Gametyrant writer Willard B continues his interview series with the actors of Machinama's Street Fighter: Resurrection with an interview with Natascha Hopkins! Check out the series exclusively on go90!
Willard: So we want to get to know you a little bit. How long have you been doing stunt work, and how did you get involved with that?
Natascha: I've been doing it for about 13 years. I was a gymnast growing up,not really competitively. But I was on a set, and saw them do a mediocre stunt.A car went up over a curb, and I thought "I can do that!" and the stunt people taught me and they mentored me and they taught me the way. And they neededan African American too, there's not a lot of us.
Willard: You've got some really impressive stunt creditsunder your belt, like your work on Mad Max What was that like?
Natascha: Oh man, that was challenging. Because we shot in West Africa for 6 months. One month was just rehearsals , and we all had to be really lean so we were on a crazy diet, and working out 10 hours a day. Then when it came to shooting it was freezing! Everybody thinks it was so hot, but it was freezing! And the vehicles, they were custom made so we didn't have any type of heat or anything like that. But it was great, the director George knows exactly what he wants. We had 2 units, sometimes we had 3 units so it was definitely big film. Long hours, 6 day work weeks so we really put our time in.
Willard: Well it seems to have payed off, was it 6 Oscars this year?
Natascha: Yeah, it's awesome! Unfortunately we don't have a category for stunts, but I really think that our coordinator Guy Norris and our team, I really believe we would have gotten an Academy Award for stunts.
Willard: Yeah, I agree. Going with that, since there isn't a category for stunt work, what is the feeling like for you guys that there isn't one for you?
Natascha: I thinks it's a bit saddening; it's insulting as well because, and not to take anything away from costume, hair, makeup, cinematography but we're a team. Without the camera department, without the lighting department, without all of the departments you know, that's what makes a picture. So for the stunts, and me too because I was a part of it, it took 6 months out of my life, it's hard. Because when they were showing for all of the departments that won awards it was stunts in all of the clips, and we don't even have a category! So, it was exciting and I obviously felt honored to be a part of it, but it was a little heartbreaking too because I think if this was the year that we would have had a category for stunts, we really would have gotten it. But I mean there was a big rally that happened a couple weeks ago with a lot of stunt people who were available rallying for it, so I think that it's eye opening for not only the general public but also for the Academy. And 9 times out of 10 if we do a stunt, even if it's on a TV show, it's usually in the trailer or in the preview, it's always there. It's very strategic. A lot of times your calculating not only the risk of the stunt so it's like mathematics. The wire work, the weight, there's so much that goes into stunts, and I don't think people really realize it's a whole world of it's own.
Willard: Yeah, and a lot of what we as viewers actually see is you guys doing that work. Especially with Mad Max which was so loaded with stunt work you guys are mostly what we're seeing. Can you tell me a little more about the rally, and what is being done to really see that you guys get a category for stunt work?
Natascha: I believe it's been ongoing for many many years because even for the Emmys we do get Emmys for it, but it's a little scroll on the bottom of the screen, it's still not recognized. But for the rally basically over 100 stunt performers went and rallied and they had the signs, and we had a petition that went around and basically just saying "Academy, we want to be recognized." and rightfully so. So we'll see, maybe next year we'll have a category. But it doesn't just stop there, it's letters and meetings, it doesn't just stop just for the awards this year.
Willard: I'm really glad you brought that up, because it's really unfair that you guys don't get the acknowledgement you deserve when your bascially doing most of what we see.
Natascha: Right, and I think too on the other end the audience wants to believe that the character is doing the stunts as well. Because we debate this all the tiem when an actor goes on a talk show and they talk like "Oh yeah I did my own stunts." and clearly, even contractually usually they can not do their own stunts. It's our job and we're trained to do it, and if it's something specific like driving or wire work sometimes they'll even call in a second or third stunt person just to perform that specific job. So really actors don't have to do the stunts. But it's hard when they say that they do, but I think the only reason why they may not want to show that is because you're exposing that. It's movie magic, and people want to believe that's really Superman up in the air. I think that's the only thing that might take it out to say that.
Willard: So let's talk a little about Street Fighter: Resurrection. Can you tell me a little about that and how you got involved with that?
Natascha: How I got involved is another video I did for DJI and I was doing some fighting and some parkour, and Joey saw the video and I was referred from the stunt coordinator Ben Odin to
Joey, so he had seen my previous work from this particular video. So I sent in my audition tape, and did as much research as I can. There's not much on this character because it's so new, Laura is a newby but she's still very fierce. It was about 2 weeks that I had to prepare and then 1 week to shoot everything.
Willard: So with Laura, like you said there's not a lot of information, so what's the thing about her that you like the most?
Natascha: I love that she is gracefully powerful, if that makes sense, she's so confident in what she does. And her fighting style is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Capoeira, so it's like a dance. For me it was actually pretty challenging, the Capoeira portion of it, because I'm not the most coordinated person. But with her tactics it's very sleek and just graceful in what she does, and she knows her own strength. With Jiu Jitsu even in real life as I was training for this role is even though you may be smaller, you can still beat your opponent and it just makes sense. With your grappling and your holds as a technique it's very meticulous, so it's believable.
Willard: So after this, what are you working on now?
Natascha: There's a film called Kiss Kiss and it's pretty dope as well because I'm able to do my own stunts as well, but it's like a female version of Fight Club. So it's underground, kinda nitty gritty. It kind of has a Hunger Games feel because they're performing, so to speak, but their really fighting to the death. So unlike Laura, where she's not killing, but with this character she's fighting for her life and if they match up you either live or die by killing.
Willard: That sounds pretty intense. So for you was it a lot of fun to do something like that?
Natascha: Absolutely! We start rehearsing next week, so we're still diving into the script and character development now, but it's a dream. I think for some people who are actors as well it's really a dream to be able to do both because I feel like the performance is multiplied because you don't have to stop and say "Okay, bring the stunt person in." and you don't have to follow someone because even the stunt people have to walk like the actor, you have to immitate their posture. With this one you're doing both so you don't think about that, all you do is think about the honesty of the character, so it's like a dream. Especially fighting nitty gritty with other girls,its really awesome.
Willard: I won't take any more of your time, again thank you, you've been really awesome to do this!