Brooklyn Decker’s transition from model to actress continues this week as she tackles the big budget blockbuster for the first time with Battleship.
The movie sees her team up with director Peter Berg as well as Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson and Rihanna. I caught up with her to talk about taking on such a huge movie project.
- It must be exciting to be in a big budget blockbuster movie like this?
Yes it is and it was very intimidating coming into something like this. This is only my second movie and part of me wishes that I had had years of experience coming into it.
But at the same time it was an incredible experience and Peter Berg one of my dear friends and favourite people that I have ever worked for.
We had a really good time and I think or I hope that that does come across when you watch the movie that everyone was having such a fun time making it.
- I was reading that Peter Berg was one of the major reasons that you wanted to make this movie so how did you find working with him?
He was incredible, even better than I expected. If you look as his past movies such as Hancock you have Charlize Theron while she is a superhero she plays a really cool character; there is a bit of a dark past, she is really witty and she is this strong and dynamic character.
You look at Jennifer Garner in The Kingdom and he is known for making women stronger and not your typical damsel in distress - while Sam is in distress a lot of the time but he makes this character strong and that was a driving force for me to want to work with him.
So to actually work with him was such a pleasure as he is surprising, he tries to thrown you for a loop, he tries to shock you and get weird reactions out of you and he gets really tight in on your face in that hand-held style that feel really intimate. So to be filmed like it was my aesthetic and it’s my taste and so it felt right with Pete.
- Sam is a physical therapist and she really does have a very specialist profession so what kind of preparation did you do for the role?
Pete is big on research, he likes improv but I think he loves it so much because I think he wants the research to be there before you go on set.
I was in Hawaii weeks before we started shooting and I went to Tripler Army Medical Centre in Hawaii and the Intrepid Centre in San Antonio and both of these hospitals specialises in troops coming back from overseas having lost limbs, that is Sam’s profession and her speciality.
There was a lot of visiting troops, who had just come back mostly from Germany; usually when they are in the Middle East they go to Germany before coming to the States, and some of them were eighteen years old, some of them had kids, some of them had lost an arm and two legs.
It was a very intense experience it was humbling but it was also a very pleasant experience because everyone wanted to share their story and I learnt so much about these guys. I think the biggest thing it made me, Pete and Greg Gadson want to do these guys justice.
There is this one scene when you go through the Intrepid Centre and you see these guys and they are active military guys and I just hope that they are proud when they watch it because that was our goal.
- It must have been an amazing experience getting to work with Greg Gadson, a veteran himself, so can you talk about working with him - he is new and you are relatively new as well?
Two newbies coming together, I’m telling you poor Pete. Greg Gadson is an active Colonel in the army to this day and he lost both of his legs in 2007 in Iraq.
We are still very close, in fact we were texting today; he is a bit of a photographer so he sent me pictures of Cherry Blossoms because he is coming to Japan with us.
I think if you go through something like that where you are both new and you are going through the emotions of being intimidated and scared and he is feeling vulnerable, that is not a familiar feeling as he is a strong colonel, so we had to get close and fast.
We had such a good time together as we had to depend on each other physically and emotionally in a scene and outside a scene and that bond is still there today. And that is one of the biggest things that I took from the movie my relationship with Greg.
- So early in your career what it is like working with Liam Neeson - that would seem like an intimidating experience?
Again I wish I had more years of experience coming into to this just so I could be a little bit more prepared. Ok so we both get to Hawaii and I am supposed to work with him in my first week.
He is supposed to my dad and I have him wrapped around my finger so I am supposed to have all this confidence with him but I was shaking in my boots. We were staying at the same hotel and he’s like ‘I can tell that you are nervous so lets go and get a drink’ and I’m like ‘ok ok’.
So we went and had a drink and he basically told me funny stories of his job and times that he had on set and times that he was nervous - he just wanted me to feel comfortable around him, and I think he did something similar with Taylor.
He didn’t shoot that long on the movie but the fact that he took time with these new actors that he doesn’t know and is not going to spend a lot of time with just says a lot about his character.
So I was really grateful of that and when we were on set together I was like ‘hey dad’ so it ended up being a really pleasant experience working with him - he is a great guy.
- You spend a lot of time of land, unlike everyone else, so was everyone jealous?
I was jealous I was like ‘I want to be on the barge shooting weapons’, I did get to shoot machine guns but it’s not in the movie I am afraid. I think I shot him in the head and there was something about a ratings issue.
It was funny because the land component is a big part of the movie that you don’t get to see in the trailers because it’s called Battleship and it takes place on the ocean.
The water special effects are some of the coolest parts of the movie, movie buffs know that water special effects are some of the hardest to achieve. But the land components are really fun to and it really does tell the back-story, it’s a little bit more serene than what’s going on with the crazy action on the ship.
I think it just adds a nice balance so it’s not just in your face action action guns guns, there is all of that don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to have a little of balance and humour there, I hope that the land component provides that in the film.
- How was your relationship with Rihanna on set?
We didn’t get to work a lot together. We had a few days together as she was on set a couple of weeks. But she is cool; she’s funny and super confident.
I can’t speak for her but I think being a musician and being confident on stage it helps so much with being comfortable on film, when you watch her on the big screen this doesn’t look like this girl’s first movie.
We were both the newbie’s, I was one movie in this was her first, it was kind of fun seeing another girl go through the same thing.
- What kind of projects are you looking to do now?
Something really small. I love what I have done, if I could work with Pete on every movie I would, but every movie that I have done has been big, whether it be a big blockbuster comedy or a big action movie or a big ensemble cast like on What to Expect When You Are Expecting.
I am not complaining by any means because that is great but I am looking to do something smaller and I want to really work on developing a character as it is something that I can really invest a lot of time into.
I am still learning, I know I am three movies in but I still feel like I am a new actor, I feel like something small would be a really good way to learn and get better.
- Are there any particular directors that you are keen to work with?
I love Jason Reitman, I love David Fincher, but he doesn’t do small movies, and Oliver Stone, who also doesn’t do small movies, and Peter Berg obviously.
But I think a Jason Reitman type movie would be very cool as it is quirky and kind of off beat, they are typically smaller, they are fast paced; Thank You for Smoking is one that I love. But we will see.
- You say that you are only three movies in so how have you found the transition into the movie world?
First of all I am luckiest person in the world so I feel very guilty a lot of the time because it’s like ‘this is not fair at all’ because I you just feel like you should pay your dues, but that is why I study really hard to try to get better.
I think if you had ask most people they would say ‘yes she is new but she is willing to work her butt off and she is very professional and she comes well prepared’ and that is what I have tried to do.
So it has been an interesting transition but I love the work and I think the people that I work with recognise than and appreciate that.
- Was it important that Peter didn’t just use you as eye candy and shot you in a rough and ready kind of way?
Yeah it was, and I think it was important to Pete too, there are definitely scenes like at the end where she is wearing the white dress with the flowing blonde hair, she is the hero’s gal so has to look good in some scenes.
It was really important to us and Pete wanted me and Rihanna to look… he wanted to rough us up a bit and look dirty, Rihanna has that bloody lip and he wanted us to look injured.
He definitely wanted us to be a-typical to what we were usually, people see us in a certain light and I think to shine a new light on us is more interesting.
- Apart from all the blood and guts and mud Hawaii must be a great place to shoot - you do seem quite attached to it?
I spent seven months there in 2010, every movie that I do has to be Hawaii it is in my contract (laughs). I have a really special place in my heart from Hawaii now as it was where I shot my first movie and you are always attached to the first thing that you do.
And then Battleship, which is so important to me, was shot there. Hawaii has its own energy and before we start shooting a Hawaiian native comes along and blesses the set and we were all singing along, it is really fun to be part of that culture for a while.
- Were you filming in Hawaii at the time when you heard about the Battleship role?
I was I was filming. I was auditioning from Hawaii and sending in tapes to Pete for this role. I wrapped in June and flew to LA to audition for this and then it was in July when he actually offered me the role.
- What scenes did you audition?
Everything was between Sam and Hopper; actually I wasn’t even allowed to see the whole script because it was so secretive. I had auditioned for casting directors, producers and on tape and finally when I met Pete he was like ’did you know that there are aliens in the movie?’
I had no idea and I was like ‘what there are aliens in this movie? I had not idea’. And he was like ‘here they are’ and he pulled out a little ten inch model.
And he was like ‘this is attacking you and killing your boyfriend and I want snot coming from your nose’ and I was like ‘what? I thought this was a love story’. And so for that audition he told me to get that part I had to make snot come from my nose.
- Did you?
Oh yeah I had snot bubbles forming. I was like (sniffing) I was trying really hard to get them out and they did. Oh snot bubbles. I think he wanted to see if he could beat me up a little bit, and you have to be able to take that when you are making a movie like this. He offered me the part a few days later.
Battleship is out 11th April
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw