Every since we saw the first trailer of Charlize Theron's upcoming Atomic Blonde back in March, we knew the film would be heavy on action. She managed to kick the rumps of what seemed like dozen upon dozens of men in the three-minute sneak peek alone.
Turns out however, that the film didn't originally call for such intense action. Trainers and stunt coordinators originally planned on far less complicated fight scenes, but once they got Theron in the gym and realized what she could do and how dedicated she was to the part they decided to push her abilities as far as they could go.
"It's like dance, and I grew up taking ballet," Theron already told W about what is was like to stage the film's intense fight scene. "I love discipline. I function really well within the parameters of discipline and knowing what to do."
Now, thanks to a behind the scenes video, we get a chance to see Theron actually preparing for those fight scene, and "like dance" wouldn't quite be the first way one would describe it. This looks brutal.
"At first, not knowing her skill level, we were going to break things down, do three or four moves, then cut, move the camera over here, a couple moves, cut," says stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave. "But then when we saw her abilities that really hit the lightbulb for us. We've got something special here. Lets try to push this."
"So I changed the directives to the choreography team to like go big, and build it out," adds director David Leitch. "We'll do longer takes, and we'll do more complex moves because she can do twenty moves without cutting."
Theron also noted how the team tried to make the fight scenes as realistic as possible.
"Right from the beginning, it was very clear the way I was going to fight," she says. "How a woman would really be able to fight and not break every bone in her fist."
So the fight choreography takes into account how a woman, albeit a highly trained spy with a gift for hand-to-hand combat, might actually be able to take down entire gangs of men: with multiple moves, using both hands, and often using objects around her for a tactical advantage.
"These stunt guys took so many hits. I had to buy a lot of alcohol to be forgiven," says Theron in the video. "But there were no injuries. There was absolutely nothing ...or so they told me."
Which is more than Theron can say about one of her first fight scenes.
Theron recently told us that during filming of a legendary fight scene opposite Teri Hatcher in 2 Days in the Valley early in her career, she did accidentally give the future Desperate Housewife a black eye.
"Because it was Teri Hatcher, who was a star, and I was this bleached-blonde-Amazonian, catsuit-wearing nobody who was punching her in the face, I was like a wild animal," she said. "Back then I didn’t know how to hone in my energy and I was knocking over lights. I had no concept of a set. I connected right with Teri Hatcher’s face. I felt terrible about it. I had no money and sent her some cheap beer the next day. Sorry, Teri."
Well, at least, Theron had kept up her tradition of buying people she beats up on set booze afterwards.
Atomic Blonde, in which Theron plays a super spy tasked with taking down an espionage ring in 1980s Berlin, hits theaters July 28th.
Charlize Theron Still Feels Bad About the Time She Punched Teri Hatcher In the Face: