For a change, not fighting was all good for the baddest woman on the planet.
Fans have seen plenty of Ronda Rousey’s skills, in mixed martial arts, on screen in “The Expendables 3” and “Furious 7″ and more recently in her new pro wrestling career. But what she liked most about her newest Hollywood project, the Mark Wahlberg action vehicle “Mile 22” (now in theaters), was playing more of a sharpshooter than a butt-kicker (though she still does plenty of that).
“I just love that [director] Pete Berg had so much confidence in me that he didn’t want me leaning on my fight background. He wanted me to show people that I have more to offer than just that,” says Rousey, 31, the first female inductee in the UFC Hall of Fame and current star of WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.”
In “Mile 22,” Rousey plays Sam Snow, a gun-toting member of a special forces team headed by hyper-intelligent CIA operative James Silva (Wahlberg) and tasked with extracting a foreign intelligence agent (Iko Uwais) and his top-secret info from Southeast Asia on a tight deadline.
One left-field possibility went a little too far for Rousey’s character: Berg “originally wanted to shave my head and cover me with tattoos and make me completely unrecognizable, so people would be shocked and surprised. Pantene didn’t like that,” she says of the hair care line she pitches.
Q: Were you a big Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch fan back in the day?
A: I knew [Wahlberg] first as a movie star. I found out later that he was ever a musician. I was surprised, like, “Oh my God, really? I just thought he was an actor!”
Q: What’s been the most difficult aspect of wrestling so far?
A: I grew up with apraxia, which is a motor speech disorder. I had years of speech therapy, and I’ve always had problems slurring or mispronouncing my words. In the ring, it’s so important that you speak so clearly and you’re easy to understand and that you don’t falter at all, that it makes me more nervous and more likely to actually mispronounce things. It’s been really great for me to be able to work on it and overcome those fears that I’ve had since I was a little kid.
Q: Fans really have taken you under their wing.
A: I expected everyone to boo me out of the building from Day One, and every time I walk out there, I feel like I’m just falling in love with every single person at once. It would be fun to turn [bad] one day but it’s addicting to have all that positivity.
Q: Hollywood’s changing a lot because of the #MeToo movement. Are female athletes also seeing its effects?
A: To be honest, I don’t really have that much experience with the #MeToo movement. I notice that men and women seem almost less comfortable around each other since the movement, because everyone’s afraid to have one person [post] one wrong tweet about them. I think it’d be less likely for a male director and a female actor to go out and have lunch just to talk about the movie. It’s almost putting this fear and distrust in people, [and] what trial by Twitter has really done is keep people apart. Everyone has to hang out in a group now. Maybe that’s safer, or maybe that’s better.
Q: Between movies and wrestling, what does your ideal life look like going forward?
A: Just do what I love and enjoy myself and start a family soon. I’m lucky to live a life that is not dictated by necessity anymore. I’m just kind of on a journey of self-discovery and figuring out what I really do want to do.