The first thought that comes to mind for most folks about the big budget summer action film “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” opening August 7, probably isn’t of tough female characters tearing apart the streets of Paris wearing Accelerator Suits.
When Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols sat down with Access Hollywood to talk up the film and their respective roles as The Baroness and Scarlett, they made certain to discuss the intense boot camp training involved with kicking ass on the big screen.
“We did weapons training,” said Rachel Nichols, who plays the red haired and aptly code named G.I. Joe operative Scarlett in the film.
“They sent Marlon [Wayons], [Channing Tatum], Sienna, and myself up to northern LA. We did fight training for days. We shot live rounds up there. Big guns. It was fun to get acquainted with that,” she recalled.
“I liked my automatic shotguns,” added Sienna Miller, who plays the villainous Baroness and admired her on-screen weapon and ammunition of choice.
“My 14 rounds a second. Those are fun,” she laughed.
Rachel had happy news to report for fans — that her Scarlett stays true to the character’s cartoon and comic book roots by wielding a hi-tech crossbow.
“I did love my crossbow because the entrance, where she just lands, she whips out the crossbow and it’s fantastic,” Rachel said.
As far as big screen fight scenes are concerned, not only do Sienna and Rachel tangle with their foes on the opposite sides of good and evil, they also have an elaborate hand-to-hand scuffle with each other on a catwalk.
“That was one of the highlights of doing this film for me. So fun, a lot of bruises,” Sienna recalled of their big fight scene. “But that’s what you expect. I mean we did six weeks of fight training and mixed martial arts for two hours everyday together. We loved it.”
“We were really happy with it when we saw it because we trained, and most of what you see in the film is actually us, which was good,” Rachel added. “We definitely had stunt doubles, there were clearly things that I certainly couldn’t have done. But we went all out on a whole.”
“On the whole it was pretty much us. So that’s good,” Sienna added about their performance in the final version of the scene.
Not only did Sienna and Rachel have to train hard ahead of time for their big action scenes, they also had to do them in elaborate form-fitting costumes.
“Gorgeous looking. Not the most comfortable things to put on because they’re very tight,” Sienna said of her black leather outfit, which left barely any room for breathing.
“But then you watch the film and they look so fantastic, and you forget all the bad parts and just remember the good,” Rachel added.
Adding to the complexity of the on-set stunts Sienna had to perform, she chimed in laughingly, “I was always in very high heel shoes.”
Although Sienna wore a jet-black wig to become The Baroness, Rachel’s transition to become the red haired Scarlett only involved a tint tweak from its original color.
“It was extraterrestrial red for ‘Star Trek,’ Rachel told Access. “Neon red.”
Rachel had a brief part in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” playing the green-skinned, red-haired Starfleet cadet from Orion who has a brief romantic encounter with Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk. She had previously worked with Abrams on “Alias” as Agent Rachel.
“I had dyed my hair red for doing ‘Star Trek’ and then sort of kept the red and tweaked it a little bit for “G.I. Joe,” she noted. “I don’t think it would have looked very presentable as Scarlett, so we had to tone it down.”
When the women had a chance to simply breathe and take a look around at the elaborate world built for a film like “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” the co-stars couldn’t help but be in awe.
“I think just seeing the sets and the scale of the whole thing is exciting. Daily, you’re in a new environment. It was extraordinary,” said Sienna, who found herself everywhere from the streets of Paris to sets in LA doubling as the Arctic Circle.
“A film of this magnitude — when you walk on to a set and everything works. Every button actually light up a light and everything corresponds. It really exciting,” Rachel concluded.
“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is in theaters now.