Interview: La Femme Gina

(I managed to bribe Matthew Polly into into hitting up the NY premiere of Gina Carano’s Haywire with the promise of a popcorn n soda budget. Being the intrepid writer that he is, he also snagged an interview with the Gina herself! Tapped Out is the tale of Matt Kerouacing his way through the MMA scene, and it’s on bookshelves now. Pick it up!)

It is traditional before a transcribed interview for the reporter to write a brief introduction of the subject. But no one reading this blog is unfamiliar with Gina Carano. I expect many of you go to sleep every night beneath a poster of her on your parent’s basement ceiling. I know I do. Not only has she put on fights of such technical skill that they shamed many of the men on the same card (Kimbo) but her girl-next-door looks and charm turned her into the “face of women’s MMA” and the first MMA star, with the exception perhaps of Chuck Liddell, to break out in the mainstream media world.

She is now the first MMA fighter to star as the lead actor in a major Hollywood movie, ” target=”_blank”>Haywire, which will be released January 20th. It is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who surrounded Gina with such an all-star cast— Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas— that actresses across Malibu will be turning in their yoga mats for 4-oz gloves.

The call-in interview was scheduled for ten minutes. After eleven, the movie publicist shut me down before I could get to the hard-hitting question I had prepared for my closing: Channing Tatum or Michael Fassbender, who is the better kisser? Now we will never know. But if you want to find out whether she plans to fight again, what she thinks of Cyborg’s positive steroid test, or if her voice was dubbed over, you can read the full, unedited transcript after the jump.

(And thanks to you Jackals who pitched in questions for the interview. As you will see I actually used a few of the less pervy ones.)


PUBLICIST: I’ve got Gina Carano for you.

ME: That’s great. Thank you very much.

PUBLICIST: Hold on one moment.

ME: Okay.

GINA: Hello.

ME: Gina, it’s Matthew Polly from Fightlinker.

GINA: Hi.

ME: How are you doing?

GINA: Good, how are you?

ME: Excellent. So how bad is it? [The call was an hour late.] How many interviews have they got you scheduled for?

GINA: Well, this is about my fifth day, I think. So… It’s been very therapeutic [laughs].

ME: I hear ya. I once had to do 20 interviews in a day and by the end I was making up answers.

GINA: [laughs] You’re like, “I don’t even know what I’m saying right now.”

ME: I appreciate you doing this. I’ll try to keep it short, so you can get a break before you have to do the next one.

GINA: Okay, I appreciate it. Thank you.

ME: First question, since I know I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll just dive into it. It’s been about two and a half years since you were last in the cage and all us MMA fans want to know: Are you coming back or have we lost you to Hollywood?

GINA: Oh God, I want to make sure you guys know you haven’t ever lost me. I’m more of a fan than I ever have been of the sport. I’m more proud to have been part of the sport than I ever have. But I’m not sure actually. I’m just trying to get through January 20th [the release date for Haywire]. I just want to get back to what MMA gave me. And what it gave me was probably one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Would I do another film? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. I’d do another film over and over and over, because I think I’d be stupid not to.

ME: That’s certainly true.

GINA: And I’ve been fighting for the last nine years, and I know that’s something you can’t do for a lifetime—as much as I loved it. But then again I haven’t been able to completely close that door yet, so we are definitely going to have to see.

ME: So it might be a little like Cung Le. You do some movies, then do a fight, then go back to movies?

GINA: I don’t know. I’m not saying no to that. I’m not saying that can’t happen.

ME: Other than the movie and all this press you’ve been doing for it, how have you been keeping busy the last two and a half years?

GINA: Ah, we filmed this movie and that took a good amount of time. I trained for it for about two months. We shot the movie for about two months. And then we came back and did additional scenes for about a year, here and there. They kept keeping calling me back just to have the story make sense and create the best product we could. And then I had a year to myself. I had this moment in my life I didn’t know if I was ever going to have again: to go travel and to go experience life; not to be pressured to fight again and not to be pressured to do anything else; just to walk around this planet and be human, you know.

ME: Yes.

GINA: I went to New York and spent some time there. I went to Chicago and spent some time there. I went to Thailand, San Diego, Palm Springs. I went all over the place. I spent most of the time by myself taking in different cultures. Just enjoying the moment I had to get to know myself actually. I took advantage of that. Then I came back and I started training for that fight [against Sarah D’Alelio] at Greg Jackson’s camp. Of course we all know that didn’t work out, but the training camp was incredible and it made me realize I still had it and I was still able to train for it. That was really encouraging, because I don’t know a lot of people who can take a year off and jump back into it. I guess for the last couple months I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family over the holidays. And now I’ve been pressed back into Haywire for promotions.

ME: I’m happy to hear you got to do some traveling. You probably won’t remember this, but we chatted a few times at Xtreme Couture and you said that traveling was something you always wanted to do.

GINA: Yeah, my grandmother always told me I should be a travel photographer or photojournalist, because I love it. I often feel more at home when I’m traveling than when I’m at home, you know.

ME: So the news of the week, and I don’t know if this is an uncomfortable question but…you traveled to the ESPY awards with Cris [“Cyborg”] Santos and you fought her in the cage, I guess people want to know if you were surprised she tested positive for PEDs.

GINA: Um, what are PEDs?

ME: Sorry, performance enhancing drugs.

GINA: Oh, okay, I heard that in another interview and I just guessed it meant steroids, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions, like, ‘Maybe she did get busted for something else.’
ME: Yeah I meant steroids. I was just trying to be polite, because there are so many different kinds.

GINA: Do you know what kind of steroids it was?

ME: I can’t recall. Nanolean or something? [It was stanozolol metabolites, an anabolic steroid. Nanolean is a marketing name for a weight loss system—kind of like what Cyborg claims she thought she was taking.] I remember when you were in the gym and it was announced that you were scheduled to fight Santos and everyone was asking, “What’s it like to fight someone who is built like that?” I guess what I’m trying to ask is: MMA fans were not so surprised [by the positive test] and I was wondering if you felt that way, if you were surprised. I mean you know her better than any of us do.

GINA: Yeah, well, when I was fighting her I would always steer clear of that question, because if she hadn’t been taking steroids I didn’t want to take her physicality away from her.
ME: Of course.

GINA: I definitely could have lived without hearing the news that she had tested positive. You know, it kind of hurts. For me that was one of my biggest moments. That was my biggest moment in mixed martial arts.

ME: You were the headliner.

GINA: It was huge. And of course people were saying that around me and I didn’t want to take anything away from her so I would steer clear of that question. But now that it’s positive years later, it really kind of hurts. But at the same time it could be some misguided direction. Someone around her was telling her that was a good idea. Obviously it isn’t something an athlete like her needs to do. She’s already a phenomenal athlete without it. I’m not going to sit here and rejoice in the hard time she’s going to have to fight back into the hearts of the fans to, you know, not be considered a cheater. I know she’s a great person and she’s going to get past this hard time and use it to make a better person out of herself. I know that because I’ve been around her, the little I have. It’s unfortunate that someone around her was telling her she needed it. That hurts my heart for her. But at the same time, there is this other part of me that’s like, “Dammit, I don’t want to hear that, because that was the biggest moment in my life.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it felt like a stab in the heart.

ME: Prior to this, did you ever think about a rematch? It is the one loss on your MMA record. Often fighters want to redeem themselves or avenge a loss. Had that crossed your mind before?

GINA: Yeah, absolutely. If this movie hadn’t come along when it did, I just would have gotten back into training and looking forward to the next fight. I had no idea that this kind of experience was going to happen. This is a life changing, incredible opportunity that Steven Soderbergh gave me. I couldn’t see that coming. And you can’t continue to be a part of this sport and not train to be the best. Having her beat me… that made her the best and so I definitely looked forward to a rematch.

ME: One of the things that people are talking about is that the 145lb division is a little shaky and there is a lot more competition at the 135lb division. If you did consider coming back, would you consider making the cut to 135 and fighting the Meisha Tates and the other top-notch women of this world?

GINA: The fascinating thing about that Cyborg fight is that I hit 143 without even stepping into the steam room. It was good, because I’m telling you I was in the best shape of my life. I was just mentally not as strong as I should have been. That could have been due to pressure and other things that were going on. But I would definitely love to try. Historically it has been a little bit hard for me to go down to 145, but with that Cyborg fight it proved a lot to me. It proved that it isn’t that hard when you do it correctly. Of course, I’d have a long ways to go and a lot of work to do. But I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t do it. It would just be a lot of work, you know.

ME: Totally. We’d just have to get you away from the Hollywood craft services table. I’ve been on movie sets, and it’s just this banquet of temptation.

GINA: [laughs] For sure.

ME: So I saw your movie Haywire last night. A bunch of the MMA media and also the New York Times etc were there, so we [the MMA media] were very much like the proud hometown in American Idol cheering you on to victory. One of the things I wanted to let you have a chance to address was this: I’ve talked to several times before and covered your career, so when I was listening to the movie your voice sounded a little different to me. I know this has been brought up in other media outlets but I didn’t know if they tweaked the sound or that’s just how it came out in the movie.

GINA: Yeah absolutely and I’m surprised that hasn’t come up sooner. Stephen Soderberg wanted Mallory Kane [the character she plays in the movie] to be a completely different entity than Gina Carano. So he definitely went in and I went in to AVR and he did some tweaking. We all knew that that was going to come up because people know me so well in the MMA world. But he is quite a genius in what he has created and it still was an honor to be a part of it. Even though it might not sound exactly like me, there are still parts of me that are in there. But he just wanted to make sure that that entity was completely different from myself.

ME: Gotcha. And I just wanted to be clear, because TMZ was hinting that you had been dubbed over by another actress and I just wanted to clear up that that wasn’t what happened.

GINA: Yeah, everyone was a little curious about that. And I don’t blame anyone for being curious about it. But if I was bald and they had given me the voice of Bill Clinton I still would have done the movie.

ME: [laughs] I can’t argue with that at all. But that leads me to the next question…

PUBLICIST: [breaking in] All right Matt, sorry that has to be the last question.

ME: Okay, sorry, she’s got to go. I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

PUBLICIST: Thank you.

GINA: All right, nice speaking to you. Bye.

ME: Definitely, bye.

(We’ll have Matt’s review of Haywire for you next week. Til then, here’s more Polly goodness.)

  • SkippyKid

    Great job Matt. Class act and an awesome interview.

    Was the publicist person rude or just like “sorry Matt – we have to go..”

  • Blackula Jonez

    Holy shit, thanks for coming through there Polly.

  • matthewpolly

    The publicity person was curt, which I understand. Actually she is not really a publicity person so much as she is a talent minder. Her job is to make sure the star doesn’t say anything undiplomatic that might turn into a controversy that might hurt the movie. She doesn’t work for Gina; she works for the studio.

    As soon as I asked about DubGate and Gina said, “If I was bald and they had given me the voice of Bill Clinton, I would have done the movie,” the minder jumped in and cut off the interview. It’s never happened to me before, but I don’t do celebrity interviews very often. It is why veteran reporters usually demand that the publicist not be present during the interview. Our job is to get the star to say something “news” worthy, i.e. controversial. The minder’s job is to get the star to tow the party line. And the star wants to be just interesting enough that reporters will want to interview them in the future, but not so interesting that they get a reputation for being a loose canon and can’t get hired again.

    I find that dance of conflicting interests very amusing, which is why I included the publicist in the full transcript. Normally, I’d edit that out.

  • CAP

    Good interview. Better than expected!

    Still tap dancing around the idea of coming back to fight. Can’t blame her for taking advantage of her opportunities.

  • iamphoenix

    I guess I wont be finishing hard.

  • fightlinker

    i dunno there’s enough in there to make me think she’ll come back. And based on the shuffling of the film’s opening date and the redubbing of her voice, I don’t think she’s gonna be a hot property in Hollywood.

    Got myself into a Tuesday screening of Haywire in montreal. yay!

  • fightlinker

    her, rampage and randy couture can join together and form … THE EXPENDABLES!

  • matthewpolly

    My impression is she is a smart, grounded person with a strong supportive family. So what she wants is what any intelligent person wants. Options. She’d like to establish herself in the film industry so she can choose whether or not she wants to ever fight again.

    I think she will because (1) Hollywood is a cruel mistress. And once you’ve starred in an A-list movie directed by Steven Soderbergh there aren’t many options but downward. (2) She’s only 30 years old. (3) She is very competitive and her last and only loss was to a cheater. (4) Fighting is highly addictive. Most fighters have to hit rock bottom before their team and family intervene and force them quit. (5) All she’s gotten is love and praise from the MMA world. I’m afraid it is going to be a rude awakening when she reads the reviews for Haywire. I personally already feel guilty about it.

  • Symbul

    None of her interviews have sounded to me like she’s very excited about fighting again. Not that I blame her.

  • fightlinker

    She’s gotta make a living, right? Too much money on the table for her to walk away right now.

  • FlyngTriangle

    Gina does read as an intelligent person. As a fan, I’d like to see her stay in Hollywood and keep that pretty face as is. In my opinion, a fighter should stay focused on fighting~once they’re preoccupied with any other endeavor (especially acting) their discipline becomes compromised and I’d rather remember her efforts in the cage as they were (Impressive). She may or may not be depleted as a combatant; only she will know where her heart is, but I can’t help feeling as I do…….Besides, I’m somewhat self-centered and I don’t want/need my stomach in knots before her matches anymore. My heart can’t take it!!!
    Good Job matthewpolly! Solid line of inquiry!! With that face and smile staring back at you you were able to keep from stammering……Very Professional!!!!

  • iamphoenix

    With that face and smile staring back at you you were able to keep from stammering……Very Professional!!!!

    over the phone? That is impressive.

  • Mal666

    Knowing that it is not her voice now and it could be some fat dude named Sarah . i will for sure not watch this movie …

  • matthewpolly

    he means i was staring at my poster of her like i always do.

    For clarity. it is her voice, not some fat dude named Sarah. It was just tweaked in the sound room, so it doesn’t always sound like her normal speaking voice.

  • glassjawsh

    what from this makes her sound intelligent?? I always get the opposite impression

  • GameCritics

    Matt, terrific interview. You asked some really deep questions without being overbearing and insensitive. Gina’s response to your question about Cyborg testing positive was one of the most revealing and interesting quotes I’ve read in MMA journalism in a lone while. You deserved way more time with her.

  • matthewpolly

    thank you, brother. Your lips to God’s (i.e. Dana’s) ears.

  • Mal666

    ok thats better lol atleast its her voice kinda wonder if they used the deep voice alien dub …

  • xfreekx

    Am i reading it wrong or did she dodge the question?

    ME: Gotcha. And I just wanted to be clear, because TMZ was hinting that you had been dubbed over by another actress and I just wanted to clear up that that wasn’t what happened.

    GINA: Yeah, everyone was a little curious about that. And I don’t blame anyone for being curious about it. But if I was bald and they had given me the voice of Bill Clinton I still would have done the movie.

    She doesn’t say it wasn’t another actress. “Tweaking” could mean anything.

  • matthewpolly

    i’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. but no she didn’t come out and say definitely it wasn’t another actress.

  • xfreekx

    In the 5 minute clip, the first line she says sounds exactly like her. The rest of it sounds like a different person. There was definitely some studio stuff going on at the least.

  • Gina’s boy toy

    Good interview

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Completely different person.  I don’t see Gina learning how to thoroughly change her accent and enunciation just a few months later.  We’re not talking about changing pitch in post here

    It’s a completely different voice spoken from the throat and sinuses.

    I’m irked at the film makers for ditching her voice, which I think is awesome for a mercenary.

  • Mal666

    agreed i dont see changing her voice as a good thing for her career ..UMMM we just want you to show up plz oh plz dont speak lmao …wow

  • Mal666

    sounds like a good line for the bar …

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Man, that’s some old school porn shit right there.  “Don’t talk hon, we’ll have an old lady dub you in post.”

    Other than that, good interview.  I’m glad she got to travel around and it sounds like she had an awesome time.  Her reaction to Roidborg showed a lot of quality in her character.  Cool gal.

  • Jarman

    great job matt! enjoyable read, a well done interniew. just picked up shaolin and tapped out….lookin forward to more polly goodness!

    curious though…..what was the next question that got cut off? the one her clinton comment lead into? from reading it, it almost seemed the publicity person cut ya off b/c of the lead in, not the preceding question. although your later comments somewhat put a different skew on it, I’m still curious what the next question woulda been.

  • agentsmith

    “Don’t talk hon, we’ll have an old lady dub you in post.”

    The voice does sound vaguely older, doesn’t it?

  • matthewpolly

    Jarman, you got copies of Shaolin and Tapped Out?! You can ask me anything you want. Yeah, I think she cut me off because of the lead, the Bill Clinton line, not what I was going to follow up with. And to be fair, the interview was scheduled for 10 minutes. 11 had passed, and Gina was already an hour behind schedule. So she had a good excuse.

    My next question was: Soderbergh’s last stunt casting was Sasha Grey, did that make you a little nervous? Then I was going to end with soft ball questions: What is more nerve-wreaking: getting in the cage with Cyborg or acting opposite Michael Douglas? Between Channing, Michael, and Ewan, who would have the best chance to make it in MMA?

  • Jarman

    woulda liked to hear her responses….good softballs too…..I would say ewan would be the most likely to succeed. tatum’s a pretty boy, but mcgregor’s ridden around the world, and top to bottom on a motor cycle. can’t beat toughness like that.

    granted, I bought ‘em with gift certificate monies….but it still gets to you one way or another, right??

  • GameCritics

    Voice-change-gate is getting blown waaay out of proportion. I saw the 5-min clip and I could hardly tell it wasn’t her. What’s more important is that her performance seemed pretty good–especially compared to so many other MMA guys (Jon Jones couldn’t even say “Here we go”). Some of the early reviews have been really positive and calling out Carano as a standout.

  • Mal666

    Well it gets pretty bad dub as it goes specially the phone calls ….not ballin on her if i was her i would be pissed thats all ..Big role or not shes a fighter someone should of got bitch slapped ..Can you imagine angelina jolie being dubbed thats all

  • matthewpolly

    Jarman, It all counts. Appreciate it.

    GameCritics, once you see the movie, you’ll know why people are asking about DubGate.

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