G.I. Joe: Retaliation is filled with iconic characters. Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona take on two of them: Lady Jaye and Flint. Their alteregos are a huge part of the G.I. Joe mythology. ScreenCrave recently spoke to the actors about stepping into their roles. Also, Cotrona geeked out over action figures, while Palicki revealed their top secret auditioning process.
Were you guys huge fans of G.I. Joe before making the movie?
D.J. Cotrona: Jon Chu [the director] and myself were probably the most specifically nerded out fans.
Adrianne Palicki: We were all into it for sure. I used to steal the figures from my brother and go in the corner and play and he’d get very upset with me. But this guy [D.J.], he lit his neighbor’s backyard on fire with G.I. Joe.
D.J. Cotrona: I have a lot of training for this role [laughs].
Were you more into the cartoon or the comic book continuity?
D.J. Cotrona: I started with the cartoon and the toys when I was very young. Then as I got older I got into some of the comic books. Some of the IDW stuff they’re making right now is pretty politically intellectual. They make some great stuff. I love all of it.
What does it me for you to have an action figure?
D.J. Cotrona: It’s in my pocket [throws Flint action figure on table]. It’s amazing. It’s a childhood dream come true. It’s a G.I. Joe action figure so it’s the best type you can get.
What vehicle do you have him drive?
D.J. Cotrona: Oh man. See, I collected all of them and somewhere in my mother’s basement they’re all airtight and holdup. But I had the aircraft carrier, which was a pretty big deal. That was the barometer to tell of how big a collector you were. When I go back and visit my parents now I’ll put it in a place of honor on that.
Adrianne, you play Lady Jaye in the film. She’s very strong and isolated from any romantic relationship. What does it mean to you to play such a kickass character?
Adrianne Palicki: There are very few strong characters I think in Hollywood these days. Getting to play Lady Jaye was such an honor. I didn’t get the script until I actually got the part. It’s always nerve-wracking to see what they’re going to do with your character. I was afraid they were going to put in leather and spandex and sexualize the hell out of her. It was great that Jon had a really strong view of what he wanted her to be like. He wanted her in fatigues. He wanted her — when she was in civilian gear — she was wearing boy T-shirts and boy jeans. She was this strong chick, one of the boys. Not standing out.
Since you didn’t see the script, how’d you convince them that you were right for the part?
Adrianne Palicki: I didn’t even know what part I was auditioning for. It was a fake name. To the point where I was like, ‘I’ve never heard of this person.’ I’m looking through the script when I finally got it and was like, ‘The character I auditioned for is not in here. Wait a minute.’
D.J. Cotrona: Anytime there’s a superhero property, this is pretty standard fare. What happens is, you get sides and they just make up names and put them on the dialogue. It’s funny because Jon was saying that some of the early audition material got leaked, and people read the fake names. As the internet will do, [they] made these theories about who these characters were and put out all these stories. It was completely wrong but…
Some of those ideas would probably make a good script.
D.J. Cotrona: Yeah [laughs]. Some of them were incredible but tragically not in our movie.
What was your reaction when you found out who your actual characters were?
D.J. Cotrona: I was super excited. There were a little bit of changes to the script from when I read it to when we actually got to make it just so the whole thing kind of make sense. Flint was always one of my favorite characters, so to get to play him in the movie was incredible.
Adrianne Palicki: Lady Jaye was always such a badass. She was just such a strong female always, you know what I mean? Again, getting to play her was such an honor to me. If I didn’t get to play Jinx, because who doesn’t want to be a ninja?
Can you talk about your training?
D.J. Cotrona: We trained half together on various different types of training and half individually. On the individual part, I trained very hard physically. The usual weight-lifting [with] chicken and broccoli all day to gain some muscle. Then I trained with Team Tempest out of Los Angeles, which is a parkour group. I did that for about six to eight weeks. It was really, really hard but ultimately I think we got some cool stuff in the action sequences for it.
Adrianne Palicki: Yeah, we trained with Marines. We trained with the real guys. Some of them were out of Afghanistan and Navy SEALs. It was really an honor because there are no female Navy SEALs. To be trained by these guys was pretty insane. We had about a month and a half in New Orleans, eight hours a day training. It was brutal. It was actually very brutal… We did weapons training. My character specifically was a weapon’s specialist so I trained with weapons more than any of the other guys. Then you have physical training, you have stunt training, you have choreography, you have unit training where you all work as a unit so you can go in and clear a room and it looks real. It was just nonstop training for a while. But it was great because once we finally got to set it was second nature. We could actually really worry about our characters and working out the relationships and the other stuff just kind of happened.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is in theaters now.