by Kit Bowen 24 August, 2020
Director Matt Eskandari once again teams up with Bruce Willis for the new actioner Hard Kill.
The film centers on a small mercenary crew, led by Miller (Jesse Metcalfe), hired by a billionaire tech CEO (Willis) to retrieve some valuable tech created by his daughter, Ava, (Lala Kent) from a ruthless terrorist who has stolen the tech – and kidnapped Ava -- in order to throw the world into apocalyptic chaos.
ScreenPicks spoke with WWE star Natalie Eva Marie -- who plays badass mercenary Sasha and part of Miller’s elite crew – about working with weapons, what draws her to acting, and trying not to be intimidated by working with Bruce Willis.
Q: How did you get involved with the project?
Natalie Eva Marie: I had read the script a few years prior as a possible project but then it didn’t happen, and I didn’t think about it again. Until I got the offer because I had done a previous film (Inconceivable) and they had me in their rolodex and knew I could play the part. It was all hands-on deck. My brother-in-law is in the military, serving with the Army. My dad is a Vietnam War veteran in the Marines. I wanted to make these guys proud because they were cream of the crop. Plus, my husband was really excited about this part. I did training with the best in the world, who got me locked and loaded and fully prepared to walk on that set. I mean, I am literally Sasha. And if I’m not, I want to be!
Q: What’s something that surprised you about your weapon training you weren’t expecting?
Marie: In my family, having gun training and awareness was very important. There are so many action movies that you see that are sort of basic fundamentals that are being misused or done improperly. I didn’t want to make those mistakes on this particular film.
But training with these guys that are out there, serving our country and being the best at what they do in the world, I was just blown away by how heavy everything is! I mean, I sweat easily anyways, but I was sweating in 2.5 seconds because you are carrying multiple guns at a time. I know in the film, we are going in bare minimum into the warehouse, but normally, these guys have guns on their legs in their holsters, their rifles or whatever around their shoulders and just the weight in general. Then trying to get the AR up and ready and having it become automatic was a lot harder than I thought. Holding the rifle and not having your neck bend down. And keeping both of your eyes open… just little things like that, I was like, whoa.
Q: Well, naturally, you guys make it look easy.
Marie: That’s the whole point of show business [laughs]!
Q: Speaking of that, you do have a certain amount of showmanship as a professional wrestler, but what is it about acting that draws you to it?
Marie: Just being able to create a whole other character and telling a story. I think coming from WWE, my passion for acting evolved. That’s the ultimate grand stage, where you have to perform live and build an over-the-top character. And you’re on the road 88 days of the year. I fell in love with it as I was creating my own character within in the WWE. The pressure and adrenaline from performing live made me, you got to nail it or you’re going to lose your spot, and you don’t want that. I really just fell in love with that whole process. And being able to tell the story ultimately. So finding projects that have a cool story – a beginning, middle and end – I just wanted to do that in film and TV as well. So far I’ve been able to play to polar opposite characters: One in Inconcievable, definitely not your gun-toting action player. And then you have Hard Kill playing Sasha, who is such as badass.
Q: A total badass. You and Jesse Metcalfe also had some great moments together. How was it working with him?
Marie: Jesse was awesome! He’s definitely a seasoned actor, so I was able to soak up anything that he was giving me. Pointers, advice, things that worked for him while he was on set and doing his character. Soaking it up like a sponge.
Q: I bet you also showed him a few moves!
Marie: [laughs] Let’s just say, I know he was scared of me a little bit. He was like, “Damn, Sasha, take it down a notch. Don’t hurt me!” But it really was a perfect situation for me, Natalie, to walk into. I’m the youngest of all boys, so I was just able to shoot the shit, talk to all the guys like they were one of my brothers. [The other actors] were all cool and able to handle my personality. I also got along fantastically with Lala. There were some long days, but we were able to get together for dinner afterwards, and I think that was really cool. It doesn’t always happen that way but we all had such great chemistry. It was like Groundhog Day: Work all day. Eat dinner. Repeat. And Lala and I would also take the boys to task and break them down. [laughs]
Q: And working with director Matt Eskandari, what was that experience like?
Marie: Matt was unbelievably awesome! He has such an idea of what he wants, a vision on his own, and sometimes when you have an actor with his character, they might see it one way and try to portray that onscreen. If the two don’t have a nice flow on what that character should do, it might be difficult to be around. But Matt, watching him interact with every single person and pull out certain little things, that’s inside them to make the character better, was really cool. He gave me so much confidence with myself, not only just acting but also the evolution of my character. I love Matt and super thankful for his guidance. He’s the real deal.
Q: Eskandari and Bruce Willis have done a few films together. How was it on set with them?
Marie: I mean, I definitely had to keep it together and play it cool because some of my favorite movies are his movies! I was like, “Oh my god, I’m shooting an action film with Bruce Wills? What?” I had to pinch myself to make it real. I did keep it together and was super professional. I watched how he was on set and anything he spoke to me about, I put it into my mental notes and make sure I was paying attention. And also know all my lines, for sure, and super prepared for anything I was doing with him. I’d be damned if it was my fault, if we had to do a retake or something.
Q: Let’s talk briefly about your upcoming TV series Paradise City.
Marie: I cannot wait for everyone to see this! The cast is stacked, from Bella Thorne and [the late] Cameron Boyce, to Drea de Matteo and real musicians – I got really lucky to be a part of this. It’s about rock and roll, it’s musicians, it’s being on the road, it’s love. So many different elements and it’s unique. I think it’s going to be something everyone is going to want to soak in. Fingers crossed it’ll release this fall!
Check out Hard Kill on VOD and Digital today!