When I first watched DEATH RACE, I had no idea who Natalie Martinez was. But while I was watching the hour and a half of car explosions and Statham, I found myself enjoying this girl who seems quite comfortable being the tough chick. No wonder she seems to be placed in such testosterone heavy movies like Death Race.
I had the chance to talk with her one on one about making the film and of course, working with Statham. She also opened up about her spending a couple months in Peru shooting a movie with Shane West. Natalie doesnít seem to be terribly affected by Hollywood at the moment. She is a very down to earth girl that would prefer to spend New Years with her family instead of some club. I appreciate the fact that such an attractive girl seems to really have her priorities straight. I expect big things for Natalie. And you can check her out in Death Race, available now on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Yeah? What did you think?
You know, I saw the original, and I was surprised at how serious it was.
Yeah, it is, huh? [Laughing]
But yeah, I had a good time with it. What was it like for you to play opposite Jason Statham in a picture this big?
It was kind ofÖ especially when you first think about it, itís like a big budget, Universal film. You know, I had the experience with ďFashion Houseď and ďSaints and SinnersĒ, but they werenít big budgets at all. So there was actually a little bit more excitement. And once I got there and met Jason, Tyrese [Gibson] and Jacob Vargas and Ian McShane and everybody, they were like, just so welcoming and really cool. It made it really, really easy for me to kind of just jump in there, you know.
Well what surprised me about the film, is having someone like Joan Allen there, and it is just awesome seeing her in that role.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, she is. She is definitely good in that role.
Itís weird, I had always heard that she was really over the top in it, but I thought she was perfect in it.
I didnít think she was over the top at all.
No, I didnít think so either. I was just really surprised at the serious tone of the film in all aspects.
You know, itís funny because, it is but I was kind of surprised by how many funny parts there were [Laughing]. I saw it, reading it, I guess when Jacob Vargas, you know when he is talking to Ian McShane and Tyrese comes up and heís making these jokes. It was really kind of funny and even Jason has a little bit of humor in it too. Itís kind of like everybody who watches it, I think that is whatís good about itÖ the movie is for everyone. Itís got a lot of action, but its also got that humor where I can find it funny, it has a little bit of everything.
And you get to have some fun. How much did they let you do stunt wise?
I tried to do as much as I could because I love doing all kinds of stunts. But you know, obviously some things werenít safe for me. I mean, I was in the passenger seat and they had the camera in the driver seat with a stunt driver on top, and they were actually crashing into me. Like when Pachenko, I think it was the Buick, it just slammed into me at like forty miles per hour. I did three sixties in the car. When I got ejected out on the seat, I was actually in an ejector seat, they ejected me.
Wow. Thatís cool.
Yeah, so I did a few stunts. Like on the DVD, they are gonna have this sceneÖ I did a scene too, where I got out of a car as the car is moving and people are shooting at me to fix a jam in the gun.
Yes, that is in the film. Thatís an awesome scene where you are trying to un-jam the gun and youíre like smacking it aroundÖ?
Thatís in the film.
Oh wow. ĎCause that didnít happen in the movie.
Okay, cool. Its in the unrated version.
Oh, that was one of my favoriteÖ that was so much fun.
Had you seen the original film?
I didnít watch it, but I saw pieces of it on like YouTube and things like that. But I never got around to actually seeing the whole, complete film. But I know of it, and watching some of it was hilariousÖ like in the beginning when they say, ĎIn the year 2000...í and here we are in 2008.
Well I thought it was an interesting thing about this one is when it claims that it is 2012 and there is a recession and what have youÖ itís kind of terrifying.
I know huh, like two years away. You know what I think it is too with the movie, I feel like DEATH RACE is kind of like a prequel of DEATH RACE 2000. Just because, when you think about it, how do you get to a point where you are running around killing people for points? So maybe this is kind of like how people have taken entertainment this far and it kind of escalated to Death Race 2000.
Now what about working with Paul? Heís got his fans and heís got his, you know, not so much fans. What was it like working with him as a director, especially this being your first major film? How supportive was he for you?
He was basically the reason I got hired. So he was really supportive of me being in there. Heís a really a good director, you know, I had a really good time with him. He was really easy to get along with. And this was like his baby. He was really excited doing this film and with that, he made it a really good work environment because heís so excited about it.
Do you feel that you got a lot of negative press because it is a remake? Were you a little nervous about how fans would react?
Ah, no because itís a remake but it is a different movie. I didnít think there was as much pressure just because there were so many different things being done. And at least we didnít turn it into some glamorous, you know, FAST AND THE FURIOUS kind of thing. We kept it kind of, MAD MAX and stuff like that and I think we did a pretty good job. I think a lot of the fans too, like it.
Again, I had fun with it, even though it wasnít what I expected. You know, you think Roger Corman and you think something completely different. Are you a fan of genre films in general such as horror and sci-fi action?
Not too much. Not that I donítÖ I do watch them. But it is not something that I am a huge fan of. I donít really delve into that kind of area.
What do you prefer?
I like drama a lot. I definitely love comedies and I like period pieces. Iím kind of all over the board with what I like, thatís why I canít say that I am or I am not a fan of sci-fi and horror. I do like horror films too, I do get scared, you knowÖ one of those. But Iím not connected to any kind of genre really.
Obviously with the DVD release of Death Race it must be kind of strange to be coming back and doing press all over again.
You know, itís just that it was like a year ago that we did this.
It seems like it would be bizarre.
Yeah, just kind of talking about things, it kind of makes me want to go call people again. Like, ĎHey, I was just talking about you.í
I know it wasnít a huge success in the theatre but most likely it will do really well on DVD. And it looks as though the Blu-Ray is pretty awesomeÖ
Yeah, I just got back home, I was away for two months, but Iím going to go buy a Blu-Ray DVD player.
Good for youÖ where were you?
I was in Peru.
Shooting a film?
Yeah, I was doing an independent out there. For two months Iíve been in Peru.
Itís called El Dorado for now, I think itís a working title. Itís a treasure hunting movie, where they are trying to find a lost city of gold andÖ itís kind of Indiana Jones-ish. So it was fun.
Who else is in the cast?
Shane West, I play opposite him. And Luke Goss, he was in HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMYÖ
You seem to do a lot of testosterone fuelled movies.
I know, I am [Laughing]. Iím kind of used to it too, because Iím kind of like a ďguyís girlĒ like a tomboy and stuff like that, but itís funny because in this film, again, I was the only girl in the cast. In Death Race we had Joan Allen but in this one, Iím the only girl. Itís kind of fun.
Itís something you likeÖ
Yeah, I donít mind it because people have been really cool and Iím really grateful for the people Iíve worked with have been really respectful. They just kind of take me in, which is nice because we all become friends. I can definitely hang with the boys.
It seems like they might get very protective of you.
Oh yeah, definitely.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com