With San An­dreas, Carla Gug­ino adds dis­as­ter epic to her wildly var­ied list of cred­its, writes Vicky Roach

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - PLANNER -

From the supermum in Robert Ro­driguez’s PGrated fan­tasy Spy Kids to the les­bian pa­role of­fi­cer in the Mex­i­can direc­tor’s graphic crime thriller Sin City... even Carla Gug­ino ad­mits she’s a hard ac­tor to pin down. “I like to keep my­self in­ter­ested,” she says. Early in her ca­reer, Gug­ino’s eclec­tic list of cred­its — span­ning the Pauly Shore com­edy SonIn-Law, Broad­way pro­duc­tions of Of Mice And Men and Arthur Miller’s Af­ter The Fall, ac­tion fan­tasies Sucker Punch and Watch­men, and TV se­ries such as Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion and En­tourage — con­fused cast­ing agents.

“But one of the perks of age is that it starts to be recog­nised as a body of work,” she says.

At 43, the star of up­com­ing dis­as­ter movie San An­dreas, in which she plays the es­tranged wife of Dwayne John­son’s he­li­copter res­cue pi­lot, is only nom­i­nally show­ing signs of slow­ing down.

“(Act­ing) is the love of my life. I could do it 365 days a year. But I am try­ing to be a lit­tle bit bet­ter at living my life in be­tween,” she says.

Hav­ing gone straight from the set of M. Night Shya­malan’s “dark, cool and com­pli­cated” 10-episode TV thriller Way­ward Pines to the $US100 mil­lion earth­quake movie that takes place on the in­fa­mous Cal­i­for­nian fault line, Gug­ino is hang­ing out to do an­other com­edy.

But de­spite San An­dreas’ gru­elling pro­duc­tion sched­ule, the ac­tor de­scribes mak­ing her third film with John­son (af­ter Race To Witch Moun­tain and Faster) as thor­oughly en­joy­able.

“My char­ac­ter re­ally goes through the wringer, so it’s chal­leng­ing on an emo­tional level — and a phys­i­cal level be­cause I have also been do­ing a lot of stunt stuff,” a cos­met­i­cally bruised and bat­tered Gug­ino said dur­ing a break in pro­duc­tion at Vil­lage Road­show’s Gold Coast’s stu­dios.

“But still there is a very light en­ergy to this pro­duc­tion...I’m hav­ing such a good time ev­ery day even though I have my own ac­tual bruises from the stunts as well.”

While ad­vance pro­mos have con­cen­trated on San An­dreas’s spec­tac­u­lar vis­ual ef­fects — crash­ing ti­dal waves, crum­bling sky­scrapers, crack­ing fault lines — Gug­ino says that at its core, the film is a smaller, hu­man drama

“Even just read­ing the script — it was scary, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat — but it’s also got a huge amount of heart,’’ she says. “I was gen­uinely moved by the jour­ney of th­ese char­ac­ters, and I was not ex­pect­ing to be.”

Hav­ing spent many years living in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Gug­ino is no stranger to earth­quakes.

“When I was about 20, I was in LA in a big one that ter­ri­fied me. It was big enough for a ton of my friends to move out of town. But that didn’t hap­pen for me be­cause … well, I feel the same way about fly­ing. I am like, if it’s my time to go, I am go­ing to go.”

Hur­ri­cane Sandy, how­ever, taught her an im­por­tant les­son. Now based in New York City, Gug­ino ex­pe­ri­enced the full el­e­men­tal force of the de­struc­tive 2012 weather event.

“We live on the tenth floor of an apart­ment build­ing. They had warned us to fill our bath­tubs; ba­si­cally they told us ev­ery­thing we were sup­posed to do — the City was very good about it — and we did noth­ing. So we were with­out power, wa­ter, an el­e­va­tor for eight days. And it was freez­ing. Next time, I will not do that!”

San An­dreas is in cine­mas now

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