan: I loved that. I read the script for this one before I saw that movie and I really like that movie. Really excited that this film had more, it has a kinda romantic story with Katrina and Luke, this villainous character, you get more of her and you alos get this fun side, which is all like theatrical presenting of the show, totally has an on-air personality. That’s how they compare. I think the other film is great, and has created a really strong audience.
CraveOnline: Does it matter to you that this one has a DVD and not a theatrical release?
Lauren Cohan: It’s funny. Maybe for a hot second I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t going to be a theatrical thing, but then you look at a film like Death Race, everybody’s seen it or heard about it. I said if the point of doing this is to get to be seen, then you want people to see it. People are going to see it, but in their homes.
DEATH RACE 2 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/18.