By Todd Brown
With Trish Stratus starring action picture Bounty Hunters freshly on store shelves we had the chance to speak recently with the former wrestler turned TV personality, yoga maven and, now, movie star about the film.
Twitch: I wanted to start by asking you a little bit about the transition away from WWE and the positives and negatives of that brand. It's a really, really strong brand that has a lot of connotations to it. Some people have been able to progress after leaving really well and use it as a major launching point while others haven't.
Trish Stratus: I haven't had any negatives whatsoever. I retired in 2006 and I was able to parlay my successes in the WWE into other entities here, everything from other TV shows to building my own Stratusphere brand and that's mostly because of the name I had built and outreach that WWE creates for their people. Everything from my relationships with the charities that I worked with WWE. Every relationship that I built while in the WWE has helped me as I've come out of it.
And it's not just the relationships that I built but also the skill sets I acquired by being part of the WWE. There are these things that I did every day. The marketing that the WWE does, that Vince does, that shaped how I approach things - the all or nothing approach. And also when I went into production, I've been able to approach things as a performer, certainly, but also now I've produced my own television show and my own fitness DVDs and those skills come from WWE. When we did a two hour show in WWE I would be given ten to twenty minutes. That's yours, that's your baby. It's up to you to produce the segment and that's how I learned to tell a story - beginning, middle and end - and that's something that I walked away with for sure.
Twitch: When did you start thinking about doing films? Is that something you considered while you were still wrestling or is that something that came later?
Stratus: When I was wrestling I never actually pursued it. It's funny because that's the number one question that I was asked when I retired because of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, they went into films afterwards, so I was always asked "Do you want to go into films now?" And I was never actively pursuing an acting career.
Turns out I did a couple television shows right away but more personality type roles, no necessarily acting. But I always said that if the right role came along - something interesting and appealing to me, or challenging, with the right timing with what else I'm doing at the moment. And that's what happened with Bounty Hunters. It was the right time. I had just launched my brand Stratusphere, I had my yoga studio and had developed a line that is in stores now so it was just the right time and the role was perfect. It was a great role for me and a lot of fun to do. And it was filmed here in Toronto so I didn't have to leave town. Timing is everything.
Twitch: I see that you're listed as a producer on the film. Were you hands on in the development of it or was that more that as you came in you wanted to tailor things a bit more to yourself and make sure it fit what you were doing?
Stratus: It was mostly because of the fight scenes. When Patrick, the director, approached me with the role the fight scenes stood out as a good opportunity to showcase a bit of the wrestling world to the movie world. And it was important to me that if I was going to take this challenge of presenting to the movie world that "Hey, this is what we do as wrestlers and performers," I wanted to really preserve the integrity of the elements and dynamics that make up a fight scene. That was my main objective in coming on as a producer. That and being a control freak as well.
What was really awesome about being able to approach it the way I wanted to was how different it was. Initially when we were doing a fight scene we approached it from a traditional movie making standpoint, which was stunt people and working in the stunt world and, of course, me having been a fighter in the WWE world, I was like "Hmm, no contact?" That was foreign to me. And rather than adapting to that medium Andrea James Lui - she's my nemesis in the movie - was really awesome. She's a stunt person, which was good, but she's also a martial artist. And so she brought her fight background and I brought mine and we decided to approach it not as stunt people but as fighters. We really went all out. We brought a little extra realism to it, there's something different from a choreographed fight with a stunt team. I think those elements really brought something a little extra special.
Twitch: Well, obviously when you break out the lucha moves there's no faking that.
TS: Somebody asked me if I was using wires for that. Oh my god, no!
When I saw Scarlett Johansson use some of those moves in Iron Man 2 I was like, "That's so amazing!" Then I remembered: I do that every week! That was one of my main objectives in creating that scene, to say "This is what we do in the wrestling world."
The other guy in that scene is a wrestler as well so Patrick came to us to talk about how to shoot it and we just said, "No, we're good." And we basically showed up on set and did what we do as wrestlers. We said, "This is what I do, this is your skill set, this is my repertoire, what can we use in the environment?" And we pretty much put the scene together right on the spot and did it. That's one thing about performing live for three hundred days of the year, sometimes, is you just kind of do this. It's second nature. You learn to use your environment. And so we did it. And the movie people were like, "Oh my god, you just did that." Yep, that's what we do.
It was cool to showcase that. I think people under estimate the performance aspect of what wrestlers do. What we can do and what we do live all the time.
Twitch: When you were preparing were there other films you guys were looking at? There's a dramatic shortage of female action stars to compare yourself to.
Stratus: Yeah, there is. Or believable ones, anyway. Taking hold of the fight scenes and being able to put out something really awesome was my main focus, that's what I wanted to accomplish. But like you said there really aren't many strong female leads and I just thought this was a great chance. Much like in the WWE world, it's a pretty cool thing to be a female making it in a male dominated world. I think being a female character in a predominantly male genre, having the chance to do that and showcase a real butt kicking woman in a great light is exciting. I didn't really model my work on anything, I was just going after what hadn't been done yet.
Twitch: Do you think that the success of someone like Gina Carano in a movie like Haywire, does that open up new opportunities for someone like you?
Stratus: Yeah, I think so. It's funny because her movie came out, and mine's out now, and everyone's raving about the fight scenes and I think this is awesome because we're real fighters. We're approaching these scenes not as stunt women. We know what it feels like to take a punch to the face and we've delivered a kick to the head as well. I think that's probably what allows us to create this different feel to our fight scenes. I'm really thrilled with her success and I hope people enjoy this movie, too.