Film & TV

Gina Carano: A Knockout Both In and Out of the Ring

Film & TV

Gina Carano: A Knockout Both In and Out of the Ring

dress VINTAGE AZZEDINE ALAIA and cape (worn as veil) VINTAGE (provided by THE WAY WE WORE); ring CHARLES ALBERT

BULLETT: What convinced you to give acting a shot?

GINA CARANO: When I was a little girl, I used to think, If somebody only knew what I was capable of. I didn’t even know what it was at the time, but when you dream big, you eventually attract big things. I don’t look “Hollywood,” and so I figured that if something were to come to me, it would probably come from a director asking me to be a part of their project. And that’s exactly what happened, which is really crazy. [Laughs.]

You did all of your own stunts for Haywire. Do you think that forced your co-stars—Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Channing Tatum—to consider you in a different light?

I think they considered me in a different light because they knew that I was new to their profession, but not new to being physical. They taught me how to act; I took care of them during the stunts. I think they all wanted to do their own stunts with me because they knew that I would take care of them. The adrenaline on set was that of getting in a great fight—but I didn’t even have to hurt anybody.

Do you think that people will perceive you as being more complex after seeing this film?

I would love that. I’m attracted to any type of endeavor that gives me the chance to express what’s going on inside me. I’ve never been that great at putting things into words and so, when I was little, I decided to use my body to express myself. I started with dance, but I quickly moved into sports, and then into fighting after high school.

You once said, “Fighting is like sex in its intensity, as an exchange of energy between two people.” When you’re in the ring, do you feel as if you and your opponent are connecting in a way that only the two of you can understand?

I think that fighting is similar to sex in that people have to let their guards down—well, some people do and some people don’t. The secret is chemistry. When two people are attacking each other, that chemistry is definitely going to come out in an interesting way. When you fight someone, you share the experience with that one person, and you’re never going to have that experience with someone else—even in another fight. I always have this weird connection with them. It really is like we had sex. I’ll always know how many people I fought.

Do you do much research into those against whom you’re fighting?

Yes, if I’m going to fight her, I want to know who she is: Does she drink? Does she have a boyfriend? Is she secure? Does she love attention? Does she love being sexy? Does she wish she were a straight male?

Those characteristics manifest themselves in the ring?

Yeah, totally. If you’re feeling good about yourself and you’re feeling sexy, then the last thing you want to do is fight. It’s my job to figure out their weaknesses.

With that in mind, do you have weaknesses that you’d rather hide from your competitors—and, now that you’re starring in your first film, the media?

Not exactly, but generally I don’t like when people project onto me their image of what they think I should be. I don’t ever want somebody telling me who or what they think I am.

To capitalize on a potential weakness in an opponent, you should create a false image of yourself and then surprise them with the opposite.

Oh, that’s been my main thing. They sit there and look at my tapes and my interviews, and they have no idea. When they actually meet me they’re like, “Oh, you’re for real.” [Laughs.] But I like to keep that a secret. I’m a really private person, actually. I don’t ever want to sell out. I don’t always need a car to pick me up at the airport. I love having my sister pick me up, and then staying on her couch. I love to have intimacy, and the more your name gets out there, the less of it you have. I hate that.

Do you think that our bodies can ever hide or alter who we are beneath the skin?

The human body is the most incredible creation on this earth, and everyone is always capable of doing way more—it’s our minds that are weak, or that say we can’t do something. Look at how many people have had cancer and have beaten it, or who have one leg but still run in the Olympics. I think the mind can weaken the body, which is, in my mind, the most creative thing on this planet.

There’s a transcendentalist thought that argues, “Outward abstinence is a sign of inward fullness.” Do you agree?

Absolutely not! I think that God put us on this earth to live and experience, and that’s what we’re supposed to do. The problem is that we’ve taken everything to such extremes: drugs, alcohol, food, and sex. I feel bad for people who are like, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” They end up having all these weird quirks—they’re so uncomfortable to be around. We’re human beings, and if you cut yourself off here, it’s going to pop out somewhere else.