Jaimie Alexander first become known to genre fans as Jessi XX, the counterpart to the title character on Kyle XY. She made an even bigger impression as Sif, the Asgardian warrior fighting alongside Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. 2013 has proven to be a banner year for her, first appearing alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in this week’s The Last Stand, then reprising the role of Sif for November’s Thor: The Dark World. A lifelong athlete and avowed comic book fan, she sat down at the Last Stand press junket to speak to Mania in an exclusive interview.
Question: You’re making a name for yourself with action pictures, and this one has one of the biggest stars the genre has ever seen. What were your feelings on preparing for the role?
Jaimie Alexander: I love that aspect of films. I’m an action girl at heart. I was a little nervous because I got sick before the part. When I got better, I only had nine days to get ready for it. But I ate my protein and hit the gym. I tried and tried and tried to get strong enough. I think I was physically strong enough, I just wasn’t aesthetically where I wanted to be. But that doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers the magazines.
Anyhow, part of the training involved learning how to handle a weapon as an officer would. I trained with an LAPD officer on set every morning before I started working. I learned the protocol of what you do if you see suspicious activity. If you’re right-handed, your left hand goes on your stomach and your right hand goes on your gun, then you bring the gun to your left hand and raise it. It took a lot of work, especially not to look at my holster or my gun. But eventually I got it.
Q: What was the most challenging moment on set?
JA: There’s a scene I have with Arnold when I have to confess how scared I was during a shootout. His face is so tough and stern, but there’s also a sweetness about him. I took one look and just started crying. I wasn’t planning on doing that with the character, but there it was. Like talking to your dad. It was tougher than I anticipated, but I think it came out right onscreen.
Q: Did you guys explore those relationships as you were shooting? This movie takes place over the course of six or seven hours, but your characters all clearly have a past together…
JA: We had a little time to sit and chat about it before the shoot started. We went out to dinner a lot. On Sunday nights, our director would make Korean food, and that was a lot of fun. It gave us a chance to develop the backstories: what we were all like before this crisis and how we came to be at the place we were when the movie started. Arnold was the old pro and he definitely felt like a father figure on the shoot, so it wasn’t hard to establish that energy: that long-time mentor thing.
Q: What do you see action movies doing as far as women are concerned these days? Do you see more positive examples and positive role models in this genre?
JA: I think you’re going to see a lot more great roles for women in action movies, and I think that’s due to the superhero genre being so big right now. Male superheroes are a dime a dozen. Female superheroes not so much. There’s a lot of them in comic books, but not in films, and I think that will change in the very near future. There’s a huge open door for women there, to play these positive and strong – legitimately strong – characters that aren’t just about big boobs and overt sexuality.
Of course, having said that, they have to do justice to those roles. They tried to reboot Wonder Woman, which was a huge embarrassment if you ask me. Adrianne Palicki’s great, but you can’t take someone – no matter how talented – and put them in a trashy costume, then say they’re supposed to be a positive role model for women. I don’t think she got into it thinking that’s what they’re going to do, and I think she played her hand as well as she could, but that project was just not the way to go.
Q: Do you think actors can make a difference in that situation?
JA: Only if the material’s right. If the script’s there, then it’s definitely on us. Are you going to be the female character who breaks down in tears when the shit hits the fan, or are you going to keep your stature even in moments when you show some vulnerability? I’m hoping to be one of the leaders on that front; I’ve been very lucky to get a great part for that.
Q: Sif certainly isn’t a character to go weak at the knees…
JA: [Laughs.] No. Definitely not.
Q: Do you want to expand on that and do other roles? Would you want to do Wonder Woman if they found the right script?
JA: I’ve actually been approached a couple of times about it. I think right now, my loyalty is to Marvel. But yes, I’d love to play more characters like Sif: keep the young girls of the world safe from slutty costumes and poorly written scripts!
Q: Can you give us any tidbits on the next Thor movie?
JA: Nothing too juicy. Even Sif must respect the power of the NDA. [Laughter.] I can say that we explore the relationship between Thor and Sif a little more in this film. And you get to see a lot more of the people of Asgard, what their daily lives are like. We get to explore a couple of other worlds as well. I think the fans are really going to like it.