Q&A with Gina Carano

The mixed martial artist-turned-actress talks Vegas, spiders and her first starring role in Haywire.

Gina Carano has come a long way since her "American Gladiator" days. As the star of Steven Soderbergh's new film Haywire and a press junket darling, the mixed martial arts fighter has proved to be equally comfortable in cage fights and couture. We caught up with the Las Vegas native just before her action thriller co-starring Michael Fassbender, Ewan MacGregor and Michael Douglas opens on January 20 to see how she's handling the move from the ring to the big screen.

Her training routine:
If I’m training for a fight I wake up in the morning and do cardio to warm up, like running on the treadmill or jumping rope, then shadow box for about 15 minutes, then do about two hours of sparring and technique. I repeat the same thing again at night.

Favorite workouts:
If I’m not training, I like to do anything outdoors like hiking. If I don’t have to be in the gym I usually don’t want to be. I also do yoga and Pilates. Basically the two opposite extremes (laughs).

How she prepped for Haywire:
The training for the movie was actually incredibly intense. I'd do stunt training from 7am-11am, then gun training and Secret Service training. Since fighting brings your body forward so much, I also had to work a lot with a trainer on my back muscles and my butt to straighten me out.

Favorite fight scene:

My scene with Michael Fassbender was probably one of the coolest fight scenes in the movie. It was actually the first scene we shot. I was in a fancy dress and he was in a tux, and we were smashing glasses and throwing eachother over couches in this bedroom. 

Favorite healthy meal:
Chicken and couscous with green beans. When I’m home, I cook a lot of chicken or fish and wheat pasta. When I was training to fight, literally all I ate was vegetables and white meat, then when I was done training, I’d go the complete opposite direction. I’m a lot more balanced now, and I feel a lot healthier.

Ultimate decadent meal:
Definitely Italian. I was raised in a very Italian family. Cheese ravioli from my family’s restaurant, Bistro Roxy in Reno, is it for me. 

Latest obsessions:
Music. I love going on YouTube to discover something new. Lately it’s been Goyte.

Favorite city:
I grew up in Vegas, so it’s what I know and where I’m comfortable. I love New York and Chicago, too. In New York everyone has their own agenda, so no one really worries about what you’re doing. Everybody’s got their own hustle.

Pet Peeves:
I’m not a big fan of feet. You can really tell if I like someone if I let them touch me with their feet (laughs). And I can’t stand spiders. We have huge ones in Vegas. I’ll jump over my back fence and crawl in through my doggie door just to avoid one.

Most surreal career moment:
Making this film. Definitely. I got introduced to so many things I’ve never seen before and went to new places like Dublin and Barcelona. I’ve seen so many different cultures and met so many different, talented people.

Most recent advice she gave to a friend:
Be true to yourself, but don’t get too wrapped up in your head. Sometimes people are so hard on themselves that they destroy themselves.

Three things on her bucket list:
Sky diving, dancing as much as possible and getting a solid career going. Something I can be proud of.

Book on her bedside table:
Blackwater

Number one reason for taking care of her body:
To be healthy and happy. If you take care of yourself you can take care of the people around you. We take health for granted.

Message she’d send to the world (Only catch: It has to be 140 characters or less):
Lay off the greed a little.