Taraji P. Henson: ‘Movie fight scenes are like choreographed dances’


Actress Taraji P. Henson approached the tough fight scenes in new movie Proud Mary like a dance routine to help her overcome feelings of anxiety.

The Empire star portrays a hitwoman in the action film, and while she had no qualms about handling her titular character’s guns, she wasn’t so confident when it came to the combat sequences.

“I was nervous,” she admitted on The Chew. “I wasn’t really nervous about the weaponry… I played a sniper before, I played a few cops, I go to the gun range on my time off, so I know how to operate a weapon; it’s just the action sequences, the fight sequences, because I play well when I play karate (sic), but now we have to put it on film and it has to look good.”

Taraji ended up using her background as a dancer to her advantage as she rehearsed for the shoot.

“The only way that I could equate it in my mind to make it make sense so I wouldn’t freak out is I had to think of dancing,” she explained. “Dancing is choreography. A fight on a movie is choreographed, so it’s like, usually the stunt guy takes the lead and I follow… It worked for me, and the stunt co-ordinator was like, ‘Oh my God, you pick up on this stuff so fast!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, all that dance!’.”

The fight scenes weren’t the only aspects of the movie Taraji learned to love – she recently likened her character to the female protagonist in the Tomb Raider video game and film franchise, and she felt empowered by her onscreen wardrobe.

“I just felt like a black Lara Croft,” she told Good Morning America last week (ends12Jan18). “I had the pony tail and the combat boots, it was that (part) when she really goes to war, she has… a navy blue motorcycle jacket and these motorcycle pants, and I just felt like, ‘Dang, I could really hurt someone just with my outfit!'”