First of all, I would like to thank all of my readers, Dan's Movie Report has reached the 500,000 view plateau! What better way to celebrate it with a cool interview from Actress/Stuntwoman Tara Macken! Tara is a dynamic performer, full of energy, putting forth maximum effort into whatever she sets out to achieve. Although she has gained international fame from “The Hunger Games”, rarely have I witnessed a detailed interview for her. Time to blind side my readers with the smiling, peace loving, calm aggression that is Tara. Keep reading, because Tara opens up some textual ass kicking and chats about “Raze”, "G. I. Joe", and several other projects!
Opening with a two part question, with your dance background stunt-work was a natural progression? What do you consider was your first big break in film?
TARA: Absolutely! I've been a dancer for many years and also a gymnast, which is fantastic for movement and for fight choreography. Working on film and television, each fight scene is like a dance with your fight partner, with beats, rhythm and timing. Knowing how to move with people is crucial to making the action look and feel believable. Plus, being a dancer, I have been exposed to so many different styles of movement (ballet, modern, hip hop), that learning martial arts was easy for me. I already had a strong core and flexibility for martial arts due to my dance background.
Part 2: I guess my big break was my reoccurring role on "Sons Of Anarchy", season 3, where I played "Luisa". I came in to the audition to read for one episode, and they were so impressed and happy with my character that they wrote me into seven more episodes!
"S.O.A." is a gritty, dangerous show, right up your alley, in addition I noticed you have worked on a wide variety of productions budget wise and M.P.A.A. ratings wise ha, do you enjoy the indie stuff, like Girl From The Naked Eye as much as Hunger games, or a whole different scenario?
Tara: I love it all! I know that might sound like a safe answer, but being a part of the process is always rewarding. Working on smaller budget features I get to work on projects that have taken more risks in terms of the story (RAZE). Whereas on huge blockbusters,I get to be apart of movie history (The Hunger Games, Iron Man). I am blessed to have the opportunity to work on both spectrum.
Above Pic Credit: Danny Shamon (C) 2012
With regards to stunts, chat about your particular training regimen? If you are going to be doing a film with sword-work vs falling and jumping do you vary your routine.
TARA: I have a typical regiment that I do to keep my skill set in check, which mostly comprises of martial arts, boxing, park our, trampoline work and general activities to keep my cardio up (running, dance, yoga). And yes, if I know I have a movie or an episode coming up that needs a specific skill set I train for that particular job. For example, I worked on G.I Joe 2, which for me was heavy into double sword work, so to prep for that movie I worked with weapons day in and day out and did less boxing.
I know you respect Aoni Ma, who are some of the other female martial artists you look up too? How about other stuntwomen you enjoy? I know you like Mo Ganderton, she is very cool and talented.
TARA: Monique Ganderton and Aoni Ma are my girls!! I love them dearly, and their fierceness definitely inspires me and keeps me going. It's always great when I get to work with my friends, I got to work with Mo on "Iron Man 3" and on "The Hunted". Some other women, who I know you know, are Ming Qiu, Zoë Bell, Janene Carlton, Shauna Duggins, Luci Romberg and the Moneymaker sisters. There are so many talented girls out there that I know I'm blanking out on right now, I'm just stoked that I am in the same industry as them!
You worked on GI Joe Retaliation as a double for Elodie Yung, maybe share a cool story from the set of that film. Ming Qiu told me was a very enjoyable to work on.
TARA: What a fantastic, action filled movie to work on! Both Elodie and Ming are so good and so lovely, it was great to work with them. We all trained so hard and ate doughnuts lol!
Who would have known doughnuts are the key to action girls, haha. Your hectic filming schedule had you going right from a Disney production into a hyper-violent horror action film Raze, how did you get the part? Must be great fun to work with Z Bell. Share a crazy Raze set story that hasn't been told yet.
TARA: Yeah, when I take a step back at my schedule I just laugh at the diversity of violence and types of shows I'm on. From working on "Kick'n it", for Disney XD, where you are not allowed to hit anyone in the face, to working on RAZE, where its all really intense violence, I can't tell you what happens to me on that show! You just have to watch it and find out!! Zoë, is AWESOME. I've known of Zoë Bell before even getting into stunts, from her Kill Bill days. So working for her was great and inspiring. The world needs more tough, real female action stars out there. Zoë for me, really bridged the gap between stunts and acting, and that is what me and Mo Mo (Monique Ganderton)are doing!
I agree, Raze is a very exciting project for me as a writer, finally female fighting is not comical, but brutal. Why do you think filmmakers feel that when women fight in a movie it tends not to be serious?
TARA: I don't know if filmmakers think that women fighting is less serious, I think that people in general, are use to seeing males perform action or strong characters. From comic book heroes, to watching pro fighters on TV, barely ever do you see that many females. Not trying to be sexist or a feminist or anything, but maybe it's a cultural perspective of action, males are the heroes and females are the damsels in distress. The great thing about RAZE, I can't tell too much obviously, but being apart of it, its no longer about chicks fighting each-other, its about survival. About humanity, RAZE could have been done with a whole male cast, it does not make a difference, so its cool that RAZE does not pretend to be something that its not.
On Raze your character is Dee and you were last seen leaving Lucky's Bar. Any more light you can shed or your role in Raze.
TARA: Nope, lol, you will have to watch to find out!
Will you be kicking some ass? A fight with Rachel or Z Bell?
TARA: No spoilers, Danny!
Ok, Ok, had to ask! If you had to fight for real Raze style, what would be your technique, would it change if the person is larger than you?
TARA: Good question. I guess when fighting for survival, it's no longer about particular styles or techniques, all that gets thrown out the door. It is just about taking the other person out, being the craziest one in the room.
Feel free to demonstrate your craziest one in the room technique on me. I have to give the Raze producers something to look forward to, haha!
TARA: I don't know about that Danny! I might get thrown into jail!
Ok haha, I do outweigh you by about 100 pounds, however I am slow and about 20 years older, haha, but seriously Tara, did you ever have to use your martial arts skills or athleticism in a real fight?
TARA: Remember that saying "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility", yes I'm quoting Stan Lee in Spiderman. I always think about this whenever I'm confronted with situations. I guess its the martial arts philosophy, that just diffusing a fight through your words, you've already won. That being said, I have thankfully never gotten into a real fight out of anger. I know I can do A LOT of damage to another person, and I don't want to have to go there to end an argument.
Now I know I want you on my side if things go South. Shifting gears slightly, do you have a particular film style preference to work on, action, horror etc?
TARA: Love me some action movie!!!! That's pretty obvious :)
Yeah, I figured, but I had to ask, for diversity sake. How about the soft side of Tara, what are some hobbies you like to do to relax?
TARA: When I'm not fighting, stunting or acting, I enjoy being creative. I love photography, exploring, traveling to new cities and drinking a glass of sangria!
Continuing the chat about acting, Dream role, what character would you like to play in a movie?
TARA: Hmmm... that's a hard one, something action packed, yet with a great sense of character development. Maybe if black swan had an assault rifle and a samurai sword! Lol.
I can just see Mila Kunis, with those weapons, haha! How about actors, actresses, and directors you haven't worked with and would like to?
TARA: Baz Luhrman, Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino, Jackie Chan, man... the list goes on!!
Chatting about behind the scenes work, ever would like to write, produce, or direct a film or TV project?
TARA: YES! I don't know if I'm there yet, but that's down the road. I recently got into photography so I can learn about the camera, once I've gotten that mastered, I will go on to scenes and film cameras! I still have a lot to do before I get to this stage in my life yet.
I respect your fastidious learning process, and look forward seeing you developing into that stage. What are some of your long term goals, do you want to transition from stunt work to acting or do a bit of both?
TARA: I am an actress and a stuntwoman, I will do both for as long as I can do them! Eventually I just want to do projects where I get to do my own stunts, which so far this year, has been happening!
Speaking of stunts, any exciting news, new projects in the works Chat about Iron Man 3 etc....
Tara: I have allot of projects coming up! I'm so stoked about. I worked on "VIDEO GAME HIGH SCHOOL", a few months ago playing the character "Ronin", you would love it! Lots of video game, action, its insane! I am also about to start working on an indie movie "Ninja Apocalypse", playing the character "Mar". I am in talks for "The Devils Ink", with Zoe Bell, and I just did an episode on NTSF:SD:SUV for adult swim with Ming Qiu. This is all in addition to some fun stuff coming out like, Raze, Iron Man 3, After Earth, Hunger Games 2, and G.I Joe just came out! I think its going to be a good year. Just have to keep up the good fight!
Thanks Tara, even though the interview took some time to complete, like fine wine, it is worth the wait to uncork it! Any final thoughts?
Tara: Danny, thank you sooooo much for being such a fan and for supporting ACTION! You rock and there is more awesome stuff to come.
Watch for much more from Tara and the cast from Raze Later in 2013!
For now, check out her official web, and other various sites.
Official Site: www.taramacken.com
You Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/taramacken