Ali Larter, gotta love her. Whether she's walking around in a whipped cream bikini or dodging Death's master plan, the girl has a way about her that just pulls you in. She's now picked up the unenviable task of bringing beloved RESIDENT EVIL character Claire Redfield to life. How does she handle the challenge? Read on to find out!
So I see you're going to be a red head for the role?
For people who are truly passionate about the games it's important to have that resemblance to Claire Redfield. They have an idea of what they want her to be. The red hair is just one more thing to help bridge that gap, and get them to take the journey with me.
So do you spend any time in the cycling skinsuit from the game?
No, no, and I'm so glad about that because we're really just travelling in the desert and trying to survive. If you look at it, you can stop at different stores to pick up clothes that you need when you're living in these grave circumstances. So it's like cargo pants, tank top, baseball cap, sunglasses - anything that's realistic that I would have.
What are you shooting today?
Alice has just arrived and saved us from the attack from the crows, and we've just had a conversation about how I feel about her entering into our convoy. Really the discussion is that there's a journal with some entry saying that there's an area in Alaska that's safe, that the infection hasn't reached yet.
At this point I've become the leader of this convoy and it's my job to keep these people safe. I'm not worried about characters that are strong. I'm worried about ... there are mothers and children, and if they'd be able to make that journey. She knows I've been doing my best to keep these people alive, and so the question is what's the best move for us at this point.
The look of the second movie was very much like a video game. Will that be the same this time around?
Not at all. I think with this movie they're going in a different direction. It's taking on a more realistic, or hyper-realistic world. We're out in the desert now. We're not confined to a certain area, so I think that opens things up. For me I'm glad because with the video games there's the mythology, but this gave me a chance to develop what I thought made the most sense for this character in this world.
How much action do you get in the movie?
Not as much as Alice. Alice gets to kick ass! She's this amazing figure. It's incredible. I have a barretta and knives, but my role isn't as much the action and the fighting of it. It's keeping everything together, organizing it, more of like a general. But I do have a couple of run-ins with the undead and I shoot the shit out of them.
Did you have any gun training?
We did a little bit. I've worked with guns before and it's just so fun. Our stuntman was amazing and made it as believable as possible. And I think it is. I've seen some of the dailies and they're beautiful, just beyond my expectations.
Can you talk about coming into this franchise on the third picture?
Definitely. Going into a franchise that's been successful, especially one where there's an incredibly strong female lead, you wonder how are they going to feel about you coming in and how are you going to be treated. Milla was nothing but amazing. She is so cool. She is so fun. Creatively I think we work really well together too.
The other side of it, and this is why I did this movie, is it is a departure from the first two. I think it's a fresh take on the genre. They brought in a bunch of different characters and it's really a story about survival, and family, and what you would do at this point in the world. So it's not just a shoot'em up. There's a lot more going on and that's what drew me to it.
Since Alice arrives and sort of saves the convoy, is it a little bittersweet for Claire that Alice is there?
I wouldn't say bittersweet. At this point, where they are, it's all about survival. So if you can come in and you can help us, then please do. The other side of it is that I've been taking care of these people, and it's all about protecting their lives. So when they first come together, it takes a little while to earn each other's trust.
But these are grave circumstances so there's no time for getting jealous. How can you help each other? Are you going to put us in danger? If you are then you need to leave. If you can help us, stay. It's not about making you feel good. It's about what can we do to get through this day.
How big is the convoy before it starts getting whittled down?
It started about 60, and then by the end of it there's only a few of us left.
So you're still a part of it by the end?
I am. We get through Vegas. We get to a helicopter and we're taking off with the kids after we've lost so many people. It's what keeps this movie at such a high level. It's like people that you see as family, and you keep losing people every day. It's very emotional and tense.
But with this movie, the way Paul has decided to end it, it's me and K-Mart and a couple of kids from the convoy, and it ends with that universal feeling of hope. Because kids represent hope. By moving on to the next place it gives a feeling that everything's going to be OK.
So I presume this means that Carlos dies a noble death.
Yes he does. Poor guy.
But he dies well?
Yes he does. It's amazing.
Have you played any of the games?
I haven't. I'm not good at video games. I'm just learning about the whole mythology.
Did they do anything specific to prep you?
They didn't. I think they're really keeping it separate. They're taking a very different approach than with the second one and I think that's why they did that. I feel like it's a very different direction, and we're living in a sort of real world situation.
Had you seen the first two films?
Was the Mexicali shoot in the desert the most difficult shoot you've ever done?
Probably. I've worked in such extreme environments. I was in India for 3 months. For American Outlaws I was in Texas in the summer and it was just incredibly hot, but everyone on this movie is excited to be down here. I think sometimes people just phone it it, or just come in for the paycheck, but this movie everyone is doing their best to elevate the material.
When somebody's getting tired, or getting down, then the other one pops in and does what they need to do to get them back up. And it helps that we really do all like each other. I know that it'll really show that we bonded. We just have a great time together.
Where does that desire come from? Does it come from Russell?
This time, I think it comes from the actors. It's different on every movie. We talk about it a lot, and keep a very open dialogue, we talk about how we're feeling. It's just been really great. Maybe they'll show you some dailies and it'll prove it.
There you can see the DP's work, shooting it like Jarhead, and you can just imagine the dunes, and shadows, and suspense that you can find through daylight. It's really amazing.
You've been in a number of genre films. What keeps bringing you back to it?
Strong women. I was thinking about that today. I don't pick movies because of genre or what it is. I pick movies because of character, or the director, or the writing. Those are the three that really draw me. So I love strong women, and there are two in this movie. I mean where else do you see that? It's so rare.
Was there anything in the shooting that has scared you?
I don't know about scared me, but I love the adrenaline, because I'm an intense person. You live in the moment and you're reacting off shit that's fast. I love that. But with this movie they've also added an extra element of heart to it, that I hope is going to make people love this movie.
How do you balance the types of movies you do as far as studio vs. indie?
Well for me I just moved back to Los Angeles from New York in January. I'd taken a couple of years off because I worked so much at the beginning of my career that I needed to figure out who I was outside of this business. Kind of grow up a little, travel, and find my own identity away from Hollywood.
Now comng back to it, and even last year, I did three independent films that took me from India back to Los Angeles and then Texas. They were all these incredible roles that fulfilled me so much creatively. But you also don't know if they're ever going to find a market. That's the realistic side of things. I never look to see how a film is going to do while we're shooting it. I prepare for the role, shoot it, and let it go. I think those movies really served me and gave me what I needed at that time in my life.
The other side now is that I'm shooting this huge genre movie, and there's something really exciting to me about doing the type of movie that people love. That gives them sheer energy. So figuring out that balance, and I don't know if I'll ever find it, but right now I'm just giving it my best shot.
It seems like Claire really has a role to fulfill for all of the people in the convoy.
Yeah, one of things that drew me to Claire was that she does play a role with everyone. Very much a sister role, but to some of the younger kids, a mother role. If you look at Carlos they are buddies, confidants. They deal with everything together. And LJ, who kind of crushes on my character. There's this banter too, despite where they are in the world. And that's why I love Claire, because she really gives everyone what they need. She keeps them filled with hope, or some kind of base of reality - that human relationship that we all need.
Can you talk a bit about the crow attack?
Sure. It's unfortunate when we were shooting that they were mostly fake birds, and they looked real...not really...but then you realize what they're going to do with them, and what they're going to fill in with CGI. Because what they can do with technology is extraordinary, but as actors we don't get to see that.
They also have these small helicopters zooming in and around us while we were shooting which really brought this energy to the scene and captures the view of the crows. It just brings one more dynamic to this movie. It's like pull out all the stops, and they're getting the best people to create this world. It'll keep the audience glued to their seats.
While I wasn't always able to follow Larter's train of thought, it's clear her heart is in the right place, and her heart-shaped booty is well loved by the tailored cargo pants she wears throughout the movie. More than enough to get me in the theater. And the whole project really does sound pretty awesome.