Jena Malone (Rocket) agreed that the work was both transformative and empowering, saying:
“Never in my life have I had someone look at me and say, 'well you look like you could take on am army of men.' To have Zack Snyder imbue that kind of belief in us, we started believing it, and we starting seeing the results in the gym and the stunts and the gun work."
“It was definitely a challenge,” Browning continued “but I kind of embraced the challenge, as I think all of the girls did. I've probably never done a role this challenging, but I've also never had this much fun working on a film before. You can look at it as hard work or you can look at it as...” as Vanessa Hudgens added, “getting paid to be in the best shape of my life [and] use my body as art.”
In fact, Jamie Chung (Amber) contends that the most difficult thing for her was “switching between fight mode and graceful mode as a dancer.” In addition to the swords and firearms that the ladies learned to wield, there were dances to master and songs to sing for this film. Each character (with the exception of Baby Doll, whose dancing is left best to our imagination as you will see in the film) had a signature dance, one that reflected who and what they were representing in the film.
Jena, for example, whose iconic character was a nurse, “got to play a sci-fi zombie nurse" and "did a pole dance down a giant syringe. I start in the syringe and pole dance my way down," the actress explains, "and all my back-up dancers have syringes. The hardest part for me was learning the pole dance. I mean the bruises that I got in comparison to doing months of stunt training and stepping away unscathed.”
Ultimately, all of the dances were left out of the final film (you can look for them on the director's cut) and only Emily Browning's haunting voice remains on the soundtrack. The fight, stunt, and weaponry work, however, are all there on the screen. Each of the women expressed a feeling of affection for the time they spent working and preparing for the film.
As Abbie Cornish enthused:
“I loved losing myself in it, loved the meditative state I found when we were doing martial arts training. I love the shotgun...the first time I fired that thing and it hit me in the side of the head, and it was like a grown man punched me in the face.”
When asked if getting cold-clocked often inspires warm and tender feelings, Cornish laughingly responded, “Well it was the beginning of the relationship and we had to work it out. I did love the shotgun, but there was also something about the fluidity of the sword that was like dancing.”
As Emily Browning reflected: “For novelty I love the Lewis gun, it weighed more than I did and it had to be on wires and it would spray me with gunpowder which I found oddly satisfying.”
Conish agreed: “It's kind of crazy how much we did love the smell of gunpowder, though. After we finished the film I remember going to this candle store and there was this candle called gunpowder and I was so excited...but it was actually really disappointing, it didn't smell like real gunpowder.”
Browning mused, “We should bring out a “Sucker Punch” fragrance that's just gunpowder and sweat.”
One thing seems certain: the connection that the women of Sucker Punch made during production (which included talking late into the night about their characters' histories and nearly missing flights because they were so engrossed in their creations) has endured. They remain fans of the movie, and of each other.
“We loved it,” Cornish said of the final film, “we were blown away, we were the rowdiest audience members you've ever seen. We were cheering each other on and screaming.”
“For me, when I usually watch myself in a film, I can watch it once, and then I don't need to see it again and its always a little bit like 'mmm that’s me, that’s my face.' This was entirely different. I loved it, I enjoyed it so much especially seeing my close friends up there kicking ass as well as myself, it was such a satisfying feeling. And visually it was so exciting and cool, I feel like I could keep watching this film – which is a really big thing for me to say.”
Sucker Punch opens in theaters Friday.