By Matt Fowler
Has your life been missing, shall we say, a bit of "Stratusfaction?" Well, wallow in frustration no longer because former 7-time WWE Woman's Champion and Diva icon Trish Stratus is starring in her first headlining film role as the hard-hitting, bone-cracking Jules Taylor in Bounty Hunters, which hits DVD shelves on Tuesday, February 28th.
For even more info make sure to head over to TrishStratus.com/BountyHunters
I had a chance to speak with Trish about her new action movie (where she works in a strip club by day night and as a badass bounty hunter by night), what it was like to do her own stunts and incorporate signature "Trish" moves into the fights, a possible movie project with Amy Dumas (aka Lita), and her thoughts on the current WWE Divas division.
IGN: Can you start off by giving us a little back-story about how you came to be in this film?
Well, the writer/director of the film wrote the script, which has a strong female lead in it, with me in mind. He told me that he never imagined that he'd actually get me to play the role but that he just used me as the inspiration for the role of Jules Taylor. And then it it became one of those things where someone knew someone else and it was the former president of WWE Canada who said, "Oh yeah, I can get that to her." And so it landed on my desk and I read it and loved it. I thought it totally screamed "Trish Stratus," so he had done a good job of imagining me for the role. I was reading all of these amazing fight scenes in the script! I met with the director and he basically asked me if I'd be willing to do my own stunts and I was like, "Hello? Yes." So it was the combination of reading the script, relating to the character and the fact that I could do my own fight scenes that made it the perfect project for me as far as my first foray into film.
IGN: You've been performing for years, in front of tens of thousand of people. So what was your experience like working on this film?
Of course it's a very different process all together so I had to adapt to that, which is fine. It's certainly missing the instant gratification from when we wrestle live. I'm used to doing a move and then seeing the reaction to it and obviously on set nobody reacts. [laughs] You just do your thing. So I had to get used to that for sure. And the process is a bit different too. You have to get the script down and working with lines was a little bit different. So it was taking what I knew, which is the wrestling side of things, and adapting it to filmmaking. When I was doing the fight scenes I tried to blend together what I already knew how to do into it. And yeah, it also takes longer. We filmed this back in 2010 and so it's exciting to do something and be pumped about it, but then it kind of goes away for a while and jumps around film festivals and then comes back. The first time, and last time actually, I saw this live was when we were accepted into a film festival called Actionfest. And that was just after WrestleMania last year. So last April 2011. And I got to see if for the first time on a big screen and it was just a crazy thing to see myself fight like that. I mean, I've done this kind of stuff for ten years. I've watched myself fight many times. But to see it on the big screen with sound effects is a whole other thing. It was totally awesome.
IGN: I noticed a few wrestling moves in the fights scenes, like some flips and some hurricanranas. Was that always the intent? To put some of your own moves in there?
Yeah. When the director asked me if I would do my own stunts, I said "Of course" because I wouldn't have it any other way. And at that point, I came on board in more of a producer role because I was very involved in putting the scenes together and collaborating with the fight coordinator. So before we even began rolling, we spent a couple months together - me and the girl who plays my nemesis in the film, Andrea James Lui - we got together a couple months before and I learned to do a fighting art called Krav Maga. And to me that was an important thing because just like when I worked a program in wrestling you need to have that trust factor and build up chemistry with the person you're working with. Because that definitely translates physically. The fight coordinator was very protective over everyone's fight and that's why the fight's translates so well. And my character uses Krav Maga and that's her style but we also knew at the end of the day that we had to throw a little Trish Stratus in there. I mean, we had to, right?
And the opening fight scene we did was almost a bit of an afterthought. And when I saw Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 and she did that tilt-a-whirl hurricanrana, everyone went nuts over it. They said, "Oh my god, I've never seen anything like that before." And I'm like "Hey, world. We've been doing that in wrestling for years." So when I designed the opening fight scene it was a chance for me to take the wrestling world and introduce it to the movie world. So that's why you get to see a lot of signature Trish Stratus stuff. And you know what, that's what we do best, right? So why not bring it? So that why there's a bit of a realism to the fights. I don't know, maybe I'm just biased, but I think the fights are pretty wicked. And the way Andrea and I approached it was as fighters. Like I know what it feels like to take a punch to the face. She knows what it feels like to take a punch to the face. And we both know how to deliver one. So instead of stunt work, we just did fighting.
IGN: Did you get a chance to talk to Steve Austin about movie-making when you guys were doing Tough Enough together?
Yeah, absolutely. I had just finished filming Bounty Hunters actually so it was a fresh project for me and I told him that I was really excited about it and he told me that it was a great little business to be in. He's happy to sit there and make a few films a year and he knows the audience that he's speaking to. So it was good to talk to him. Because you never know if you do your wrestling stuff in a movie whether or not it will be acceptable. Or if the mainstream crowd will like it. But at the end of the day, we know what our fans want and what they like and so I think for me to be a bit Trish Stratus-like in my first film role was a smart move. So he was very supportive and we actually talked about possibly collaborating on a project one of these days.
IGN: Well, that bleeds into my next question a bit which is, outside of the movies that the WWE makes themselves, have you thought about teaming up with someone like Austin or maybe another ex-Diva?
Absolutely. And you know it's funny because a lot of people think this is a WWE-made movie project. People just associate me with that. And it had just gotten picked up for distribution before we even talked to the WWE about it, so there could have been interest in that regard. But it's good to be doing something on the outside and still see that it's piquing their interest. Steve and I said we'd love to do something together and I think that could be really cool, because I think we saw that on Tough Enough we had the chemistry. Steve and I once had this moment -- and it's on my WWE DVD -- it's this behind the scenes thing where we're riffing and that's kind of us. We're both kind of quirky and we riff and it pretty much baffled everyone else on the set. So it would be really fun to have that translate to a movie. And another answer to your question is that Amy Dumas [Lita from the WWE] and I have been collaborating on a project as well. I don't know how familiar you are with the old "Luchadoras" movies but there's an old film called Doctor of Doom vs. The Wrestling Women and we're talking about doing a remake of that. And I think the fans would really get a kick out of it.
IGN: Do you keep up with the current WWE product? what are your thoughts in the current Diva's division?
Well, I know that Nattie has a "flatulence" gimmick going on right now and a lot of people have been asking me, "Can you believe it?" And I just say, "To be honest, it's not a bad thing." Because that seems to be what everyone's talking about right now and so, to me, any time you can get yourself on TV, it's good. Two minutes is better than zero minutes. So hopefully she can take this and turn it into something else. Or somehow it gets the fans to connect with her. She's an amazing talent. Everyone's so talented right now. I know most people say that the Woman's division is crap right now, and I hear it all the time. And I want to say that it's not crap. I mean the portrayal of the Woman's division perhaps isn't as great as it could be, but the women in it are top notch. With Nattie and Beth [Phoenix] especially. And think Eve is someone who's been overlooked. She's amazingly athletic in the ring and she's come a long way. And Kelly Kelly too has risen in the quality and caliber of her matches incredibly. So right now it's all about developing the character. So the fact that Eve is doing the cutting-edge controversial angle is a good thing because people are talking about it and getting a buzz going. Same with Nattie. And with Kharma coming back too, it can only mean wonderful things for the Woman's division. And hopefully it will gain some momentum. And the fans will be into it.
I found that when Jazz and I were given the opportunity to have -- I guess you'd say, "men's style matches" instead of "chick fights" -- that it took the fans, who were all into screaming "Puppies," some time to get used to it. So we just worked our butts off and agreed that we were going to do something a little better every week and give them something different so that they can get used to seeing this. And then after a while people started getting into it. And if the fans come around then WWE production will too. Because they'll always go with what the fans are into. And that's what I found with my storyline with Jericho too. The fans wanted that storyline to happen.