When Lost ended two years ago, the band broke apart and many cast members landed on new shows. Maggie Grace chose to go the other direction into feature films, having already laid the foundation as Liam Neeson’s kidnapped daughter Kim in Taken in 2008. After a role in Knight and Day, she entered another rabid fan base by playing Irina of the Denali coven in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2. In April, moviegoers get to see Grace in a lead role in the latest Luc Besson (Taken, Leon: The Professional) project, Lockout.
Grace plays Emile, the president’s daughter who is on a goodwill mission to a maximum-security prison in outer space. While questioning an inmate, a jailbreak occurs and Emile is taken hostage.
“It’s a return to sci-fi in space. It’s not a dystopian ruined planet earth,” Grace said. “It’s a throwback, in a good way; a return to action movies the way they were in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when they didn’t take themselves too seriously. It’s a fun romp and definitely an action/sci-fi movie, but for me more than anything, it was about a fun, sexually charged, adversarial relationship between my character and Guy Pearce’s s character Snow.”
The president sends a falsely convicted ex-government agent named Snow, played by Guy Pearce (Memento) up to the prison to rescue her. If he’s successful, he will be awarded with his freedom. With nothing left to lose, Snow risks heading into chaos to get back his freedom.
“He’s just this chain-smoking, wry, dry, acerbic action hero and no one could do it better than Guy. He has a certain carriage and gravitas that brought so much to our movie and it’s a lot of fun.”
When you look up and down Grace’s roles she has often played the damsel in distress, it’s something she said has happened since she was a teenager in several guest-starring spots on TV.
“I must have ‘IN PERIL’ stamped on my head. Emile is more of an empowered young woman, which I very much enjoyed, and even though she’s not Le Femme Nikita, she’s not trained for the situation, she’s certainly good under pressure and extremely capable. So that was nice.”
See an example of the adversarial relationship between Emile and Snow in the clip below.
Believe it or not, Grace is a fan of genre, especially the fantasy side of things and a self-professed Game of Thrones junkie. She’s self-conscious of how she looks when she runs (and is well aware of videos online). Having spent the first half of her young career in TV, I asked Grace if a return to television is in her crystal ball in the near future or whether or not films have lured her away for good.
“I love the lifestyle of features,” Grace replied. “That kind of gypsy lifestyle. I love to travel and at this point in my life it’s something I want to do a lot of, but the flip side of it is, sometimes in TV, creators are given a lot of creative latitude. I certainly wouldn’t malign television. But I’m also a bit commitment phobic, that seven-year thing kind of freaks me out.”
Hawaii couldn’t have been that bad though, was it?
“No, I’m not knocking it but Lost doesn’t come around everyday. That was pretty original–a pretty incredible experience.”
Editor’s note: Shortly after this piece was written it was announced that Grace has been cast in Kevin Williamson’s (Scream) Fox drama pilot starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy about a serial murdered who uses technology to create a cult of murderers. Bacon plays an ex-FBI profiler who chases the killer (Purefoy) and Grace plays a doctor who is the only surviving victim of Purefoy’s character. The untitled pilot also guest-stars Natalie Zea (Justified) and Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz)
Keeping busy has not a problem for Grace, who will star in four features released this year. In addition to Lockout, she has the Twilight finale in November, and an indie film called Decoding Annie Parker co-starring with Samantha Morton (In America), Parks and Rec’s Rashida Jones, and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul. She’s in the middle of shooting something right now that she’s not supposed to talk about (Relative Insanity perhaps?) and she’s looking to choose another role in the summer but is looking for the right fit.
Lockout is written by Besson, Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather and is directed by Mather and Leger. This is the second of three Besson projects Grace has been involved with and considers his involvement, track record and expertise a valuable asset.
“It’s nice in France it’s a smaller film community and it’s really lovely that everyone has known each other for so long. It’s this merry little troupe. Luc has so much experience in this arena and it’s so nice he can call some of the shots and it’s not this panel of a thousand people that are going back and forth about it.”
Grace reminisced about learning new skills for different roles, often times more than what is actually used, such as learning French for Lost and proper English Dressage for Taken. With Lockout Grace had to learn stunt, combat, and wire work.
“It was good to do more than sell a punch. There was a lot of work up on the wires for the green screen stuff and outer space, which was a lot of fun–trippy at first. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to being a trapeze artist and getting to do flips and everything.”
Because this was the first time she really had to act in scenes that required a heavy amount of green screen, I wondered what she thought about using more imagination in her performance.
“It’s pretty crazy to have that much trust, to have that communication with your directing team and the world that they’re going to create, so you can match the performance to what you’re (going to be) seeing, so you don’t look like an idiot. [Laughs] Luckily there was an incredible group of people there to work with. They created such a wonderful world; it’s been amazing to see each cut as it changes.”
“They had some beautiful art and storyboards; we were incredibly well-prepared. They have this amazing kind of bat cave in Dublin where they created everything. So they showed us what would be there eventually.”
“It’s very much a different animal, so it’s nice to have some experience in that. You just have to suspend the voice in your head because you feel so silly reacting to nothing there. Having whole conversations with people that aren’t there. I felt a little crazy the first time around.”
Crazier than Maggie Grace: the action star? On October 5, Besson’s sequel for Taken comes out and takes place in Istanbul and Neeson’s Bryan Mills and his wife (Famke Janssen – apparently they reconciled) are taken hostage this time. Guess who will be relied on to save them. She wouldn’t say much about the film but that’s the rumor.
“The plot’s driven by a private vendetta. It’s not a coincidence. People balked at first when they heard, ‘Taken 2? How can it happen twice?’ We just can’t go vacation! [Laughs] ‘Dammit, I thought Fiji would be safe.’ [Laughs] It was a really cool idea and they kept the elements that worked in the first one and this one is in Istanbul, mainly. Which is great, because it’s a very cinematic city.
“Taken. For some reason I had never thought that Lost would be overcome in any way. I still get Lost questions, but for some reason I get a lot of parents coming up to me saying that Taken really moved them.”
“We had a great time making it. When you make films, you hope it finds an audience. Liam’s been honest too. We were both hoping it was properly released. We had our fingers crossed that it didn’t end up shelved somewhere. It was supported by an incredible trailer–it was really tight. I remember it was (released on) Super Bowl weekend and I didn’t know anything about these things. I was like, ‘Isn’t everyone going to be watching the Superbowl? Are we okay?’ I was so nervous. You can’t really predict that kind of thing. Now every time I’m in an airport, somebody comes up to me and thinks that they’re saying this to me for the first time, ‘Don’t get in a taxi cab with a stranger!’
Based on some of her scenes with Pearce on Lockout, there’s a good chance for lots of new one-liners coming her way. In addition to her scenes with her co-star, Grace was quick to say that Lennie James (Snatch) was one of her favorite parts but didn’t want to give anything away about his character. She wanted people thinking about seeing the film to know this:
“Lockout is unabashedly funny as well as an action film. It’s a fun night out. I shy away comparisons, but it has that wry, unapologetic action hero (Pearce) that will appeal to audiences.”
Is she hoping for a sequel?
“I don’t want to jinx it [laughs] but I hope it finds its audience.”
Yeah, that’s what she said about Taken too. Lockout will hit theaters April 13 and is a production of Europa and FilmDistrict, and will be distributed by Open Road Films. View the trailer below.