A hero is only as good as her allies, and in Sucker Punch, Baby Doll has no shortage of reliable partners in her quest to break free from physical and mental confinement. Two of those women are Blondie, a gun-toting brunette, and Amber, a lollipop-licking fighter pilot, played respectively by High School Musical sweetheart Vanessa Hudgens and Real World alum Jamie Chung,.
When Spinoff Online visited the set of Sucker Punch in 2009, we spoke with both women about their roles in the film. On the subject of their costumes, Chung and Hudgens revealed:
Chung: "It feels like we're shooting four different movies. Each costume theme is so detailed and so contrasting to the other costumes that we were wearing the day before, so it's insane. Michael Wilkinson is a genius."
Hudgens: "It's fascinating, the attention to detail that he's created. Just every single thing is so defined. Everyone's costumes are so personal. It's fascinating and it blew me away. The first day that we walked into our hangout lounge area, they had just plastered the walls with photos of artwork and we just stood there and stared at it forever. It was amazing."
Hudgens, despite playing a character named Blondie, sports dark hair in Zack Snyder's action flick. The actress explained that the name is more fitting of her character's personality than her looks.
Hudgens: "It's kind of a funny thing. In the brothel world she does have her blonde moments and I do too, which is funny. But when it comes to all the action, she completely transforms and is this total badass. So it's this kind of parallel thing."
Blondie's name isn't the only unusual thing about Hudgens' character, as the actress herself is an unlikely choice for an action flick given what we've seen from her in the past. Hudgens said it wasn't necessarily a conscious choice to mix up her career path, but rather the desire to work with Snyder that led her to Sucker Punch.
Hudgens: "I mean, I took this movie because Zack Snyder is an incredible director and just the plot is fascinating. It's very appealing. What actress wouldn't want to do it? It's not me trying to push aside everything else that people know me as. It's just that this is an incredible project that I wanted to be a part of."
But perhaps Hudgens and her colleagues didn't quite know what they were signing up for. She and Chung both spoke about the physical difficulties involved with training for Sucker Punch, a process that sounds quite grueling based on their account. But it was through this suffering that Hudgens, Chung and the others became so closely knit together.
Chung: "When you're suffering together, a very strong bond comes from that. We were encouraging each other and giving each other pep talks, like, 'You can do it.' It was really a team effort and I felt the bond immediately. On the first day of training, [actress Jena Malone] was cheering me on on the sidelines, letting me know that I could do it. We came in at different times and it just leads to other things. Like, you're physically exhausted and you had such a good day, and the adrenaline is running, and then it was like, 'Let's all go out and have coffee and maybe cheat with some desserts together and bond like girls do.' It was an interesting dynamic because you had the whole physical and then you had the singing. It was just regular girl bonding."
Hudgens: "My very first day I showed up not knowing what to expect in the slightest, and I get thrown into three hours of martial arts and an hour of the most intense training of my life. I remember that I was holding onto these rings and I let go on accident. [My trainer] was like, 'Okay, we have to do it again.' And I let go again. I started to cry. It's just the most frustrating feeling ever and Jena is right there saying, "'You've got it, V! Come on!' Then I slipped again and [co-star Abbie Cornish] was right there telling me that I could do it, and then [leading lady Emily Browning]. Just knowing that I had those girls there — you weren't there yet, but then Jamie, too — these girls are all incredible and so passionate about what they're doing. So we've all gotten along."
Chung: "And that translates on the screen. You can really see the bond there and the support. You're in a terrible place, in a brothel and in an insane asylum, fighting orcs and knights and whatnot. We only have each other and so that translated well."
For Chung, part of what helped her get through the demanding training process was the realization that she was involved in a very special project and, more over, a unique role for her peer group.
Chung: "I don't finish shooting and think, 'Wow, it's grueling.' It's a daily reminder. It's a daily reminder of, like, 'I can't believe I'm here and I can't believe I'm doing this.' Every day is like a fresh start and it never gets old and tiring because we're shooting something different everyday. It's like the orc world and then we're in our brothel look and then we're in an insane asylum. So there's never a dull moment. But every day, you wake up and you go, 'Wow, we're here. This is what we're doing.' I feel like everyone has this great attitude about it. All the girls, even everyone down in like the set decorators and the painters, the makeup artists, everyone is so thrilled to do something that they've never done before. Like with the makeup, for example. They're always asking us to tone it down and make it natural. No. Zack is like, 'Make it big. Bigger! Bigger eyelashes. More bedazzled. Red lips!' Nothing is toned down. I feel like the theme of this is to use your imagination, go wild with it, go crazy. So it's pretty exciting."
Indeed, both actresses confessed that working on Sucker Punch has likely spoiled them for future projects, if only because of the size, scope and working relationships they established on the set of this psychologically complex adrenaline ride.
Chung: "We get put on the coolest sets where we have the opportunity to play. Walking into the insane asylum and really feeling like you're weighted down by the set, that just puts you into the headspace. I feel like every single set for every single world has been like that, except for when it's green screen. That's a different story. But just portraying every single different aspect of what there is to portray ... we get to be badasses and fight, we get to be vulnerable, we get to sing and dance."
Hudgens: "It's actually like, 'What have we not done on this movie?' And back to the acting, just looking at all the pictures and all these amazing actors and what they've been in and what they bring to the table and how real they make every scene and every world, it's been a ride. I've learned so much from this film. It's been really cool."
Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch arrives in theaters on March 25.