Busier than a hooker on Valentine’s Day last week, I assigned Drew Turney the (not-so-difficult) task of talking to the lovely Rachel Nichols for me. Nichols, who you’ll know from TV-ville (“Alias”, “The Inside”) was in Sydney to promote the comic-book inspired “G.I Joe” – and in this one-on-one chat with Moviehole’s Drew, you’ll get the full low-down on it. Enjoy the chat…
Is she just another hot babe clad in black leather in a tentpole toy movie or something more? After some ‘I know her, she’s that girl’ roles in everything from teen chick flicks (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2) to sci-fi (Alias, Star Trek), I ask just who Rachel Nichols just who she thinks she isâ€¦
Drew: How hands on were you in the production?
Rachel: Very much so. Stephen [Sommers, director] loves to put the actors in the stunts and scenes as much as possible and I did everything they’d allow me to. It was really hard work but all of us got along so well that it didn’t feel as hard as it was and we had a really good time.
Drew: There were obviously a lot of digital effects in the film, so how many stunts could there possibly have been for you to take part in?
Rachel: You’re right there was a fair amount that had to be CGI but people don’t realize how much was actually real. The sequence where there are cars and hummers flying through the air? We actually did that. I think we set some sort of record for launching the most cars into the air for any movie. There were a lot of real explosions and there was a lot of real water, believe or not.
There’s the scene where the underwater bunker is about to explode and I’m running out in a slo-mo shot and they actually dumped 500 gallons of water into that bunker during the take. I had to time it perfectly, knowing when I saw the water coming down that I had to start running. So a lot of it is actually real.
Drew: It’s very much a boy’s movie, full of explosions, toys and hot girls in leather. How much of a crossover do you think there’ll be in female audience members?
Rachel: First of all, you got two really kick-ass girls in the movie. And I like to think Scarlet [Nichols' character] is a role model. But you’ve also got Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans and those boys aren’t hard on the eyes. So I don’t think women are going to have a problem watching the movie. Plus it’s not only action, shoot ‘em ups and killing people. There are two really sweet love stories. There’s the Baroness/Duke love story which is difficult and dark and arduous and there’s this really sweet romance between Ripcord and Scarlet. I think women will actually really like the movie because it’s not just an action flick, there’s so much more to it.
Drew: Did that sort of stuff appeal when you read the script or was it all the action and thrills?
Rachel: It was all of it, just the sheer magnitude of it. I actually went through the audition process and met with Stephen but I hadn’t read the script until after I’d been offered the job, but then I was even more excited after reading the script just because I’m a huge fan of explosions and the effects and all of that. But I was also a fan of the character development and the relationships and the idea that there are so many faces that could go in future films.
One of the hardest things about doing the movie is where there’s a certain legacy. Some people are worried it’s going to ruin their childhood memory of GI Joe. But this film remains true to the original franchise and will keep the fans it always had and create new ones of children and teens who have no real idea about what GI Joe is (or was). So it’s going to hopefully bridge the gap between the two groups and then everybody will come see it.
Drew: Did you know much about the whole mythology in GI Joe before reading the script and signing on?
Rachel: I didn’t know a lot of it. I mean, once they started the auditioning and I got offered the film I did some research on Scarlet and her back story, but I was more of a Barbie girl growing up, so that was something I had to start fresh.
Drew: Maybe if GI Joe had been on the scene he would have been sitting down having tea with Barbie or something?
Rachel: Well I do have to say my brother played with GI Joe and they always dated Barbie because he could kick Ken’s ass.
Drew: I’m sure Barbie could stand up for herself though when called on for?
Rachel: Oh well totally. I mean, Barbie could totally kick butt too but she thought GI Joe was just a little cooler than Ken.
Drew: Any worries about type casting?
Rachel: No. I love action. Alias had a lot of action which was great and that’s why I started to learn fight scenes and weapons training. And this is just totally, totally different from other films that I’ve done and my next choices will be different from this one. And it wouldn’t be the worst thing to be type cast as extraordinarily smart, bad-ass, butt kicking kind of girl.
Drew: Was it more of an acting challenge because the set was so fast and furious and the focus is a lot more on the action? Do you not have much room to bring to the performance because of that?
Rachel: I got really lucky because yes, a lot of the time the action is so fast paced and so much is going on at once and the dialogue is quick one-liners which actually tend to be very difficult to get across. I’d rather do a long speech than a couple of one-liners. You have to work to make them authentic.
There are also scenes where we got to bring a lot to the table. There’s a tender moment between Ripcord and Scarlet after she’s lost her fight with the Baroness and we had an opportunity to expand on our characters and not have it be rushed because things were blowing up and motor cycles are flying through the air. So it was a pretty good split.
Drew: Because the mythology isn’t like Batman or Superman where everybody knows the story behind these characters, did you feel like it gave you freedom to bring a bit more than you read into Scarlet or that you came across in your research?
Rachel: Yeah, definitely. In Batman and Superman there’s such a high expectation and visibility level. The GI Joe franchise has so many different characters they could chose in future movies. But there was a strong expectation of what Scarlet needed to look like, which of course I completely understand, but as far as personality and the relationship with Ripcord, I got to be flirty and sweet and charming. It was definitely nice to have that leeway because I certainly didn’t feel as though there was a lot expected from her personality wise.
Drew: Everyone’s going to be watching what you do next after such a big movie. Do you feel the pressure?
Rachel: It’s fine. I work very, very well under pressure.