The star reveals how she conditioned herself to be a ballet badass in her latest film role
For Red Sparrow, the training and preparation was grueling. For the ballet scenes, I worked for about four months in the run-up to filming. I had no skills at the start. I was training around five times a week for 3-4 hours a day and dieting at the same time. I shot the ballet scenes first, so that made things easier.
With the ballet training, we did a lot of barre exercises. That really helped with my flexibility, posture, core strength, range of motion and my joints. And that training informed how Dominika walked and carried herself.
With the training, in that three-month time frame, I’m never going to be able to dance for the Bolshoi Ballet! That requires years of intense work and a level of talent I have never had. But the work I did was for my posture and to make sure my body is at a certain level… and that I can fake it at a serviceable level. I have so much respect for dancers! The training is insane!
Understanding the mental and physical discipline that goes into being a dancer is what goes into layering the character. For anyone who trains at a discipline, it really gets into your mind in a great way. In my personal life, I’m much less intense. It’s mostly yoga, Pilates, hiking and circuits.
The Red Sparrow character is absolutely fascinating. I loved the Bourne movies, the Bond movies, the Mission Impossible movies, but I never pictured myself in those sorts of roles. But this is a very unique look into the world of espionage. The perspective is new and the lens is fresh and timeless.
The diet on Red Sparrow might have been my biggest battle day-to-day yet. This was the first time I’ve been unbelievably strict with it. I would probably never go that strict in my own life, but this role required it. The diet was chicken breasts, berries, Greek yogurt and vegetables – clean and disciplined. I’m quite anti-dieting for roles, but for this part, when I’m playing an ex-ballerina and athlete, it’s a given, really.
Day-to-day, I like my food, but I try to be balanced. That said, though, I like to eat well. It’s making sure I’m being balanced, and eating foods that make me feel good and energized.
But at the same time, I love burgers and pizzas, I don’t believe we should punish ourselves and life is too short not to indulge. I’m a big believer in balance.