Whether it was working for WWE or teaching women empowerment at the Gracie Academy, needless to say Eve Torres is no stranger to physicality.
Her athletic background would come in handy squaring off with Jackie Chan in the movie Skiptrace, in select theaters and On Demand Sept. 2. The film is already a hit in China, opening at number one with a $60 million opening earlier in the summer. Torres shot her scenes in Beijing and Hong Kong. She found working with the iconic figure unreal.
“It was a dream come true for me,” Torres said.
“I was a huge Jackie Chan fan growing up. I got there on set and was so nervous. I was stressing out about it because I hadn’t learned any fight choreography. I thought I would learn it a day in advance or maybe even a few hours in advance. That’s not how they do it there. The whole time I’m thinking, ‘Okay, someone can now tell me what we are doing.’
“But because with Jackie and the others are so professional and have been doing it for so long, a lot of times they will use the props around them. So it’s easier for them to choreograph it on the spot. They come up with it on the spot, then they teach it to you and then you are shooting. It was a matter of minutes. That was crazy for me, but also you realize these are the best people in the game at this. It was just a great crew to work with. They have the most creative stunt team on the planet.”
In the action comedy, she portrays a Russian badass who can be seen rolling a bowling ball down an alley with co-star Johnny Knoxville’s head as the intended target. Audiences may be surprised to hear Torres sport a Russian accent in the movie.
“You have people who are dialect coaches there, but they are speaking Chinese,” Torres said.
“They are helping Jackie Chan with his English, so they were also trained to help me help me. It was a really a fun role to play. Accents are just fun because it helps you get into character that much more.”
The former champion in WWE found her past in the ring helped her in more ways than one.
“Timing is a big part of stunt work and fighting scenes,” Torres said.
“It’s something you learn in WWE, especially when they are really character-driven fights. It’s not just, ‘I’m going to fight this person.’ It’s thinking about how or why a certain character will fight another character in WWE. I feel I pulled from that and made me feel more comfortable in these scenes. I think it all shows on camera.”
The life of a pro wrestler means being a jack of all trades. This can lead to acquiring a unique skill to be successful within the entertainment industry (cough The Rock). Though for Torres a movie set and a squared circle are unique in their own way.
“There is a big difference between performing in WWE before thousands of people in an arena and acting in a scene with a camera close-up on your face. Having to make those adjustments, through acting classes and the roles I’ve had, I really enjoy the challenge of it. It’s a lot of fun.”
One of the most high profile parts Torres secured was playing opposite Melissa Benoist in an episode of “Supergirl.” She portrayed the villainous Maxima in a relatively short fight scene, but one that got fans excited.
“I think there is a lot of cross-over with wrestling fans and the comic world,” Torres said.
“It’s all coming together, so it’s fun for me and the viewers to see that. The hope is that this will be a recurring role, but we will see what happens. That is the great thing about the super hero world is anything can happen. And you always need a good villain. So hopefully you haven’t seen the last of me on ‘Supergirl.’
Torres’ is finding work in Hollywood at a time when she believes women are becoming more prevalent and believable action stars.
“Angelina Jolie for example is a brilliant actress and a beautiful woman,” Torres explains.
“She plays these parts great, but there is a part of you like, ‘Can she pull this off?’ So there is kind of a disconnect in that sense. I think what’s cool now is they are starting to use more women who actually can pull this off. Ronda Rousey is getting in movies and taking on these lead roles. It’s a great example for me to think that they do want these kinds of women who can really pull this stuff off. You can have these gritty fights that aren’t all flashy and camera tricks, but real fights. I think they are using a lot more of that in film.”
The ascent of women is also prevalent these days in pro wrestling. The term “diva” is no more where female competitors are known as superstars just like their male counterparts. It’s a moment Torres is proud to witness.
“It’s really exciting for me to watch, but at the same time it’s also hard because when I was a part of it, the movement hadn’t really started,” Torres said.
“It was always there. You saw the women trying to fight and fight. Unfortunately, it didn’t get as far as I would have liked when I was there. There was a lot of frustration with that. It was a part of why I decided to move on from WWE. So it is actually a beautiful thing to watch this finally happening because as we’ve seen with Ronda women who can be a draw in a male-dominated, aggressive sport.
“Women can be a huge draw. We can be just as talented, even more so than the men as well. They can have great matches and be something that both men and women want to see. They don’t have to be this novelty. So to see this happening and watching the women get recognized while putting on these awesome matches is really exciting as a fan of wrestling and a fan of women’s wrestling.”
Even though the 31-year-old enjoyed her run in WWE don’t expect a return any time soon.
“I sit back and am really happy for the girls in there now,” Torres said.
“I know how much it means to them because I know how much it would have meant to me at the time. But now that ship has sailed and I have a 10-month-old at home. I would have to give up a lot if I went back on the road to have that full-time gig again. So I’m engrained in my new life and new projects. I’m happy.”
She will be watching fellow WWE alum in CM Punk has also seemingly moved on and is preparing for his UFC debut. The popular Chicagoan enters the octagon in a debut fight on Sept. 10 at UFC 203 on pay-per-view.
“For Punk, I just really commend him because it’s one thing to say you want to fight, but another to actually do it,” Torres said.
“It takes so much. I know this because my husband trains top-level professional fighters every week. I see the sacrifices they make and how hard the training is. It’s like nothing else in the world. So to actually go through with it is a really challenging feat in itself.
“Just for that I tip my hat off to anyone who puts their body on the line like that to fight in front of the whole world. So for that, he has all the respect in the world. I’m really excited to see the fight and how that training paid off and how this is going to turn out. I wish him the best. I think we will see how the training translates. I think it’s going to be awesome.”
Torres and her husband Rener Gracie welcomed their first child, Raeven last September. It’s been a unique juggling act for the mom and dedicated businesswomen ever since.
“You have this person who comes in your life and changes everything,” Torres said.
“All your priorities are shaken upside down. That’s really what motherhood is. Here comes this child that is more important that really anything in your life. Making those adjustments to everything else that is important to you is a hard thing to do in the beginning. But you do reach a balance.
“For me, it’s important for me to reach a balance because I can’t be a good mother to my son if I’m miserable or not happy or not being fulfilled. So it’s important for me to feel fulfilled in my career and giving back to the community and the world and our business and to be able to spend as much time with him as I can. I think I have started to find that balance.”
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