There’s no denying that Charlize Theron is a badass – especially if you’ve seen Atomic Blonde. As MI6’s most lethal assassin, Lorraine Broughton, Theron takes on a covert mission in Cold War Berlin with spycraft, sensuality, and savagery – all set to a killer 80s soundtrack. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day as that kickass, trench coat-clad character?
Well, I actually got to do just that. On a sunny weekend morning in Los Angeles, I headed across town to the very gym where Charlize trained for Atomic Blonde. The mission? Learn some of the kickass moves from the film from an amazing stunt team including Blonde‘s own Stunt Coordinator Sam Hargrave. There may not have been a trench coat involved – I opted for yoga pants and a hoodie – but I did get to wear Lorraine’s iconic platinum blonde hair and sunglasses.
But before I was ready to channel my inner Charlize, I got to sit down with Director David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2) and Stunt Coordinator Sam Hargrave (Captain America: Civil War, The Hunger Games) to talk about how Theron trained for the film, what went into developing Lorraine’s unique fighting style, and what makes Atomic Blonde so awesome.
Watch the full interview below:
A few of my favorite nuggets of wisdom:
- Charlize trained like a stunt performer for this movie, working 2-3 hours per day in the very gym where we were sitting. “We’re trying to push the genre into seeing actors perform their own action,” Hargrave said. Theron’s dedication and ability to remember choreography enabled some of the longer takes that contribute to Blonde‘s signature fighting style.
- Those who have seen the film know that its centerpiece is a very ambitious and impressive fight sequence in a staircase, which involves some very long takes. Hargrave spoke about how he initially thought it was “a terrible idea” when Leitch brought it up, since it’s so technically challenging and difficult for the actors. But when David explained that he wanted the audience to experience the fight from the point of view of one of the characters, Sam came around and was excited by the challenge.
- David and Sam developed Lorraine’s style of “found objects” fighting out of a need for her to realistically face off against much larger assailants. This led to her fighting with some crazy household utensils as weapons, from a hotplate to a corkscrew. They channeled the inspiration of greats like Jackie Chan while putting their own spin on it, leading to some very cool results.
Once I knew more about how Blonde‘s stunts came together, it was time for me to learn a few moves myself. My group worked with an incredible group of stuntmen – including Daniel Bernhardt (who was in the film!), Cale Schultz, Stephen Dunlevy, Bruce Concepcion, and Remi Bakkar. They were all amazing to work with, and between them they have been a part of pretty much every action movie you can imagine.
We worked in stations, learning the choreography bit by bit. First, we handled a prop gun – bright green, but shaped like the real thing – and learned how to hold it and make it look like we were firing at an assailant.
Then, it was time for hand-to-hand combat. We fought off an attacker with kicks and punches – making it look like we were flipping the guy coming at us, which was very satisfying – before getting flipped onto a mat ourselves. This was the most physical part of the sequence, and it felt very badass.
Lastly, we picked up a prop suitcase (made of some kind of foam), swinging it at the attacker and knocking them back before smashing a bottle on the back of their head. In practice, we used a boxing glove – but when it was time to roll, we got to use a breakaway glass bottle. We were told that the bottles would shatter if we handled them too roughly, and I was maybe a little too gentle with mine at first – which you’ll see in the video – but watching it shatter was so cool.
After a few rounds of practice and one on-camera rehearsal, it was go time. Check it out:
It was such a rush to jump into the action like this, and I left ready to sign up for stunt training classes and learn some more moves. Who needs to go to the gym when you can be flipping people, handling prop weapons, and working on your spy chic look? I’ll take Atomic Blonde fight sequences over yoga any day.
The stunts aren’t the only cool thing about the movie – though they alone definitely make it worth a watch. The story is captivating – full of intrigue, double-crossing, and James McAvoy (sorry not sorry) – and keeps you guessing all the way through to the end. Charlize plays a unique and enigmatic action hero and will absolutely wow you with her moves. The Cold War Berlin setting is interesting, and the soundtrack is killer. What’s not to love?
Atomic Blonde is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra Hd, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand from Universal Home Entertainment. There are also a ton of cool bonus features – from deleted and extended scenes to commentary and fight scene breakdowns from Director David Leitch, plus much more – so don’t miss out!
Will you be watching Atomic Blonde?
Featured Image via HelloGiggles