Priest Set Visit Report – Maggie Q

Priest Set Visit Report – Maggie Q
Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Cam Gigandet & Lily Collins on the vampire movie PRIEST 3D, opening in theaters nationwide on May 13, 2011.
Updated: 05-10-2011


Towards the end of the shoot for Priest over at the Sony Lot, Maggie Q came in to chat with a handful of genre reporters. I was one of them. But I wasn’t a handful. I minded my P’s and Q’s. Especially my Q’s.
Question: So we don't really know that much about your character. All we know is that her name is Priestess.
Maggie Q: I guess, it's so hard have to kind of go back. She's basically kind of similar to Paul's (Bettany) character in the sense that they were both, you know, found by the clergy when they were very young, and they had specific talents and they were taken. And then they became priests and they fought a war together against this bigger threat, which is the vampires, against the cities. And she's sort of, she's kind of the heart of the movie. You know, she is the woman of the movie. She is the person with most of the emotions and expresses most of how she feels. They basically get somewhat excommunicated when the war is over, so they are no longer an asset to the church. They kind of get thrown aside, and then when that threat returns, she goes back to find Paul's character to warn him that the church doesn't approve of what he's doing. They end up joining forces and fighting this new war together. Sort of. [laughter] Something like that.
Q: Is this a relationship that is fraught with other overtones between the two of you? Or is it totally business?
MQ: No, it's not. It's not. Which is great for a movie like this, to have some kind of heart to it, and some kind of emotion. They've taken a vow, so clearly they...there can never really be anything between them, but I think that she's always loved him, you know, as her leader and as someone...sometimes that happens. Someone you look up to, someone you have been through an intense experience with, you develop emotions for. But he was married previously, and she's gone now, and he's completely committed to this fight, whether she's in his life or not. And then, because of their vow, it's a source of a lot of pain for her in this film. So she does love him, but she's a soldier first. 
Q: You seem like you're in great physical shape. Can you talk about making the film and how you prepared for it?
MQ: I didn't have as much training as I wanted, you know? Because I came on last, or almost last, and so there were only a few weeks before we started, but I'm using a weapon I've never used before. It's a Wushu weapon. It's called a rope dart.   I did a little conditioning, some boxing, it's what I like to do to get ready for something. And really just a lot of wire stuff. Just a lot of wire rehearsal stuff, because wire stuff is just so technical. It can sometimes be a real pain, and there's a lot of wire stuff in this movie. 
Q: The rope dart you're talking about, that's a rosary...
MQ: It looks like a rosary, but it deploys, of course, [laughs] in our world. And it's got a knife on the end of it that looks sort of like a point, and then it shoots out and it becomes four points. It's bad ass. It's cool. It's very, very cool. Especially for a woman. 
Q: Are there any sort of rules within the church created in this movie about priests not getting it on together? 
MQ: It's actually...those are the exact words. [laughs] I think that's the actual term. I guess it's a's a world that we created. But I guess, essentially, the values would be the same. If you were going to commit to the church in any way, and say, 'If I'm of service to you, then I don't do any of these things.' Sort of one of those things that goes without saying with them. And I guess Paul's character was the only one that was ever able to have a relationship. She was taken when she was very young. So the only love she really knows is him. Or the feeling that she thinks is that. You know, he was able to have a child and be married and whatever, and they found him way later, so...
Q: Is she a virgin?
MQ: She is. Talk about acting! [laughs] Actually Cam's (Gigandet) character does ask me that in the movie. He's like, 'So you've never...?' She's just like, 'I was taken when I was young. Buh, buh, buh...'. And he's like, 'What?' It's really funny.
Q: We were told that this movie is actually scary too, in addition to the action...
MQ: It is. 
Q: Where do the scares come from? Is it suspense or is it gore? 
MQ: It's both. And also, you know, Scott (Stewart)...there's a lot of nuance that he sort of brings to the film, in terms of the style of acting he likes and even movement. He's very specific about movement. And all of that is going to play when we've got our music and we've got our vampires and we've got our...and Don Burgess, or DP is incredible at making you feel, especially when you're in the catacombs and you're searching for these things, this sense of claustrophobia, and this sense of not really knowing what's around the next corner. That's just good film making. I mean, you can, like, slice people up...I don't really enjoy those movies. I think the intensity really matters more. 
Q: Paul's character has obviously lost people to the vampires in the last war and all that. Has your character basically excluded people from her life in terms of relationships? Has she built a wall around her?
MQ: Completely. Especially when you have been given this innate sense of duty from a very young age. You grow up and you have these emotions and you don't really know what to do with them because all you've ever known was to give everything that you have to one institution. And so for her, her battle with that, it's very, very painful in the film. And you see that. And Scott allows that to play in this bigger action movie, which I think is really great, because I think you need that, as a woman. I don't just go and see action movies and go, OK. I want there to be something substantial to care about.
Q: What happens to your character when she gets back from the war?
MQ: Comes back to find him?
Q: Yeah, has she been...because Paul mentioned how, when he comes back, he's just sort of despondent.
MQ: Yeah. Pretty much. I mean, all of us. At one point, you were the protectors of your society and you were gatekeepers. You were the most important members of that society, because they really couldn't protect themselves without you, so you went from being this very needed individual, and something that people really look up to, to being this person that no one wants anything to do with. I kind of thought about it when I was reading it, I kind of likened it to the soldiers that came back from Vietnam. They went, you know, it wasn't their choice. They went, and then they came back, they came back to a country that didn't really understand what just happened and didn't want anything to do with them. And I find that phenomenon very strange. Very, very strange. And so, they've been branded. They've got this complete history and one day you're my hero, and the next day I don't even want to look at you, because you've killed, and you've done all these things that we're all not supposed to do, according to our religion. You did them for us, but we don't appreciate it. We think it's weird that you were that person. So, that is a source of a lot of pain for all of these priests, because, you know, the fall from grace is awful. It's horrible. Especially when it wasn't your choice. 
Q: You talk about the rope dart and that it's bad ass, especially for a woman. And it's interesting. That's sort of an interesting way to put it, you sort of see that, we are seeing more and more bad ass women in films over the last fifteen, twenty years. 
MQ: Yeah.
Q: I mean, do you see that continuing? Do you see a positive direction in really tough, really awesome, but also really female characters? 
MQ: I do. I mean, I think we have a ways to go, to be honest, still. I think that we do give women a bit. We give women their moments, in film. Especially when you see tough girls and stuff. And they always have their moment. But it's always easier when a guy is holding a big knife or holding a big gun or doing something. Immediately they put it in their hand, and you're convinced. But for a woman, it takes a lot more for us to actually be believable on screen. And that's what it is. It's all about believability. And I think that comes from a deeper place. So I don't want to see a woman on screen just wielding some kind of weapon unless I feel like she knows what she's doing. And so I think that we kind of have to work to make our mark and get that place, so that we don't just have moments, but that we're actually part of the bigger picture.
Q: So how do you sort of balance the idea of being woman, but also being a tough woman? Because that's sort of the interesting thing...
MQ: That's what so great about this film!
Q: There are a lot of tough chicks who are kind of just men women's clothing. They're not like women. They're writing men.
MQ: Exactly.
Q: But your character, this a woman?
MQ: She's a woman. That is what I love about Scott and his take on her, is that there's always this...there are moments of stoic, soldier-like behavior, always. There are times where she has to be more void of emotion then she wants to be. But then there are moments in the movie where she absolutely just kind of breaks down. And she worked in waste management for years and years and years. That was the only job that she could get, after being this complete heroine. And you come back and it's sort of like, Scott, he didn't want it to just be about...he wanted her to come out and go, 'I haven't talked to anyone in ten years. No one cares about what I've been through. Nobody understands that I loved someone and he was gone, and I'll never have him. And nobody cares how much it hurts to not be a part of society anymore.' And so all of that, he cares about, and he makes sure that the audience is aware of and gets to experience. I've been in these action movies where it's been, 'Nope, don't, nope, nope, no emotion. Oh, no emotion! No, no.  You don't have emotion.' [laughs] You know? So this is one of the first times where I'm actually able to do both. Because, it's not real to me anyway. I don't want to watch a robot. 
Q: Did you read the manga at all to prepare for this? 
MQ: No I didn't. I mean, I studied the images, but I didn', I didn't think...this is a kind of a departure a little bit from that, in the sense that Scott is very specific about his vision, so I just wanted to focus on his vision. And take it is a dramatic piece, because a lot of it is.
Q: How was it working with the CGI? I know Paul was talking about stabbing a silver pillow.
MQ: [laughs] I think it's kind of fun. I mean, what's good about this team is that the pre-visuals that we had and our storybook artists are incredible. The first day I walked into the production office, my jaw was on the floor. I couldn't believe. So it's not that we don't have an idea about what's happening. We really, really do. We're totally schooled on what we're battling. So that's cool. And after that it's up to us. And yeah, there are moments where you're acting and things aren't there. And I end up laughing most of the time, [laughs] you know, with my cues. But yeah, it's interesting. I haven't really done that, so this is one of the first times. 
Q: Can you talk about Karl's (Urban) character? I know Paul's character is supposed to be really tight with him. His best friend. How close is you character to his? Are there feelings there?
MQ: Well, you get to see it in the flashback, about how establishes how tight knit we are, and how quickly in unison we move. And how on the same page that we are as priests. We don't really establish how close their relationship was. Which is good. I like that, because it leaves more room to explore something else later, in terms of how they all came together. So I like that. But yeah, I mean, literally the church had gone out and found x amount of people. And these people were only able to live this one life together. So my take is that they are very, very close, you know, all of them.
Q: Were you surprised that you guys were filming in California? Because it seems like no movies are being made in California.
MQ: I know. Isn't that great? I'm so happy. But I mean, Screen Gems tries to keep films in LA, which I think is really nice. When I first heard about this, yeah, I heard we were going to go somewhere else. But we do have the desert here. California is perfect though, you know? It's sort of like, what don't we have here?
Q: Tax breaks?
MQ: [laughs] Right, right! Exactly right. Discounts. But yeah, being on the lot...and then the desert is two hours away, so we were able to get everything that we needed. That was really nice. I love being home. I love being able to go home at the end of the day. It's so good. 
Q: They're talking about this as a potential franchise. I guess you can't really give anything away, but would you be...can you see yourself coming back for more film?
MQ: For sure. For this one? Definitely. With this team? I mean, dream team. This is a great crew.
Q: Does this mean you're going to be available to them? 
MQ: [laughs] Exactly! We'd have to make ourselves available. 
Q: So this is the second to last, or third to last day of shooting right now.
MQ: Mm hmm.
Q: Do you have stuff lined up for when you're done here? Or is it vacation time?
MQ: It was planned vacation time, but I actually have to go to a film two days after I wrap this. 
Q: Wow.
MQ: Yeah. And I wish I could tell you what it was, but we're still negotiating, so yeah. I'll be going overseas.
Q: Is it an action role also?
MQ: It...there is action in it, but it is one of the greatest art house directors in the world, so it's a cool take on like, you know, something's a subject that has to do with action, but his take on it's going to be very, very different. 
Q: It's not Soderbergh, is it?
MQ: No. [laughs]
Q: Can you talk about King of Fighters, and...
MQ: Oh, OK.
Q: ...and your role in that?
MQ: Um, not really. I'm not...I'm not a big fan, to be honest. That was a tough one and I'm not...I still have to make my mind up about how I feel about...I haven't seen it. I don't know how it's turned out, so, you know, I'm going to wait to see. [laughs] 
Q: Can you talk about what you're wearing, and it doesn't you have stringent is it with diet? What you're wearing right now is a very form-fitting...
MQ: This is, um, half of my wardrobe, which is good. So I still have another thing, and then a jacket. But it is, it is. Everything is very form-fitting and there's no place to hide weapons. But yeah, I make it a point to keep in shape, whether I'm in an action movie or not, so hopefully I'm pulling that one off. [laughs]
Q: I can't recall, forgive me, if your character made it all the way through in MI: 3?
MQ: Yes.
Q: Have they talked to you at all about coming back for MI: 4?
MQ: I know that they're writing it right now, and they've told me that. So I know that. But that's all I really know right now. And I know that the script's not done. They haven't really said anything, so yeah. But we'll see.
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