Townsville Bulletin

Another piece of the action



Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fascinated with the idea of “feminine rage” right now. The former child actor is on an action-movies roll, with asskicking credits in Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, superhero spin-off Birds of Prey with Aussie Margot Robbie and now as a wronged assassin on a bloody quest for revenge in the Netflix thriller Kate, from the same stable as the successful John Wick franchise.

“I am very drawn to the idea of feminine rage in general,” the former child star says, while pondering her current career trajectory. I am drawn to characters who are trying to put an end to some sort of cycle in their life or the life of future generation­s, which is something we see with Kate.

“It’s saying no to anything that is sort of toxic or unhealthy or abusive and that kind of thing.

“I am drawn to the power that comes out of that and putting a stop to things in the past that aren’t right.”

Action movies have long been a part of Winstead’s life – she grew up in a “popcorn movie family” and was inspired by female trailblaze­rs like Sigourney Weaver in Alien and Linda Hamilton in The Terminator – and her own eclectic career has been dotted with fight-heavy films such as the criminally overlooked Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Thing and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Winstead says she didn’t

specifical­ly set out to emulate those early heroes but has always loved bringing a physicalit­y to her roles. “I started out as a dancer and I really loved getting to tell stories through dance and through movement, and there is something about fighting that feels like that to me,” she says.

“Especially with Kate, it felt very emotional and a part of her emotional story and her arc. So, it all kind of aligns with acting to me and I really love getting to meld the two in a way that feels like one.”

Winstead was first approached about playing the title role in Kate while working on Birds of Prey, in which she played the crossbowto­ting, vengeance-fuelled Helena Bertinelli, aka The Huntress, who teams up with Robbie’s magnificen­tly deranged Harley Quinn to take down a crime kingpin. The two movies shared a producer as well as stunt coordinato­r Jonathan “Jojo”

Eusebio – “he’s just the best” – who had helped whip Bird of Prey’s female-driven cast into to shape for its elaborate fight scenes.

Kate – produced by action specialist­s 87North Production­s, the team behind John Wick, Atomic Blonde and this year’s sleeper hit Nobody – required even more of Winstead to play a highly trained killer who takes on the Japanese mafia with guns, knives, fists and whatever else happens to be lying around.

Even with her alreadyest­ablished action credential­s, she wasn’t quite sure she was ready, but says that Eusebio has made a habit of helping her find ways to do things she thought

were impossible. “I was very daunted when I read it, for sure,” she says with a laugh.

“The descriptio­ns of the action scenes in the writing were so brutal, and I just thought: ‘Oh my God, this is going to take a toll on me.’ But there is just something so fun about working with the stunt team; they just make you feel like part of the crew in a way that is really rewarding.

“And even though it was the most difficult it was also the most fun and, in a way, the most effortless, because I was ready for it, so I just got to have a really good time.”

The role also required some very specific weapons training, which Winstead rather sheepishly admits was “unsettling­ly a lot of fun”.

“I didn’t really want to like it as much as I did, but I did enjoy getting to learn how to use different kinds of guns and getting more and more proficient with them,” she days.

“We had a lot of military guys on set who were our security and were also helping with the guns, and making sure we were using them right and safely and all that. When they would give me the thumbs up I would feel pretty proud of myself.”

While Winstead isn’t sure she could take on a squad of bad guys in real life, she’s grateful for the feeling of physical strength that has come with the training. She became a mother for the first time in June, when she and her equally private partner Ewan Mcgregor – whom she met while filming Fargo and who played her nemesis in Birds of Prey – welcomed son Laurie into the world. While she says she’s never been a gym junkie, Winstead is now trying to maintain a base level of fitness that will help her more easily springboar­d into future action roles.

“I definitely used to be somebody who, when I wasn’t working, was not really doing much in terms of exercise,” she says. “But now I am thinking I might continue to do action films and I definitely don’t want to lose the skill set that I have gained.

“So, I try to do strength training just to keep whatever musculatur­e I have gained from doing these films.”

One thing Winstead would definitely be game for is to revive Huntress in some way, whether in a Birds of Prey sequel or some kind of spin-off, and she says she’s hugely excited for castmate Jurnee Smollett, who will star in her own Black Canary movie.

“She created such a great version of that character and I can’t wait to see what they do with it,” Winstead says. “And in terms of Huntress, I loved playing her and loved the version of her that we were able to portray in that film, and it would be very cool if it continued in some way.”

She counts Birds of Prey, which was produced by Robbie and directed by Cathy Yan, as one of her favourite profession­al experience­s, and says there was a “different energy” having a female-driven cast and crew, which she would love to emulate.

“Margot is the best and I totally owe everything to her for being part of that film, because she is so instrument­al in making so many of those decisions,” Winstead says. “There was something really amazing about having so many women on set, especially in a film of that genre where there is so much physical work to be done.

“To be rooting each other on, to be wanting each other to be great and strong, building each other up and just having a good time in a way that I hadn’t really been able to have before, because I was usually the only woman on the set.”

There is just something so fun about working with the stunt team

 ??  ?? Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead and from top right, with partner Ewan Mcgregor; alongside castmates in Birds Of Prey; and taking aim in Netflix thriller Kate.
Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead and from top right, with partner Ewan Mcgregor; alongside castmates in Birds Of Prey; and taking aim in Netflix thriller Kate.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia