RUBY ROSE - TRANSFORMATION

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On the set of her first film, XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Ruby Rose tortured her fellow Antipodean co-star Toni Collette. 

“I couldn’t help myself. She’s one of the biggest stars at home, and I consider her one of my icons. You want to be respectful, but I just couldn’t help myself. I kept shouting out, “You’re terrible Muriel. I’m surprised I didn’t get a slap.” 

Life’s good for the 30-year-old former MTV presenter/model/DJ who, via a stint as a duplicitous inmate in Orange Is the New Black, has reinvented herself as a rising Hollywood action star with three mega blockbusters.

She took a turn as a murderous assassin in Keanu Reeves’ revenge saga sequel, John Wick 2; a gun-toting zombie killer in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and is now celebrating her latest release, XXX: Return of Xander Cage. But despite her overnight success, Rose is reluctant to stereotype her abilities. Warm and grounded, she stuns in a simple black sweater and white shirt combo, with her black locks, slick and parted, providing the perfect frame for those elfin features and dazzling blue eyes. 

And her appeal is all the more irresistible thanks to her utter disbelief in her surroundings. 

“I still find this all so surreal,” she tells me. Full of chat, she opens up about her involvement in XXX and her best friend relationship with co-star Vin Diesel. She also talks LGBTQ representation in the media, her struggles to make it in Hollywood and her Orange
Is the New Black
future. She doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either.  We were lucky enough to interview her on her first press tour for XXX: Return of Xander Cage now available on DVD.  She will be gracing the silver screen again soon in the cult comedy franchise Pitch Perfect 3 later this year, and will star in the highly anticipated action horror film about a giant shark called Meg directed by John Turtletaub scheduled for release in 2018.

SANTOS: Is it weird being in the celeb seat and not the interviewer?

ROSE: It’s still very strange yeah. This is my first press tour for a movie, and I’ve been interviewed before, but it doesn’t stop me feeling like I need to be asking the questions. 

SANTOS: Well we don’t have time for that, unfortunately, so we have to focus on you instead.

ROSE: Ah.

SANTOS: Acting seems to have happened out of the blue for you. How did it come about?

ROSE: Funnily enough, acting was my first love and what I wanted to do with my life when I finished high school. I went to VCA, Victoria College of the Arts but literally within the first semester, one of my first auditions— because they encourage you to do that and get rejected so you can talk about your experience—  it’s literally a module in the syllabus, ‘Get Rejected’ (laughs). But the one I went for was MTV, and I ended up getting it. And it was literally like, shit, what do I do now? I was in shock; they were in shock. They basically said, well you’ve got a decision to make. So I obviously took the job, thinking, “Great, this will probably help me get into acting at some point down the line.” Which it didn’t. It ended up having the opposite effect. And I couldn’t get a job, an acting job in Australia to save my life. Nobody would touch me because I was too well known. Or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself. Ah, the stories we tell ourselves (laughs). So I moved to LA, to start fresh and ended up unemployed and sleeping on an air mattress with my dog for two years. With no work, no discernible income, going “what the hell was I thinking?” And then I got a life-changing call from Jenji (Kohan, creator of Orange Is the New Black) asking me if I’d like to audition for Stella. And against all the odds, I was offered the part, and literally, my life changed overnight. That’s pretty much me over a decade in a very messy, cluttered nutshell, which I know you didn’t ask for.

SANTOS: Were you literally unemployed for two years?

ROSE: More or less, yeah. I was getting offers for presenting jobs and worse, reality shows. That was the first thing I got put in front of me, which I kindly declined because all that defeated the whole purpose of moving out to the States in the first place. I wanted to pursue acting, which is always very easy when you

don’t have a manager or agent (laughs).

SANTOS: You were sensational on Orange Is the New Black, but we only saw you for like 30 seconds in season four. Are you coming back for the new season? Do you even have the time?

ROSE: Well I will always make time for those ladies. Whatever Jenji wants. She says jump; I say how high.

SANTOS: There are rumors that your character is going to come back and seek vengeance against Piper for the whole deception, throwing her in maximum security prison thing. And you’ve picked up some skills from these movies, so that could be interesting. 

ROSE: I could take her out with one shot five miles away, she better watch out (laughs). I mean, I don’t know, it seems like the next logical step for someone wronged in prison, but I think Stella has too much love in her heart and she doesn’t strike me as the vengeful type. I could be wrong.

SANTOS: So you are coming back?

ROSE: (shrugs shoulders). I just want to know what happens next. Even while I was shooting my first season, Jenji would drip feed us the scripts. I was like an addict, always wanting more! 

SANTOS: You seemed, well you all seemed like, you were having a ball on this movie XXX: Return of Xander Cage.

ROSE: I feel like it’s become a bit of a love-fest, this press tour, because we’re all gushing about each other, declaring our love for one another. It’s so mushy and relentless, but it’s the absolute truth. We had so much fun together during filming, I mean, going to Toronto and the Dominican Republic, doing these incredible stunts with people who were like my instant best friends. It genuinely felt I’d known them all my life. Because I will know them all my life. I’m so very confident in that statement. They’re the family I didn’t know I needed.  

SANTOS: You seem to strike a particularly strong bond with Vin, who by the way, has nothing but awful things to say about you.

ROSE: He’s the worst. 

SANTOS: The worst (laughing)!

ROSE: Vin is like my big brother. He’s my best friend, he’s my fake boyfriend. I love that man so much I can’t even tell you. And the irony is that I idolized him watching the first XXX, the first Fast
and
Furious
. He was smooth and charismatic and did these mind-blowing stunts, and he had this amazing smile— he was just the coolest guy to me. The voice, that laugh. I had his poster on my wall, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be him and everything that he was or have him as my best friend (laughs). I knew I would have him in my life in some way. And here we are, best friends. And he was instrumental in getting me cast as Adele. He pushed for me and fought for me, and that meant a lot. Oh, and he got me seven birthday cakes for my birthday!

SANTOS: OK, that’s probably a few too many.

ROSE: I know right? And they were these unreal creations; one was in the shape of decks, which fooled me it was so good, I actually thought they were decks. And he got me another in the form of a rose, which was too beautiful to eat.

SANTOS: But you did right?

ROSE: Oh yeah, of course, it was delicious!

SANTOS: You do a lot of stunts in this movie, which look so natural for you.

ROSE: A little too natural. My agent was like, “why do you keep agreeing to these insane acts of lunacy?” And I’m like, “They’re not asking me, I’m begging them to do it,” which I keep to myself (laughing).

SANTOS: You also look mighty relaxed with a rifle.

ROSE: This is such a weird territory for me to be tackling because I am completely gun shy. I am the ultimate pacifist. I’m about love, not war, and I only touched a gun for the first time when I started doing films and then all of the sudden, I’m doing six weeks of sniper training and hauling around these massive insane weapons. But it’s such a powerful tool to pull you into character, and I almost had to have that because these are people who couldn’t be further from me.

SANTOS: You’ve been ruling the theaters over the past few months with John Wick 2, and now people are calling you the new action queen. Is that exciting or is it suddenly feeling like it’s boxing you in?

ROSE: If people are calling me that, I am beyond humbled and also at pains to convey, that I should be so lucky. You know, I idolized Vin, wanted to do what he got to do with these set pieces and action sequences and now I’m getting to do all that, or at least get a taste of what that’s like. It’s been my dream, and I’m 

going to take these opportunities with both hands. And while they may be in the action genre, there’s huge variations and sub-genres. XXX has a very extreme sports element to it, while John Wick is very underworld, assassin-centric, very dark and stylized and when you get the chance to work with Keanu Reeves, hell yes! Then Resident Evil, I grew up on these movies, and I’m so drawn to that dystopian, apocalyptic environment. And this was the last one, so who would say no to that? Mila Jovovich, she is the queen of action. But, and there’s a but, I am also conscious of the fact that I don’t want to be pigeonholed, especially this early on because I’m only a newbie really and that wouldn’t make sense. After doing Orange, I want to do more drama, but then I also want to do a comedy.  I want to experience as many genres as I can because I want to show that there’s more to me than guns and tattoos and stunts. Don’t get me wrong; I am incredibly fortunate to be getting these chances. Chances I would have killed for when I was lying on my deflated Target blow-up mattress, dreaming of any job. And I hold on to that mentality to a certain extent, that I can’t say no to a job or an offer. I just think that’s so ungrateful to those who would give them left arm for a chance like that. I just have to be considerate in what I do next. 

SANTOS: Do you find you’re just getting the bad ass tattooed action roles offered your way? 

ROSE: Yeah, for the most part. I think it’s like when you’ve done something that’s been received well. After I did Orange, I got offered three different Stella’s, and I’ve got a lot more to give as an actor than repeat what I’ve done before over and over. That’s not me; I don’t like to repeat the same day if I can help it.

SANTOS: You’re a role model for so many, as an actor in Hollywood from the LGBTQ community. How do you think of the current representation in the mainstream media?

ROSE: It’s very gratifying and mind-blowing that I get to be part of what I see right now, a movement in society, bolstered and motivated by the media and popular culture. There’s a constant conversation about gay, lesbian, trans, gender fluidity and so much of that has come from shows like Orange and Transparent and what Laverne (Cox) and Caitlyn Jenner have achieved. And to be part of that or to contribute in any small way, to this wave is so very special. We’re watching more and more characters, realistic characters, most importantly, from the community portrayed on screen in mainstream media and for young kids out there watching, that is extraordinary and has an incredibly positive impact.

 

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