Cobie Smulders: 'It's fun to jump into the boys' club'
Cobie Smulders, who plays a soldier in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, is grateful to live in an era where more women are kicking butt
There is a feminine revolution going on in Hollywood and Cobie Smulders is part of it.
The 34-year-old Canadian actress is the female lead in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, which opens here tomorrow. It sees Tom Cruise reprising his role as Reacher, the ex-military police major who now operates alone, and Smulders plays his replacement, Major Susan Turner.
Accused of espionage, Major Turner goes on the run with Reacher and proves to be his equal in resourcefulness, strength and bravery.
As Major Turner, Smulders shares almost the same amount of screen time as Cruise, as opposed to being a sidekick or sidelined romantic interest.
Speaking to M on the phone from Beijing last week, Smulders said she is excited to be working in a time when her female counterparts are getting plum roles, and classic male-centric films like Ocean's Eleven and Ghostbusters are being remade with female casts.
"I love it, I think it's fun to jump into the boys' club," she said.
"It's really exciting to portray a female military officer on screen.
WONDER WOMAN: Canadian actress Cobie Smulders (above) plays Major SusanWONDER WOMAN: Canadian actress Cobie Smulders plays Major Susan Turner (left, with co-star Tom Cruise) in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. PHOTOS: UIP Turner (above, with co-star Tom Cruise) in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. PHOTOS: UIP
"The world's population is 50 per cent women, so it's nice to know that we are being represented more, and being taken more seriously."
You're famous for playing spunky female characters like Maria Hill in The Avengers, Robin Scherbatsky in How I Met Your Mother, and now Major Susan Turner. Do you consider yourself a tomboy?
Well, it's hard to define myself as a tomboy. But I guess I am extremely competitive and stubborn and not too girly. I enjoy getting down and dirty. I played soccer, basketball and volleyball in high school.
But I do have a girly side, too. I enjoy getting my nails done and going to spas. Then again, so does my husband (actor Taran Killam). So I don't know if you can truly consider that girly (laughs).
What was it like playing a character who was both romantically drawn to Tom Cruise and resisting his orders to back down and let him take charge?
Our characters are both alphas who are used to giving commands, not following them, so it naturally created some friction. And we were saddled with a 15-year-old girl, Sam (played by Danika Yarosh), and that created this weird family dynamic.
The Jack Reacher character is interesting because we see him as someone who is strong, but who chooses to be vulnerable and to go through the world alone. I think it's a common struggle to relate to.
Your role is physically demanding. How did you get in shape for it?
I was fairly intimidated because I don't work much in the action genre.
I've been in bigger action films (like Avengers: Age of Ultron), but I haven't done much fighting there myself. As the Major, I had to pick up hand-to-hand combat skills and also look like a master of those skills.
I had broken my leg not long before training started, so I was in the weakest physical state of my life.
I had to build up my strength slowly, doing physiotherapy and recovering my balance.
I did some fairly intensive physical training for three weeks before going to shoot in New Orleans, and built up my endurance from there.
You spoke to some female military personnel as part of your research for the role. Do you think you could have joined the military in another life?
No, I don't think I am that strong. I think it takes a determined and honourable person to live your life in the servitude of others. That's why I have so much respect for people in the military.