Kick-ass KiKi takes on Charlize Theron
KiKi Layne was faced with a seriously tough assignment on the very first day of filming her new movie The Old Guard.
After months of training, the rising US star, best known for her role in the acclaimed 2018 dramaIf Beale Street Could Talk, turned up eager to get stuck into work on the Netflix action thriller, only to be told her assignment for the day was to try to beat the stuffing out of Charlize Theron.
Not only was the Oscar-winning star of Monster one of the actors Layne idolised and dreamt of emulating, but Theron has also set the gold standard for women in action movies in recent years thanks to kick-ass roles in Atomic Blonde, The Fate Of the Furious and, especially, as the resourceful, relentless, resilient Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
"On day one, I walked to this little plane set, up in the air on hydraulics, and I'm told it's time for me to go toe-to-toe with Charlize Theron," recalls Layne over the phone from her family home in Ohio, having fled the Los Angeles coronavirus induced lockdown. "There were definitely some nerves and me questioning 'what the hell did I get myself into?'
"But just being able to watch and learn from Charlize and the command that she has as an artist and a storyteller and her knowledge of film and the action genre. On the day I was horrified that that's where we started but looking back I am actually very grateful that's where the journey of filming started for us."
The Old Guard tells the story of a group of immortal warriors, centred around Theron's millennia-old Andy and Layne's US Marine Nile, a new recruit to the group shocked by her new powers after surviving an attack that should have killed her in Afghanistan.
While Layne was drawn to the idea of starring in a female-led action film - which she hopes will soon become so commonplace as to be barely worth commenting on - she was also intrigued by the question of what immortality would do to a person and whether it would end up being a blessing or a curse.
With all the unrest in her homeland right now, thanks to the COVID-19 chaos, protests and political uncertainty, she thinks it's a good time to ponder that very question of what we should do with the years given to us, whether they are counted in centuries or the average human life span.
"I think it's a question that we all ask ourselves right now," she says. "I started off feeling a little low but now I am starting to feel a bit more optimistic because I am seeing a lot more people and I feel like they are trying to serve something greater than themselves."
Like the ever-versatile Theron, Layne is eager to try her hand in a variety of genres, and her next project is Coming 2 America, the long-awaited sequel to Eddie Murphy's endlessly quotable 1988 comedy, due for release in December.
"It's going to be a lot of laughs," Layne says. "I haven't seen it yet but I am just basing that off the crazy fun that we were having making it. I think that fans of the original film will be happy to see a lot of familiar faces and characters.
"Every day on set between Eddie and Arsenio (Hall) and Wesley Snipes, I was just sitting there like 'yo, I cannot believe that I am on set with these legends'."
The Old Guard streams on Netflix from tomorrow.
Originally published as How kick-ass KiKi took on Charlize Theron