January doldrums got a kick in the ass Wednesday night when the Cinema Society hosted a screening of Haywire, the new spy thriller from Steven Soderbergh. The film stars former mixed martial arts fighting champion Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a black-ops government security contractor who’s double-crossed by someone close to her. Her neck on the line, she successively hunts down the suspects. Fortunately, Carano, who makes her acting debut in the film, gets to work through a rather nice roster of possible backstabbers, including co-stars Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, and Michael Douglas.


Just before the screening, held at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema and hosted by Blackberry Bold (spoiler alert: there are no iPhones to be found in the film), another of Carano’s cast members, Ewan McGregor, convincingly declared that he felt relaxed on set despite having to film action scenes with a professionally trained fighter. “She’s very precise. I was always in safe hands with her. I didn’t ever think she was going to hit me,” he said. Quite the contrary, apparently. “One time I punched her by accident in the side of the head and she asked me if I was okay—and she was right to do so because I almost broke my fingers.”

For her part, Carano, who arrived in a form-fitting black satin Bebe pencil skirt and jacket, was impressed by her male punching bags, err, colleagues. “It was okay to be physical. It wasn’t egotistical, it was more like we were roughing each other up for the better cause of the film,” she explained in a surprisingly sweet voice (no G.I. Jane stoicism here). “It’s really interesting, if you were to get jumped when you walk outside this place, your natural instincts would kick in. Their natural instincts were all very interesting: Channing’s very passionate and very athletic, and then Michael Fassbender is very tricky, you can tell the dirty Irishman in him is going to do anything to win that fight. Ewan, he picks up things very fast and he’s very smart, so he can be very technical.”


After the movie, Blake Lively posed for a photo with some guys in the lobby (“We’re SUCH huge fans,” they gushed) while Stephen Baldwin did the same outside on the street before high-tailing it to Sons of Essex for the after-party. His walking partner was an underdressed Aaron Carter, who spent much of the frigid stroll jumping up and down like a possessed person and proclaiming that he felt “like Jack on the Titantic.”


Once in the wood-paneled coziness of Sons of Essex, guests like Elizabeth Banks, Billy Magnusson, and Justin Bartha sipped bourbon and tequila and devoured mac ‘n’ cheese balls and truffled mini pizzas. Meanwhile, Tony Danza pointedly avoided any roving cameras. Whose hit list is he on?

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Click here to read W's February 2012 profile of Gina Carano.

Photos: Patrick McMullan