Maggie Grace Q&A: Movie career is ‘a pretty exciting ride'

This fall, she’ll reprise her roles in a couple of mainstream sequels (“Taken 2” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2”), in addition to appearing opposite Helen Hunt and Samantha Morton in the indie drama “Decoding Annie Parker.”

For the time being, there is the futuristic action thriller “Lockout.” Set on a maximum-security prison space station, the movie casts Grace as the plucky daughter of the president. While she’s visiting the facility on a do-good mission, the inmates break free and hold her hostage. Enter co-star Guy Pearce to the rescue, playing a wisecracking bounty hunter of sorts.

Although she has been in Atlanta shooting an as-yet-untitled TV pilot with Kevin Bacon, Grace, 28, spoke about her new movie during a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles.

Q: On paper, at least, this character in “Lockout” might read like your standard-issue damsel in distress. Is that part of the acting challenge -- taking a potentially familiar role and making it your own?

A: She struck me as an incredibly capable young woman who knows how to negotiate her role as someone in a position of responsibility. She certainly has a strong world compass and she responds amazingly well under pressure. True, she’s not exactly trained for the situation she finds herself in, but that’s OK. There’s still a strength about her in spite of that.

Q: What typically draws you to a project? The character? The story? The other actors or directors involved?

A: In this case, it was all of that. It was partly about [writer-producer] Luc Besson. We’ve done three films together now and I love working with him. He uses the same crew and it’s good getting back together with them again. But it was also partly about getting to play this kick-ass woman, and partly because I appreciated the script’s sense of humor. A lot of action movies are self-conscious and take themselves too seriously. When I first read this one, it had me cracking up and I immediately embraced that.

Q: Talk about working with Guy Pearce.

A: He’s such a ridiculously funny and intelligent guy. I couldn’t imagine this movie without him. Most people think of him as a more cerebral, actor’s-actor type, which he absolutely is, but it’s like he can do almost anything. Maybe this movie will make him the next big action hero, too.

Q: How did you physically prepare for your action scenes?

A: I wanted to do as many of my own stunts as possible. We shot it in Belgrade, so I arrived early to work on combat training. I also wanted to familiarize myself with all the wire work and to get comfortable with the idea of doing so many scenes suspended in front of a green screen. That can be hard work, but it can be a lot of fun, as well.

Q: How has your life changed since your movie career started taking off?

A: Mainly, it just means a lot more traveling. I’ve become a really expert packer. I’m really enjoying it, though. It’s a pretty exciting ride.

Q: Have you been able to see much of Atlanta while you’ve been working here?

A: So far, I haven’t had a lot of spare time, but I’m dying to get back over to Little 5 Points again.

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