Capone continues his series of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE interviews with Ali Larter (who plays Claire Redfield)!!!
Published at: Sept. 7, 2010, 9:50 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with my second of four interviews with the creative team behind RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. Yesterday, I put up my talk with the newcomer to the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, Wentworth Miller, who plays Chris Redfield, brother to Claire Redfield. The character of Claire was introduced in the series' third installment, RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, and is played by a familiar face to the genre world, Ali Larter.
Larter began her film career playing lighter-weight roles in such films as VARSITY BLUES, DRIVE ME CRAZY, and LEGALLY BLONDE. But with HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, she entered the genre world and has rarely left. She later appeared in the first two FINAL DESTINATION films, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, and in 2006 entered into the geek consciousness playing the duel roles of Niki Sanders and Jessica Sanders on "Heroes." In 2007, Larter appeared in 2007's RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, and showed up as the evil temptress a couple years later in too-silly-not-to-watch-at-least-once OBSESSED, opposite Idris Elba and Beyone Knowles.
I'd always thought Larter was attractive, but when you come face to face with her the first time, it really strikes you just how naturally beautiful and personable she is. She loves to converse, and I have a feeling if I'd dived into more personal questions, she would have answered them without batting an eye. The one thing I completely did not notice about her at the time of our interview at San Diego Comic-Con about a month and a half ago was…well, you'll see. Read on, and enjoy Ali Larter…
Capone: Sorry this table is such as mess. It was like this when we got here.
Ali Larter: Well, it looks actually like my lunch table about 10 minutes ago. [laughs]
Capone: It looks like it was attacked by seagulls.
AL: [Laughs] Yeah.
Capone: So what does Claire get to do in this one that she didn’t get to do in the last RESIDENT EVIL that you got excited about?
AL: There were a bunch of things that excited me about this one. The first one being that I feel like when you are making the fourth of any franchise, you have to come up with something new and fresh, “What’s different?” The fact that we were getting the cameras from Cameron’s AVATAR was super exciting. We're the second film to get them. We are not one of these films that’s going into 3D in post. This film was written to be in 3D, and we are the ones who went through the ups and downs of actually shooting it with these new cameras, which is a challenge, but also exciting. I don’t think a lot of times you get to be on the forefront of technology, and we are. So I think that’s very fresh. I love the fact that Paul [W.S. Anderson] was directing.
AL: I mean he is the heart and soul of this franchise--him and Milla--[Jovovich], and he’s always produced and written them, but to come in and work with him… He had directed a few scenes in the last one. He really brings a confidence onto the set that is great for an actor, especially when there’s this much mythology, and when there are certain scenes where they wouldn’t feel like they would make sense and he would either explain them and you get or he would be like, “It doesn’t matter, I need you to do this.” Because in his head, he sees the whole movie and he knows where it fits and that scene may get moved to a different part, and so you just had to take that leap of faith and believe that he’s going to make a badass film.
Capone: So specifically what do you get to do?
AL: Well one of the things that he explored, which I thought was interesting was the fact that she loses her memory and that she has been taken over by Umbrella and she’s got to deal with the repercussions of that. So this movie is kind of a search for her identity. Who is she? Who can she trust? What does she believe? I think that with Claire, one of the things that was really important in portraying her for me was that she was someone who had this hard shell, but she was going to survive at any costs. She was very selfless. She would take care of others. She would put others before herself, but she wasn’t someone that was going to sit and wait behind. She knew what she had to do to survive, where in this movie you kind of see a crack in that veneer a little bit and you see her maybe a little bit more vulnerable at times, and they explore the family dynamic, which I think is really interesting too.
Capone: Right, you have this brother character.
Capone: What was that like? Was that kind of neat that they grew your backstory a little?
AL: Absolutely. I thought that was awesome. It was interesting that it wasn’t “Oh, our long lost brother scene.” It’s like kick-ass RESIDENT EVIL style. I pin him up to the wall, I pull a knife on him, I don’t trust him, I don’t believe him, and so it was definitely done in the right vein. So none of the fanboys can tear us apart with that one.
Capone: I have talked to a few directors this year at this convention who have made 3D movies, and they all said that the only adjustments they had to make with the performances, for 3D, is that things have to be a little more choreographed. You have to make sure that if you are hay-bailing somebody that your arm goes like this. [Extends arm toward the camera]. Did you have any of that?
AL: Absolutely! It’s a different ballgame with that, and that’s why you really have to work closely with the stunt coordinator to make sure that it looks real, because you can’t do these fakes anymore and you can’t just do it by staging, so it was interesting to really learn how you have to land on your marks, you know? If you are three feet forward and you bounce forward, your nose is jutting at someone. So there’s typically some visuals that you can get away with in a movie, because there’s something nice about it being loose. Something that I look for, mostly in these movies is a looseness, something not stiffness of that, but with this and the 3D you really have to be careful.
Capone: Yeah. You have actually carved out a nice little niche for yourself in genre films and television…
AL: Thank you.
Capone: Do you actually like those movies? Are you kind of the geek girl from way back?
AL: It’s funny. It’s like… I just don’t know… A lot of people in Hollywood think that you pick this career. This one kind of picked me a little bit me a little bit, you know?
Capone: But usually you don’t get picked unless you are good at it like the first couple of times you do it.
AL: Right, or that you kickass in real life. I think my husband wishes I wasn’t such a ball buster and such a tough chick [laughs], but that’s how I am in real life, so it’s fun to kind of go and explore that. I love doing stunts. It’s something that I enjoy. I am willing to stay after work, because I want it to look the best that it can look. FINAL DESTINATION was my first kind of experience with the sci-fi world and then coming down to Comic-Con.
Capone: Great movie.
AL: Thanks! They did a great job, but it was also my first experience with the sci-fi fan world, and that’s just a different game. People that are in comedy, I don’t think that they understand the full scope of what it’s like to be in this genre, because it’s incredible. The loyalty, the passion, but also they can be vicious, because they care, so going in and portraying someone like Claire Redfield, you better do a good job, or else they are going to tear you apart in the blogs the next day. So that’s always been important to me.
Capone: And You being a part of "Heroes," with TV it’s almost more passionate than film.
AL: Absolutely, there’s just so much more. Each week, they get to tear us apart. But you know, some of it I agreed with, some of it I didn’t. For me with "Heroes," the first year, it was probably the most extraordinary time of my life. I loved shooting the show. It challenged me as an actress, playing the two characters, starting to do all of those stunts every week, learning just that amount of material. It was really an exciting time, and I think it was just such a special year that I’m really glad I got to be a part of it.
Capone: Do you remember when your character was introduced in the last RESIDENT EVIL, was it kind of strange coming in sort of mid-stream like in the middle of something that’s already so established?
AL: Absolutely, and you know I had watched the two before that, but they all kind of stand on their own too, you know? I had just shot the pilot for "Heroes" and I had been living in New York for about three or four years before that; I hadn’t been working much. I was trying to take a break from the business, figure out if I really wanted to do this and I came back and I remember reading the script and then going in for it and thinking this just sounded like a way to re-seize my power as a woman. You learn something from every character that you play and that was a time in my life where I had to really believe in myself, because no one really else in the business was at that time, so by playing that it kind of made me “get my balls back.”
AL: So it’s been fun and a great ride being part of it.
Capone: Yeah. Do you remember anything specific about this film, like a particular stunt or fight that just kicked your butt harder than anything?
AL: Yeah, I had a great sequence with the Axe Man, which was so much fun. It takes a long time with this 3D. This Phantom camera is incredible. You see playback in slow-motion 3D; it’s really awesome, but it just takes a long time. You start with these grand stunts, and then they kind of get a little bit smaller. [Laughs] But I haven’t seen the final product, so I’m excited to see what Paul did.
Capone: When you did OBSESSED, that was different than what you had kind of done up to that point. There was a little bit of action and fighting in it, but it wasn’t a genre piece. Was that a turning point of sorts for you?
AL: Sure. I was excited to get a chance to do that, because it was definitely in the vein of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, FATAL ATTRACTION, and just to play this femme fatale character was so much fun and you know I actually did a lot of….
[Milla Jovovich walks up and the two begin to compare notes on being pregnant. For the first time since we sat down with Larter, I notice she's sporting something of a baby bump. At the time, she was somewhere in the 4-5 months pregnant range.]
AL: What a beauty.
Capone: Yeah, I’m talking to her later. Can I just say that until you stood up and did that, I didn’t even see that you were pregnant.
AL: Are you kidding me?
Capone: I swear on my life, I didn’t even see it.
AL: I was like, If someone asks me if I’m pregnant, I’m going to be like “Really?" What did you think, that I ate two cheeseburgers?
Capone: You kind of had your hands in front of your body, and you're wearing black, which is slimming I'm told, plus you're sitting down. Plus my powers of observation are apparently on the fritz.
[My photographer chimes in: I can vouch for him, because you were sitting there, and I was like “Maybe she has her purse in her lap or something.”]
AL: I have a baby in here! [Laughs]
Capone: I see that now. Congratulations!
AL: Thank you.
Capone: I would have said something right off the bat if I'd noticed.
AL: Thank you.
Photographer: You're making it work!
AL: [Laughs] I’m rocking it! I’m rocking the whole pregnancy thing.
Capone: Good grief. That’s not a dress a pregnant person wears, so I probably wasn’t even looking at your stomach
AL: That’s too funny. You’ve got to own it.
Capone: Anyway, we were talking about OBSESSED.
AL: The femme fatale, so that was really fun to get a chance to play that role. I was shooting HEROES, you get about a minute and a half off from shooting. It fit in, and I was excited to explore that role. It was also just a lot of fun to play. That actually challenged me a lot too, because there are so many traps, and I really wanted her to be a stand alone character that you would enjoy watching, not just a total knockoff. So, I worked really hard on it, and it’s a movie that’s fun to watch, again. And it ended up on a lot of these "guilty pleasures" lists.
Capone: Idris Elba is one of my favorite actors.
AL: He’s incredible.
Capone: You have been here before with "Heroes." What do you get out of coming to this? Does that really feel great?
AL: This is my favorite thing to do. Absolutely. This is my fifth time here, and it’s something that I look forward too every time I come.
Capone: Has it always been with "Heroes" or have you been here with anything else?
AL: "Heroes" and RESIDENT EVIL. It’s just something I look forward to. I feel like a lot of the people here live behind their computers and blogs, and when they come here, they get to come out, and they are like minded people that are inspired by the same kind of movies and it’s just a Mecca for kind of crazy geniuses whose brainwaves just think in a different way. And I just love that there’s a place where people can come and voice their opinion and their passions and their thoughts on things, but they are around the same people that are like that too. I just love coming down here and, yeah, I’m excited to go down on to the floor. I’m going down this afternoon.
Capone: That’s cool. That will be fun. You won’t get mobbed or anything.
AL: Someone just came up to me and said, “There’s comic books for pregnant superheroes.”
Capone: But you already knew that from watching JUNO, right? They showcase Most Fruitful Yuki.
AL: That's right!
Capone: Anyway, well thank you so much. It was great to meet you and congratulations again.
AL: Thank you. Thank you so much.
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