G.I. Joe [see Photos | Videos]
When Sienna Miller arrived on the set of director Stephen Sommer′s latest special-effects extravaganza, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the actress, best known for her work in modestly budgeted dramas, was terrified.
“There was a crew of a thousand and I was used to movies with more of an independent vibe,” recalls the 27-year-old. “It was completely out of my comfort zone. I′ve never done anything on this scale. But once I let go of my anxiety, I really enjoyed it.”
Miller, who was born in New York and raised in the U.K., has received critical acclaim for her emotional performances in films including Factory Girl, in which she plays “it” girl Edie Sedgwick opposite Guy Pearce′s Andy Warhol; and the 2004 remake of Alfie, starring opposite Jude Law.
But in G.I. Joe, due in theaters this summer, she plays the villainous Baroness, clad in black leather and six-inch heels, armed to the teethand with her signature blond hair dyed jet black.
“After a while, I completely forgot she had blond hair,” says co-star Channing Tatum, who takes a drubbing from The Baroness in the movie.
Miller says the role was as demanding physically as her past roles have been emotionally. To prepare, she had to hit the gym, spend six weeks doing choreographed fight training with the top-notch fight coordinator team that worked on The Matrix, and learn how to shoot a gun.
“I can fire a rifle now,” she says, although she admits she blinks and tends to make a childish shooting sound with each shot.
Miller even suffered a couple of small injuries on set. She got a minor burn after running into an explosion at the wrong time, and had to go to the hospital with a swollen hand after she slipped on a rubber bullet.
“I fight in six-inch heels, so it′s a precarious situation to begin with,” says the actress, who won the 2009 ShoWest Supporting Actress of the Year Award. “But it′s more my general klutziness, I think. I will have some form of mild accident just walking down the street.”
G.I. Joe [see Photos | Videos]
Miller says she learned of the part when the Hollywood writers′ guild strike was looming.
“No one really knew when they were going to work again, and I felt like doing something purely for entertainment purposes,” she says. “Normally it′s not the kind of thing I would have done, but then I read the script and found it had really well developed characters, a great villain in my role and it′s a great story. Plus it′s great to do a movie that people actually want to see.”
Miller, who also has her own fashion label, says she had high hopes of keeping up her new fitness regime after the movie wrapped, but that has not happened. “It′s hard,” she says. “I′m flying between all these time zones and then I make up excuses when I′m jet lagged or tired. I talk myself out of things quite easily.”
She recently traveled to Africa with a humanitarian organization called International Medical Corps to help raise awareness of the needs of internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The group provides health care training and other programs to relieve suffering around the world.
“I really wanted to see what′s happening first hand, but I didn′t realize what I was in for,” Miller says. “It was 13-year-olds with AK47s; it′s anarchy. Butit was an amazing experience and really great work.”
Next up, Miller is making her Broadway debuta longtime dreamin After Miss Julie, playwright Patrick Marber′s take on a 19th-century August Strindberg classic. She will also appear in the upcoming movie Hippie Hippie Shake.
And after that? Any chance of more high-octane action movies in her future?
“Hopefully, if this does well, there will be a G.I. Joe 2 and 3,” she says.