Pulling Punches at the Haywire Premiere

Published January 19, 2012

ABOVE: STEVEN SODERBERGH, GINA CARANO, AND EWAN MCGREGOR AT THE HAYWIRE AFTERPARTY. PHOTO COURTESY OF NICK HUNT/PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM

It was with a thoroughly whetted appetite that Interview approached last night’s premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, hosted by Cinema Society and BlackBerry Bold. Our revealing interview with its star, former professional mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, had just run, and having heard Carano’s side of the story of how she ended up on the film, we wanted to hear Soderbergh’s.

“I wasn’t nervous; I knew she wasn’t going to hit me,” Soderbergh said of the four-hour lunch the two shared before he decided to cast her in the role of Mallory Kane. “I was trying to get a sense of her. If I was contemplating building a movie around her, I needed to get a sense of: Is this somebody I’m going to want to spend 18 months with? What’s her story, is she gonna be cool? So we talked for a long time before I said, ‘Okay, look, this is what I want to do: to create a character in a film totally centered on you; are you up for that?'”

Thankfully, Carano was, and the movie is a sleek, intense paean to her top-flight kinesthetic capability—so top-flight, in fact, that her costars Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and Channing Tatum, no slouches in the physical-fitness department, had to train long and hard to catch up. “We had to do training with a guy who was a special operative in the Israeli army,” McGregor explained, “And he taught us our espionage training. When he was doing that, he’d follow us around and stuff in his car; he could jump out at any moment. That made [me] a bit paranoid.”

Later, doffing Don Julio cocktails at Sons of Essex for the afterparty, we were keeping an eye out, too: onetime teenybopper Aaron Carter had confided before the film that he himself had ten years of martial-arts training, and that he thought he could probably take on any of the film’s stars. “Gina, I’ll take on Gina,” he’d laughed. But since no punches were thrown—to our knowledge—we’ll just have to assume that after having seen the film, he revised his opinion.