With the help of French mega-producer Luc Besson, Maggie Grace is setting herself up to be another go to action heroine. She rose to fame thanks to a little show called LOST, and became a name thanks to Besson's underdog success Taken (she played Liam Neeson's daughter who is taken by thugs). Feeling the pull of adrenaline, Grace shifted gears from damsel in distress to full-on butt kicker for 2010's Rock-vehicle Faster, before reteaming with Besson for this weekend's sci-fi thriller Lockout. The movie continues the run-and-gun approach of Taken…but in space. Mostly.
"This definitely had a different tone. More of a dark playfulness," told me. "More of a sense of fun. I would say my character was more of a foil to Guy [Pearce], in a sense. His character is constantly winking to the audience to have fun, because he was. She's more of the straight man."
Whereas many of the leading men at the forefront of Hollywood blockbusters are less known for their acting skills than their hulking muscles, Pearce falls into both categories. I told Grace that I thought Guy Pearce came off as a particularly serious guy, but she dispelled that rumor, saying the two easily found their snappy rapport. "On screen and off, Guy is easy to get along with. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a really smart guy. He does have a sense of humor. We got to Belgrade a little early and iron out a few things and figure out what we wanted from a few of the key scenes." That helped, as the "pace was unrelenting" but working with Pearce helped. "It's often a couple of takes, even one take on a few of the action gags. It's intense."
The premise of a space jail may sound a bit nutty, but the heightened realism and sci-fi lunacy was easily digestible for Grace, who has her nerdy hobbies. "I am an Austenite. My geek passion is of a different hue. I have an action figure. 2nd Edition of Mansfield Park, which was an incredible gift from someone once. I have some costumes squirreled away. Some pieces here and there. Some gloves and things. So I understand embracing a world in that way."
As for Taken 2 (yet another Besson joint), the movie is locked and ready for Fall 2012 and this time Grace isn't spending the whole movie tied up off screen — she's part of the action. "It's still grounded in the reality of the first film. There was a lot of running in the rain on the rooftops of the grand bazaar. It was like, 'take 50!'" Maybe the space jail wasn't as intense after all.
So with all the running and gunning, will we ever seen Grace live out her Jane Austen fantasies on screen (she was close, previously co-starring in the Jane Austen Book Club)? "Unfortunately they're pretty serious about casting Brits in those. It would be amazing…Gweynth Paltrow got to do it. She was American. You never know!"
Lockout hits theaters tomorrow, April 13.