Negasonic Teenage Warhead isn’t a well-known character from Marvel Comics but with her outlandish, attention-grabbing callsign, she was an easy pick to include in the story of Deadpool for writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The pair didn’t even know her powers when they were looking through a list of available characters the studio had access to. They were searching at the request of director Tim Miller to add more mutants to the film to “emphasize a little bit more sort of superpowers and superheroes.”
Where Deadpool represents the first feature film directorial debut of Tim Miller, it’s also the first major acting role for young Brianna Hildebrand, a musician and dancer who only recently moved to LA to pursue her passions. Convinced to do a few auditions by her managers, Hildebrand is now playing a member of the X-Men.
We visited the set of Deadpool in May and spoke with Hildebrand about the experience of joining the franchise; the style and attitude of Negasonic Teenage Warhead; her superhero costume and role among the X-Men; her relationship with Deadpool and Colossus; and growing up with crush on Ryan Reynolds.
What do you like most about your character?
Brianna Hildebrand: I guess what I just like the most about my character is just her attitude, because she’s so athletic and cool and so unlike me in my normal daily life. She just doesn’t care.
How does she get involved with Deadpool and what’s the relationship like?
Brianna Hildebrand: Negasonic Teenage Warhead is Colossus’s sidekick. When she gets involved with Deadpool… they have this interesting relationship. It’s kind of like brother and sister. They are on the same side. But they kind of butt heads a lot of the time. That’s how I would explain it, he’s my brother. Me and my brother get along like that.
So is she an X-Men character because of her relationship with Colossus?
Brianna Hildebrand: Yes. She is.
You’re a mind reader?
Brianna Hildebrand: Yeah. She can see the future, so that’s cool, too. [laughs] I wish I could do that.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far during production?
Brianna Hildebrand: I don’t know, actually. It’s all been really fun and gone really smoothly. Probably the stunts, though, if I have to say anything, like in the training for the stunts, probably. I was a dancer, so it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had to do before. It’s like, “Wow. This takes a lot of energy.” But other than that, it’s been really fun and smooth. Yeah, I love everybody, so it’s good.
Her ability to see the future, does that filter to the storyline?
Brianna Hildebrand: Actually, kind of not really because in this first… at least for now, what she sees is a little bit sarcastic with Deadpool. It’s kind of just her way of getting under Deadpool’s skin. So it wouldn’t really contribute as much, not as much as her power to explode, because she explodes.
How does that work?
Brianna Hildebrand: She runs and explodes at things. She’s like a warhead. So she detonates, I guess would be how to explain it. Doing the training for the running, that was hard because I’m not a runner. I was like, “[gasps for air]. OK, guys!”
Were you familiar with the Deadpool comics before?
Brianna Hildebrand: Actually, I wasn’t. And then I started talking to Ed [Skrein], who plays Ajax. And he is like a total comic book nerd. I went over to his apartment and he had all of his comic books laid out. So I borrowed a few. So I’ve started reading Deadpool. I’m on Volume 2 of the complete collection, so I’ll let you know how it turns out. [laughs]
How much fun is it being able to shoot here in Vancouver?
Brianna Hildebrand: Awesome. I love Vancouver. It’s beautiful. I went ziplining the other weekend. And I’ve been hiking. The other day the weather was kinda crazy, [laughs] but other than that it’s really beautiful. It’s great scenery.
Acting alongside Colossus, who is a CGI character, what’s it like emoting or communicating with something that’s not really there?
Brianna Hildebrand: It was kind of difficult at first. I kind of just had to build my own idea of who I thought he was. I’m super excited to see how he turns out, see what he actually is and be like, “Oh, that’s what I’ve been talking to.” I’ve just kind of imagined him as this big metal guy and tried not to think too hard about it.
Do you consider the character Negasonic Teenage Warhead a full-fledged superhero or is she a little questionable? Because Deadpool is not. He’s an anti-hero.
Brianna Hildebrand: I would say she’s a little questionable, because she is a trainee [of the X-Men team], so she’s kind of just growing into her powers. She’s still so young, so she’s growing into who she is and everything. So I would say she’s a little questionable.
Talk about her style and attitude.
Brianna Hildebrand: She’s totally gothic. She never wears anything but black and she’s got lots of piercings going on. She’s hardcore.
Does she wear different costumes? Does she have a traditional superhero X-Men outfit sort of thing?
Brianna Hildebrand: She does have a suit. And then over the suit she wears all of her normal layers, like goth-like and leathery.
Would you like to do more comic books stuff in the future, in this universe?
Brianna Hildebrand: Yeah. I would definitely… I really enjoy the stunts of the movie. Even though it has been the most difficult part, it’s been the most fun because that’s what makes you a superhero. So it’s cool being like, “Yeah! I’m so super right now!” So I would totally do more.
Can you tell us how you first came across this role and your thoughts on the first time you ever read the script or a description of the character?
Brianna Hildebrand: Well, with the role I was super excited that she was actually described as gothic for some reason. I guess because it’s… I don’t know. I like to tap into that. But also, when I read the script the first time, I died. And ever since then, like even now reading the script I still laugh at it. It’s hilarious. Actually, when I auditioned for it her name was like Cathy and they didn’t tell me much about her, aside from the fact that she was super apathetic and gothic. So it was kind of like fun to come up with her myself.
How has it been working with Morena Baccarin and the rest of the cast?
Brianna Hildebrand: It’s been great. I haven’t worked with Morena yet. But working with Ryan has been awesome. He’s really funny and cool and someone I used to look up to growing up.
Big fan of Ryan’s comedies?
Brianna Hildebrand: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. He was like my childhood crush. I Photoshopped myself into a picture with him and everything. This is real life. So I was super excited to work with Ryan. He’s cool. And the rest of the cast is amazing, too. Gina [Carano] is hilarious. And Ed is also really cool. So yeah, I love everyone. It’s great. Coming to work doesn’t feel like work.
So far, has it been mostly action or is there a lot of dialogue? Who do you interact with most outside of Colossus?
Brianna Hildebrand: Deadpool. It’s been kind of action-packed. I would say half action-packed so far, anyway, for me. My character is not very longwinded. She’s very short.
Are you shooting today?
Brianna Hildebrand: I’m not shooting today. But my last thing that I worked on was the day before yesterday. It was in the scrapyard. It was right when Negasonic Teenage Warhead gets under this plane wing and blasts up with Deadpool on top, like takes him somewhere else type thing with her detonation.
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor and how did you find this role?
Brianna Hildebrand: I moved to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago and I aspired to be a musician. I’m a musician—I sing and play the guitar. But my managers kind of halfway talked me into going out for some acting stuff and joining an acting class. I was like, “Sure. Why not?” I don’t think I ever really made the decision to be an actress. I ended up falling into this, which is a great thing to fall into. I was like, “Wow! OK! I guess I’m an actress now!”
So it’s still pretty new to me. I’m getting used to it. I love it. It’s fun.
Can you see yourself doing more and playing this character again if there are sequels down the road or similar opportunities?
Brianna Hildebrand: Yeah, absolutely. That would be the greatest. I would be grateful for that.
Is there a female superhero that you would like to play at some point in the future?
Brianna Hildebrand: Oh. I don’t know. I haven’t even thought about that.
Or one you liked a lot?
Brianna Hildebrand: I used to love Catwoman. But, you know. We’ll see. That’s fun to think about.
One last question. This is Tim Miller’s first full-length feature – what’s it like working with him?
Brianna Hildebrand: The director? He’s great. He’s very straightforward, which I appreciate. There’s no beating around the bush. He’s like, “Well, you could have done it this way. That was bad. This is how it should be.” You are like, “OK. I get it.” But Tim is hilarious. He’s fun. It’s never personal or anything.
Tim Miller directs the film from a screenplay by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. It is produced by Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Ryan Reynolds, starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Leslie Uggams.
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
Deadpool opens in theaters February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.