In Total Recall, a Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale smackdown isn't girly
BEVERLY HILLS—Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale aren't the first two women to go at it in an old-fashioned, no-holds-barred on-screen smackdown. You might remember Vivica A. Fox's Vernita Green and Uma Thurman's Bride destroying glass coffee tables, knick-knack shelves, and half of an idyllic suburban home in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Or the Bride doing battle with Daryl Hannah's Elle Driver in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Or the Bride duelling Chiaki Kuriyama's Gogo Yubari and her mace on a chain in Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
Or… Well, let's face it: it's not often that a film has two women doing their best to destroy each other in close quarters. And that explains why the big buzz moment in the new Total Recall remake has Beckinsale and Biel beating on each other in a hand-to-hand combat scene, the two spilling each other's blood in the close quarters of an elevator.
It's the scene that comes up again and again at a Los Angeles news conference with the film's director, Len Wiseman, and stars Biel, Beckinsale, and Colin Farrell. One of the things that Beckinsale loves about the standoff is that there is nothing girly about it.
“I know that people have been talking about the fact that Jessica and I fight each other,” Beckinsale notes in a Beverly Hills hotel room. “One of the things that I liked about it was that it was very much conceived as a fight that could have been two men. It wasn't one of those ones that you get in movies where someone's clothing gets ripped and it all happens in a sexy way. It's quite a vicious fight.”
That sentiment is echoed by Biel.
“The gender neutrality of this particular fight was really exciting for us,” she says. “It wasn't about anything but two incredibly capable warrior women just beating the shit out of each other.”
Wiseman, who also happens to be Beckinsale's husband, is pleased that audiences aren't watching stunt doubles do all the heavy lifting. He notes that with special effects dominating so much of what we see in the movies these days, having two actors step up and do their own fight sequence somehow seems exciting and new.
“To push the limits, the more the actors can do, the better the experience is,” Wiseman argues. “We had the stunt players, who were fantastic, but 90 percent of the fight is with Jessica and Kate. I thought it wasn't fair to say, ‘Here's Jessica Biel; here's Kate Beckinsale, and… watch their stunt doubles go at it.”
The big question— even though they pretty much fight to a draw in Total Recall—is who is more accomplished at handling herself? Biel suggests that she might come out on the losing end of a real-life battle, partly because Beckinsale has received plenty of martial-arts training during the Underworld movies that she's done in the past.
“This is the question that everyone keeps asking, and I don't know,” Biel says with a laugh. “I think probably she would because she's got more experience in this kind of really kicking-ass kind of world. She's wiry. I would be afraid if I ran into her late in a dark alleyway.”
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Watch the trailer for Total Recall.