Finally, a Vince Flynn movie on the big screen.
CBS Films has adapted a long-awaited Vince Flynn novel into a movie with American Assassin. It features the origin story for the young Mitch Rapp as a CIA agent on the hunt of a terrorist, who turned out to have a mysterious past with the US military.
The film stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Scott Adkins and Shiva Negar. It is directed by Michael Cuesta (Kill The Messenger) and the adapted screenplay is written by Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. The film adaptation is based on the novel and characters by Vince Flynn.
American Assassin tells the origin story of CIA super agent Mitch Rapp. Long before he was a terrorist’s worst nightmare and before he was quietly loathed and publically lauded by the politicians on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world, but then tragedy struck. Following this misfortune, Rapp was resurrected from the ashes and recruited to a new life in the nation’s most elite covert operations program. Now he is a man reborn with a mission of retribution.
LRM had the opportunity to sit down with actress Shiva Negar, who plays a spy operative Annika in the film. She is one kick-ass female agent who is trying to assist Mitch Rapp in hunting down this mysterious terrorist while keep secrets about herself.
Negar spoke to LRM earlier this summer about American Assassin being her first action film. She elaborated on how much fun it was to be in an action film with the gun training, fight choreography and the stunts. She is known for a variety of roles in both film and television, including 2012’s My Babysitter’s A Vampire and 2015’s The Art of More.
American Assassin will be in theaters nationwide this Friday, September 15.
Read our interview transcript below.
LRM: What attracted you to this project, American Assassin?
Shiva Negar: The story. I read the script and I loved the storyline, because it’s an exciting action-thriller. I really loved the character of Annika. There is strength to her and there’s something empowering about her. She is a field that is mostly dominated by men. She sort of plays the same roles. It’s inspiring to read her backstory to realize on how tough and strong she is. I really wanted to play her. I loved her.
LRM: Have you done many action roles before?
Shiva Negar: No. I got a pretty good taste of action on this film. I always liked action, but I loved it even more now. I got to train. I got to learn a lot about combat. There were plenty of physical training. There was a great stunt team. We had a great ex-Navy Seal/military showing us how to use a gun. There was even weapon training. It was a lot of fun.
I made me realize to discover on how much I loved it. [Laughs]
LRM: Oh, really?
Shiva Negar: As an audience, I appreciated that I loved it. Now being a part of that whole combat training and choreographing fight scenes, it was a lot of fun.
LRM: Let’s start with the gun training then. You said that an ex-Navy Seal person trained you? Or did you went more to the gun range?
Shiva Negar: No, I’ve done gun ranges before. I’ve done shooting. This is so different. Over there [at the gun range], you don’t really learn per se on how to hold or to aim [the gun].
We had someone who was ex-military and ex-Navy Seal. He took us into this big warehouse while we were shooting in London. We were doing all this hiding behind the walls and other things a professional CIA agent would do. He would teach us on how to hold the gun and to shoot the target. And there’s on how to act and react quickly. It’s a lot of fun. It’s almost like going to one of those laser [tags]. [Laughs] It’s for real. You have a real gun and not a laser tag gun.
LRM: It gives you a whole new respect for these government agents for you then?
Shiva Negar: Oh, yes! Totally. They’re all professionally trained. It’s not easy. It’s not just going to a shooting range and shooting for fun. It’s a lot more at stake, of course, on what they’re going through. It’s literally life and death situations. Definitely, this was a great tribute to them as well.
LRM: Just curious. How are your shooting skills in real life? Pretty good?
Shiva Negar: Pretty good now. [Laughs] Yeah, I learned a lot. At first, it’s all fun when I go to a shooting range with friends. But, I’m pretty good now. I’m not gonna lie. [Laughs]
LRM: Well, okay. That’s awesome.
Shiva Negar: I have those poster targets. I [collect] those all.
LRM: So you’ve been keeping it up then. Hopefully for another film?
Shiva Negar: I liked it so much that I’m trying to keep up with the kickboxing skills and some shooting skills. It’s very interesting and I love it.
LRM: Let’s talk about the fight choreography. Was that harder than the gun training?
Shiva Negar: They were both pretty challenging, because they’re not basic things that you would know. It’s a little different than jab, punch, kick in a kickboxing class or a boot camp class. They were very specific with the techniques.
It’s also very different when you are doing it in front of a camera. If you’re doing it in real life, the posture could be a little different. The camera picks it up in a different way. You had to learn on how to do it on camera to make it look as real as it is. So that was also the tricky part.
I got little bruises here and there. I survived. I couldn’t stop. I wanted to keep training for it. It was just a lot of fun.
LRM: I’m assuming that you’re pretty good that you could take our your managers in the room.
Shiva Negar: [Laughs]
LRM: These guys do look tough here, right?
Shiva Negar: No comment. [Laughs] After watching back to some of the scenes, I have some intense fight scenes through the film. It’s funny, because I remembered the producers, director and even my makeup and hair team said, “We don’t want to mess with you now.” [Laughs] It was fun to watch.
Yeah, I’m trying to keep those skills up for self-defense purposes.
LRM: Self-defense purposes?
Shiva Negar: Yeah. Yes! [Laughs]
LRM: Well, you had an amazing scene with Dylan O’Brien. That was pretty good. Was that hard to do? It was that amazing bathroom scene.
Shiva Negar: That was one of the most challenging scenes—most definitely. It was tough. It was great. We were pretty good at the rehearsal. We were feeding off of each other. It’s like a dance, right?
But, when we got to the bathtub—it was pretty challenging. Being in the water was a new experience. I never had to do that before on any film set or in real life—thank God. [Chuckles] It was tough. We had some safety codes in the water. They wanted to make sure that I’m okay and being very attentive.
I survived. My sinuses were feeling it for a while from the water rushing through your senses. I was glad that we got that scene done in one day.
LRM: How many dunks did they make you go through in the bathtub?
Shiva Negar: Quite a few, actually. We were trying to do it as little as possible. I think I went through it eight to ten times. And it’s obviously cause from different shots and different angles. I had to keep getting out while I’m in my clothes and my boots soaking wet. I had to rest a little bit and then go back in. They had to set it up again and we go back in. Thank God that the water wasn’t cold. [Laughs] I was like it’s okay that I’m taking a bath in my clothes basically.
LRM: I had to ask, because it didn’t look fun. [Laughs]
Shiva Negar: No, it was challenging. I’m not gonna lie. It was fun though. It was cool that I got to do that. They were trying to figure out safety stuff like putting cotton in your nose. I didn’t do any of that. I wanted it to be raw. I wanted it to be real. I wanted the audience to feel that. I just did it like it would happen in real life.
I told them, “Let me do it. If I can’t pull it off—I’ll let you guys know and the we’ll try and do something else.” I definitely surprised myself.
LRM: Do you think that was the most fun scene for you or was there something else?
Shiva Negar: It wasn’t the most fun. It was definitely one of them. It was intense and challenging, but also fun in a way.
We had a big fight scene with everyone. It was with me, Dylan and Michael Keaton in this big shootout scene that happens in the film. That was a lot of fun. There was a lot of choreography there.
All the fight scenes were very exciting. I loved doing it.
LRM: How awesome was to be in the same room with Michael Keaton? He’s great in everything.
Shiva Negar: Yeah. I’ve been a big fan. When I’ve heard I was going to be a part of this project—I was so thrilled. I was so nice to meet him. He was great. He was so awesome. He’s fun to be around. He knows when to be serious and he knows when to have fun.
We have this big family on the family and everyone was great. Everyone worked really hard on this film.
LRM: The film is such an international film. Where was the best locale that you got to visit?
Shiva Negar: Well, I was in London and I was also in Rome. I know that they traveled to other cities as well. I really loved Rome. [Pauses] Well, I loved London too. I hadn’t been to [Rome] before. I was in London for about two months and Rome for a couple of weeks. I was being a tourist everywhere [in London]. I took the Tube. I walked the whole city. At one point, I felt like I was living here.
For Rome, I loved the cobblestone and the sculptures. There were so much history there. I’m one of those people who wanted to know the history behind every sculpture. That was very interesting.
LRM: What kind of roles, besides action roles, that you tend to seek for?
Shiva Negar: I got a little taste of different genres, but I have to say that I love action now. I love comedy as well. But, right now, I feel like I want to explore action more for myself. It’s the strong empowering female characters. They’re also around more in action films as well. I feel like I do want to explore that a little more.
LRM: Did you got your start in comedies and dramas before?
Shiva Negar: I got a taste of everything pretty much. Yeah, I’ve done so many random things. I’ve started my career in Toronto. I loved to be able to change it up and expanding the range if I can. Right now on what attracts me the most is action.
LRM: That sounds awesome. Let me wrap it up with one more question—can you talk about some of your upcoming projects?
Shiva Negar: Obviously, American Assassin is coming out on September 15. I did worked on two other fun films in very different genres. One of them is a dance film called Becoming Burlesque. It was great to learn on how to dance burlesque. We don’t have a release date yet, but it was shot after American Assassin. So they’re probably going to do a festival run with this film. I did another small cute project that’s a thriller, which is similar to Get Out. For that film, I don’t have any information or release date yet.
After this, I haven’t really decided on what my next move is going to be.
LRM: Well, it seems like you can do everything. You can shoot. You can fight. And you can do burlesque dance. I appreciate this conversation. Thank you very much.
Shiva Negar: [Laughs] Nice meeting you.
American Assassin will be in theaters nationwide this Friday, September 15.
Source: LRM Exclusive