Published on December 15th, 2010 | by simeon0
Tanit Phoenix Talks Death Race 2
As part of our upcoming magazine and Holiday Gift Guide specials, we got to speak with thge lovely and talented tanit Phoenix about her upcoming role in Death Race 2. I want to thank Tanit for answering my questions and for Clint for setting up the interview.
How did you become involved with Death Race 2?
Death Race was being filmed in South Africa, and I heard they were auditioning for parts, small parts, but I got hold of the script and auditioned for the lead character. The director was taken back by my passion and drive to step up against American actresses, he spoke to the producers from Universal and campaigned on my behalf, and that I how I was offered to play the leading female role.
What can you tell us about your character?
I play Katrina Banks, an ex-military sniper sent to prison for killing her superior officer, you find out why in the film. I am forced, by the prison warden, to navigate the mustang with the lead actor, played by Luke Goss, who becomes my love interest. It was a great film to be a part of, I became very good friends with Danny Trejo, who is now my ‘godfather’ in LA, and I got to do some amazing fighting and stunt scenes.
What sort of research did you do for the part?
I am trained in the art of Muay Thai boxing, my father used to race cars and I grew up in airplanes, literally. When I was very young, I would join my father on his skydiving missions. He was South Africa’s champion skydiver, so I felt so ready to tackle this role, as I have no fear of heights. I am feisty and love fast cars and I can handle my own when it comes to fighting. The only other thing I needed to wrap my head around was the scenario of being thrown in prison. Although Katrina Banks inherently is a military woman, she did kill a man, so she has to deal with prison life. But hanging out with Danny Trejo on set helped me get into the mind of a convict. He shared some amazing stories of his past with me.
How was it working with the cast and what challenges did doing an action film present? Were there any challenges from the filming locales?
Danny Trejo and I spent a lot of time sharing past experiences, I feel lucky to have had those moments to get to know him, as I consider him a part of my family now. We share a traumatic, emotional moment in this film. He told me to ‘throw my weight’ into it, so I did, as he has to hold me back from a flaming car. He told me later he was surprised at my strength, he seriously ‘had’ to hold me back! I love Danny with all of my heart, I will campaign to do another film with him when the chance arrives! Sean Bean is my on-screen hero, he is such an incredible actor, and Roel Reiné, the director, added a one-on-one scene in the film with Sean and myself. Watching him create his character was intense, his attention to facial movement when expressing an emotion is incredible. I learned a lot from Sean. The rest of the cast and crew were friendly and serious about creating an action filled masterpiece. I feel very privileged to have been on a set with such a family-oriented group of people.
What were some of the great moments from filming and what would you change if you could?
I fight off three male prison convicts that are attacking female prisoners, and these stunt guys make you look so good. I also climb out on top of the moving mustang to fire a machine gun at a car chasing us, and I get thrown out of the moving mustang! I would have loved to have driven one of the cars myself, coming from a family that races, it would have been such a novelty!
What drew you to acting and what was your big break?
I wanted to be an actress from when I was 6 years old. Coming from a small town in South Africa, it seemed a world away to me to step into the dream job I always longed for. But modelling came first, and it afforded me to I travel the world. I have worked alongside some amazing people and lived in many countries. That gave me the preparation I needed to take the next leap, to be courageous, and I enrolled in acting classes and soon after film offers started coming in. I must say, it is not easy booking leading roles for huge American or English films out in SA. Those leading roles are always cast out in the states, so when I first started, I seriously campaigned for the bigger parts. I needed to create a body of work and had to start making introductions and affiliate myself with producers and other cast members from international countries. As much as you need talent to book a role, it is also about who you know. This year I moved out to LA, where I can audition for even bigger films alongside A list actresses.
What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look forward to?
I am currently filming a 13 part anthology series for HBO, Femme Fatales. The story of woman who kill men. It’s sexy, dark and very exciting. I booked the leading role, Lilith, the most fabled and mysterious of the Femme Fatales. She hosts the show, and narrates each episode leading the audience into the story. I also play different characters in each episode, like the devil on the audiences shoulder.
What do you like to do in your off time and what sort of music do you like?
I am an outdoors girl and I love nature. I wish LA had more mountains and waterfalls and adventurous hikes to go on. I practice yoga, mountain bike, scuba dive, skydive, bungee jump and surf, if the water is warm enough. I have also been involved in my Metaphysics, anthropology, Quantum Mechanics studies the last few years. I am completely fascinated by the Science of Imagery. I have just finished my Hypnotherapy degree and I am now studying up on medicinal plants and organic farming. My family own an organic farm in South Africa, where we are self sustainable and create our own energy.
Music is my life, I am a rock and roll girl. I love the old school American rock songs, but Muse, Queen and Gypsy Kings, Kings of Leon are my ultimate favourites.
What upcoming films are you looking forward to?
I am preparing for another feature film that’s shooting in the UK next year. The story of young Pablo Picasso, where I play lead, as a rich French aristocrat that gets in between Pablo and his best friend.