[5 March 2009]
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
LOS ANGELES - Malin Akerman most often is in romantic comedies like “27 Dresses” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” That’s easy to understand. The blond, ultra blue-eyed Stockholm native has the kind of looks that steals hearts.
As first glance, it might seem strange that she was cast as the “Watchmen” crime fighter Silk Spectre II. Her character must be able to kick the rear ends of criminals while also turning the heads of her fellow superheroes.
She does both with ease in her first action film. And she wasn’t even aware of “Watchmen” until she read the script.
“I really was blown away by it. I ran out and bought ‘Watchmen’ and was just amazed,” Akerman says. “I had always imagined comic books and graphic novels sort like ‘Batman’ with the ‘pow” and the ‘bang.’ This was some real adult content.”
Akerman had no problem wearing a tight plastic yellow-and-black outfit that looks like it was painted on her. She just needed some coaching for the fight scenes.
“Two months before filming, I started training with a former Navy SEAL, which is no less than boot camp. It was excruciating and amazing,” Akerman says during an interview at the Beverly Hilton. “I don’t have a career in crime fighting, so it was a challenge on its own terms. It was quite nice they wanted us to do the fight sequences because it helped you get into character.”
At times the training left Akerman frustrated. She described it as feeling “like a ballerina trying to do fight moves.” She would attempt to mimic what the stunt men were doing, but struggled to match their moves.
She didn’t give up. Even after filming started, Akerman continued training. It all paid off as the action sequences got easier with each passing day.
Despite the physical challenges, Akerman’s main interest was what was going on with Silk Spectre beneath the costume. She never saw the character as some abstract superhero, but as a real woman.
“It was not very difficult to get into this character. She’s vulnerable, sort of sheltered with a stage mom pushing her around. She’s going through a breakup and finding the real essence of life,” Akerman says. “She has a career. It’s just a very unusual career.
“I loved all of the emotions she got to go through. Then added on top of that, I got to live vicariously and be the femme fatale.”
That meant she got to play a scene that has never been seen in a mainstream comic book movie. Silk Spectre II and Nite Owl share a very naked and very intimate moment.
Akerman found that scene as technically difficult as any fight sequence. Each movement was choreographed for the cameras. Still, it was awkward.
“In the end, there is not much that is romantic about being in that moment. There are people around you. The Owl Ship is not a bedroom. It is an awkward thing to do a sex scene and be half naked with someone who is not your husband,” Akerman says.
“Watchmen” opens March 6.
The hero: Silk Spectre II. Secret identity: Laura Jupiter. Daughter of the original Silk Spectre.
The actor: Malin Akerman. Her credits include “The Comeback,” “The Brothers Solomon,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “27 Dresses.”