Like the Shakespearean plays whose regal mannerisms and cutthroat family plot inform Marvel Studios’ upcoming “Thor,” the Kenneth Branagh-directed movie features men and women kicking ass in equal measure.
Playing battlefield foil to Chris Hemsworth, Jaimie Alexander steps in as the sword-wielding Sif -Â an Asgardian lady with an edge. Known for her roles in cable and network dramas including “Kyle XY” and “Nurse Jackie,” Alexander met with CBR News and the press on the set of the May 6, 2011 film in full-on battle gear, including layers of tough black material and an uncomfortable-looking metal corset.
Below, Alexander details her history with comics and Thor, her meeting with artist Walt Simonson, her ability to fight alongside the hammer-wielding hero while trussed up in multiple corsets, why Sif has nothing to fear from Wonder Woman and more!
You’re doing a lot of action in this film, including this scene that has you leaping from ice piece to ice piece. Have there been any missteps thus far?
Jaimie Alexander: On this one? Like, today? No, luckily. But there were a few times in the beginning, I think I busted my – can I say ass? Okay. There were a few times I busted my ass doing the fight. But then I got smart and put on my low shoes and it went off without a hitch.Â
Is it harder to run in that outfit?Â
Yeah, it’s a metal corset and underneath it is a regular corset, so I’ve got two corsets on. After a while, your abs are kind of spasming out. My stunt girl has to come over, sometimes, and lift me up under my rib cage. I let out a burp and then everything’s fine. Â
Do you have to wear the corset when you’re doing training? To get used to breathing that way?Â
I did, yeah. I didn’t wear the metal one, because it didn’t exist yet, but I wore the one underneath it, and throughout the fight I was like, “Wow, this is going to be really hard when I have to put on high heels and all this other stuff.” But you kind of just get used to it, though. Â
Can you talk about Sif’s relationship in this movie with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), because they have a history together in the comics.
The relationship between Thor and Sif in this movie is quite platonic. They’re good buddies, they’ve grown up with each other, they’re warriors, they fight side-by-side. We haven’t taken it to the next level, yet, I’m going to throw that in there. But yeah, she kind of thinks he’s a little bit pig-headed, but she loves him nevertheless, you know. She’s like, “That’s my buddy, I’ll do what I can for him.” She’ll definitely call him on his shit, which I like, because it’s kind of how I am with Chris.Â
You said “yet.” Did they give you any indication that in the future you would?Â
Um, I think that’s a strong possibility due to the comic books, but nothing has really been set in stone.Â
For this film, did you guys sign the nine picture “attached to the Marvel Universe for a while now” kind of deals?Â
Let me step into my office? Can I say that? No. I can’t say – next question!Â
Between you and Natalie Portman (who plays Jane Foster), would you say Thor has a type?Â
I would say so, yeah! You know, it’s funny. The dark hair, the mole, the eyebrows – she’s like a miniature version of me! A more fit version of me! I haven’t met her yet. I actually met with her trainer yesterday to start doing a little bit of flexibility training with her and stuff, but it’ll be interesting. I’ve heard great things about her. She’s a talented girl and I’ve heard that she’s a pleasure to be around.Â
Do you have scenes together?Â
Uh, yes. This is like being on Twitter. This is cool. Yes, we do.Â
What’s been your coolest sequence filming so far?Â
I think all the fight stuff. I’m cut out for that. I used to wrestle in high school, so I really love it. I love all the fighting and martial arts.
How familiar were you with the comics prior to getting the role?Â
Weirdly enough, I grew up with four brothers in Texas and they are huge Marvel fans, so I had read Thor when I was in middle school, seventh grade. It was a long time ago. So, I read some comic books back then and my brother has a bunch of “Avengers” comic books.
I met Walt Simonson recently. I totally geeked out and I think he thinks I’m a freak! He’s way cool. It was kind of neat because I find Sif a lot stronger than Wonder Woman, so I’m really pleased that I got this role. And you know, as you can see, she’s covered. It’s not slutty costumes, you know, no boobs sticking out, any of that stuff. She’s just a strong female. I think that needs to be done for a lot of young women out there.Â
Are your brothers losing their minds now?Â
Yeah, totally! They’re more like “Is Natalie single?”Â
Can you talk about working for director Kenneth Branagh and what that dynamic’s been like on set?
Kenneth is awesome to work with. He allows us a lot of creative freedom. He’s always saying “Would you like another take, would you like to try something different?” And I say, you know what, if you got what you want, then I’ll be good. Because by that time, I’m usually out of breath! He’s awesome and he’s very personable and he really cares a lot about us and a lot about how we feel. If we’re in any sort of pain in any way, shape or form. He’s very clever and he demands a lot of respect, which I think is great. Without being an asshole, you know?Â
Can you talk about the dialogue? Does it have that sort of Shakespearian vibe that some of the old comics have, or is it more straightforward speak?Â
It’s not over the top Old English, like “Lord of the Rings” would be, or something like that, but there is a very sophisticated air about the Asgardians in their dialogue.
So, how many scenes have you had with Mr. Hopkins?Â
I’ve had a few. He’s actually a really cool man. He’s kind of like a little boy in an old man’s body. That’s the best way I can describe him, he has the best spirit and he’s just so happy and he wears these funky, bright blue shoes to work. He always comes in with a scarf and a top hat, and like bright yellow sunglasses and – he’s just great. He’s just so much fun.Â
A top hat?Â Is he Odin or Elton John?Â
It’s like a cross between two different people! He’s so excited to be in this. It’s almost like I imagine he would be on his first movie, that’s how excited he is. It’s really great to see somebody of that age still – and he’s had such a career – like that still so excited.Â
The sets that we’ve seen are amazing. What’s been your favorite set so far that you’ve worked on?Â
Okay. Um, the observatory is the most gorgeous set I’ve ever been on, but I think I had the most fun on this [ice planet] set.
Does it move exactly the same way each take?Â
This is our first day to work with the moving set and it pretty much moves pretty similar. I mean, I think the rehearsal was worse than the like actual shots that we use, or the actual takes that we did..
Do you continue now on to the New Mexico shoot?
That’s up in the air, yeah.Â
[Producer Craig Kyle, off to the side, “Depends on what she says right now!”]Â
You know what Craig, you know what-Â
[Kyle: “Is it time for a last question Jaimie?” Laughs]Â
How’s it been working with the green screen?Â
It’s been interesting. It’s my first time to ever work with green screen technology, and sometimes it can be really boring because you have to really imagine all of this stuff around me. But it’s low maintenance, which is nice, and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. And they’ve shown us a lot of photographs of what this is going to look like, so we can have it in our mind and use that for our imagination.
Can you explain the other characters that you’re here with today, kind of in your own words, just break them down?Â
Sure. We have Volstagg, who Ray Stevenson is playing, and he’s kind of a jolly good time. Tadanobu Asano’s not with us today, but his double is here, and he plays Hogun, he’s Hogun the grim. Maybe a little bit. Um, and, I forget who else is in this thing.Â
Yes, Josh Dallas! Who plays Fandral. He’s Fandral the Dashing and he’s been loads of fun to work with. He’s definitely always schmoozing the ladies and that sort of thing. His character, that is. He’s married, he doesn’t do that in real life! Uh, I should shut up now!
Then of course Loki, who is our hellion. Tom [Hiddleston] has actually helped me a lot with my accent, because he has the standard RP British accent on his own, so I’ve worked a lot with him to sort of match him and we kind of all match him in the movie.
“Thor” arrives in theaters May 6, 2011.