by Luke Goodsell
on Wednesday, Jan. 18 2012, 01:27 PM
History is littered with the corpses of sports champs whose bids for movie immortality have been dubious at best; for every Hong Kong martial arts superstar and Austrian bodybuilder there are scores of straight-to-video beefcakes lacking the onscreen charisma to match their real-life skills. Rarer still is the successful female action hero crossover, but this week -- with the somewhat unlikely help of genre-shifting filmmaker Steven Soderbergh -- a new one arrives in the shape of Gina Carano, former Mixed Martial Arts fighter and now star of her very own spy thriller, Haywire.
The story goes that Soderbergh caught one of Carano's fights on TV one evening and couldn't believe the talented -- and visually striking -- fighter wasn't headlining her own movie. So, with the help of screenwriter Lem Dobbs (The Limey) and a supporting cast of thespian eye-candy that includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum and Michael Douglas, he set about putting together an action vehicle for Carano, in which the fledgling actress plays a CIA-trained assassin on the loose and out to avenge those who double-crossed her. With its minimalist plot, punishing (yet expertly-staged) fight choreography and throwback thriller cool, Haywire is the kind of film that seems almost too good to be true in the movie release graveyard of January -- and, if fate smiles upon it, should make a new action hero of its leading lady. We had the chance to chat with Carano about the movie recently; but first, she ran through five of her all-time favorite films.