As you settle in for tonight’s Bellator fight between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez on Spike at 9 pm ET (you’re doing that, right?), ask yourself this: What led you to become a mixed martial arts fan? We bet a whole lot of you are into it because the sport’s biggest stars have made their way into other realms of pop culture. Like professional wrestlers before them, fighters like Chuck Liddell, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Gina Carano, Randy Couture and Bas Rutten have been trying their hand (and feet) at acting.
Oh, girl fights… The phrase itself can conjure images of scantily clad models slapping at each other for sexually exploitive purposes, which is unfair and misleading. For instance, in Fast and Furious 6, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez get to fight each other with insane ferocity that rivals any of the fight scenes that co-stars The Rock and Vin Diesel find themselves in. Pam Grier made her career in the 70s showing up in movies to beat people up. And let’s not forget the Kill Bill films, which are pretty much a collection of brutal battle scenes between women.
Okay, so Daniel Craig picked Rihanna over Beyonce to portray a future Bond girl in an interview because Riri is “dirtier.” First of all, duh. Second of all, Bey has probably already learned her lesson from acting across from Mr. Mike Myers in Goldmember. While we draw up a pitch for our RiRi-centric Skyfall sequel (Ugh, why did Denise Richards have to take the Bond girl name Dr. Christmas Jones? Ruin our plans, why don’t you?), peep our 5 fantasy picks for our Bond girls. (Other than Rihanna, of course.) (Duuuuuh.)
With The Hunger Games raking in $214 million over its opening weekend and the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman topping last week’s Twitter trends, one thing seems sure: female action stars are having the best year ever, and it’s only March. And with Rooney Mara‘s Oscar nod for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, teaser trailers for Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Kristen Stewart as vampire Bella!) and The Host giving us chills and Lily Collins confirming her role in The Mortal Instruments, the ladies leading up 2012/13’s biggest action flicks are in good company.
We took a look at the women who are establishing themselves as the action heroines of the future, as well as some actresses from whom we want to see more onscreen butt-kicking. Did we miss anyone on our list? Check out our gallery and then let us know!
Steven Soderbergh’s having kind of a crap week, what with disappointing numbers for his latest action flick, Haywire, and the news that Annapurna Pictures backed out of one of his next projects, Side Effects. But we feel more sorry for Blake Lively, as some industry sources are speculating that backers aren’t so sure she can handle the role of a young woman caught in a love triangle with her doctor (Jude Law) and her paroled husband (Channing Tatum). It sounds like a heavy step up from Gossip Girl and Green Lantern, but it wouldn’t be the first time Soderbergh has managed to make a movie star into a serious actress. (One of those actresses, Catherine Zeta-Jones, has signed on for another role in Side Effects, giving ol’ Steven a vote of confidence.) Then again, he’s also had a few misses in that category too. Let’s take a look at what the critics have said about five of his leading ladies’ performances:
1. Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight: “At the center of the film is the repartee between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, and these two have the kind of unforced fun in their scenes together that reminds you of Bogart and Bacall. There’s a seduction scene in which the dialogue is intercut with the very gradual progress of the physical action, and it’s the dialogue that we want to linger on.” — Roger Ebert
“Lopez, for all her Latina-siren voluptuousness, has always projected a contained coolness, and this is the first movie in which it fully works for her. As Sisco is lured into a romance with Foley, you can see her resolve melt in spite of itself.” — Entertainment Weekly
To be honest, when we put Ewan McGregor up against Michael Fassbender for this week’s Hotness poll, we worried that Ewan might get crushed. Not that we dispute the Scottish actor’s hotness in the least, mind you. But Fassbender has all that buzz. And oh, yeah, all that full-frontal nudity, which inspired George Clooney to joke at the Golden Globes that he can play golf with his hands behind his back. Aaaanyway, Ewan certainly has the advantage of years of gathering devoted fans. Particularly a couple of them who live in the Ukraine and have apparently been hitting refresh nonstop for days. Well, give you clicking fingers a break, my friends, and watch both actors brutalized by Gina Carano in Haywire this weekend. Right after you celebrate your victory by looking at Ewan’s smiling face. Congrats!
Related: Haywire Star Gina Carano’s 20 Hottest And Most Badass Looks
Some of us are just getting to know Gina Carano, as she makes her movie debut in Steven Soderberg’s Haywire, in theaters today. In the movie, she plays Mallory Kane, a private security contractor whose boss/lover turns on her. And naturally, to survive and exact revenge, she winds up kicking the ass of some rather delicious foes: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Channing Tatum. She also happens to have done all of her own stunts. (At post-screening Q&A for the movie we attended back in December, she said she loves bruises and had to talk the stunt guys into hitting her for real.) Because before becoming an actress, she was a professional badass.
The Muay Thai kickboxer was one of the hottest MMA fighters in the biz before going on hiatus in 2009. (Here’s a little highlights video put together by a fan.) She was also #16 on the Maxim Hot 100 in 2009 and appeared as Crush on American Gladiators.
After seeing her defy the laws of physics in Haywire, we’re very eager for her to get back in the ring. Then again, it would be a loss to moviegoers if she didn’t stay in the acting game — despite the admission by Soderberg that he altered her voice for the flick; she doesn’t really talk all that much in the movie anyway. But we love seeing a female action hero with real muscle and fire in her eyes. Check out our 20 favorite pics of the lovely and deadly Gina below.
[Photos: Relativity Media]
Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor: Both incredibly sexy men from across the pond, both very talented, both can wear the hell out of a scarf, both get their asses absolutely BEAT DOWN by Gina Carano in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, in theaters this Friday. Sorry, that was a tiny bit of a spoiler, except you know they wouldn’t cast an MMA fighter in a movie and have her sit in the drawing room sipping tea. More on Gina later this week. In the meantime, we would like to force you to choose between Fassbender — the 34-year-old Irish German who’s starred in just about every movie of 2011, from Jane Eyre to X-Men: First Class to Shame, where he got very naked — and McGregor, the 40-year-old Scot who weirdly won our hearts back when he played a heroine addict in Trainspotting and hasn’t lost them since. (We’re trying very hard to forget about his less-than-hot turn in those Star Wars prequels.) Who’s it gonna be, my friends? Peruse the gallery below and then vote. Poll closes at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.
[Photos: Relativity Media]