Action on Film Maverick Award winner Tracey Birdsall will be playing the lead role of Sienna in “Robot Fighter.” In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, she talked about what it was like to both produce and star in the movie.
The science-fiction film has been set in a distant future where an artificial intelligence has overthrown humanity on Earth and on other worlds. Birdsall described her character in the movie as a “rogue warrior” who is attempting to stop the artificial intelligence.
“She also has some inner struggles that she’s dealing with which make her character really interesting,” the actress said. “Her character has some very challenging issues, which make not just the physical journey enticing, but also the psychological aspect of her journey. I love these strong female characters in character-driven science fiction.”
Birdsall will be seen in some of the action sequences in the film, as her character takes on the robots. The actress described her experience in filming those sequences as “brutal,” but added that she had the “most fun” while making the movie.
“I worked on my endurance leading up to the more action-packed days and ate a million calories [in actuality, up to 7,000 calories per day]. At the end of the day, most of the action and reactions were real. However, there’s always an imperfect fall/roll/mishap. I ended many a day with photographing my bruises as the pride of accomplishment runs deep,” she said.
Birdsall’s favorite scene in “Robot Fighter” was the one where she was supposed to apply a chokehold on her fellow cast member Tim McGrath (Blister). “Throughout the dialogue, there was a fly that kept landing on his cheek. After several takes of an intense scene and this happening, I slapped the fly on his cheek without even thinking about it -- at which point the director [Neil Johnson] said, ‘That was great!’ -- and we did it in every take after that. When Tim was having his close-up, he wanted me to choke him harder to make it more realistic in his reactions: Love that in an actor. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want to hurt him. We decided to use a safe word, and that word was ‘Purple,’” she said.
As a producer of the film, Birdsall said the experience was a “wild ride” for her. “As a producer, I loved seeing the tortuous state of the lead character and her journey -- wherein as an actress I knew I had to not just perform, but endure. It was a challenging role for sure, although I was on both ends of making that happen ... ‘Robot Fighter’ was a perfect blend of something director Neil Johnson and I wanted to make, albeit a wonderful role with nice arcs to perform. It also fits well in the marketplace as a character-driven film-involving technology that is already quite advanced in current robotics,” she said.
“Robot Fighter” was filmed in a few locations that will be familiar to sci-fi movie fans. One of the locations is the same place where scenes in the 1983 installment of the original “Star Wars” trilogy were shot. “We’ve shot in various locations to stand in for other worlds. We’ve shot a lot in the Salton Sea, Yuma, Arizona [“Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”], Trona Pinnacles [“Planet of the Apes” and “Star Trek”], the back hills of Malibu, etc. We basically shoot in places that feel like other worlds even when you visit!” Birdsall said.