Heroes fans already know how convincingly Ali Larter can wield a gun, her fists, and the cool gaze of a lethal femme fatale; in this week’s Resident Evil: Extinction, she holds her own against returning series star Milla Jovovich as Claire Redfield, the leader of a band of survivors evading deadly zombies and killer birds in the Nevada desert. (Read our set visit and interview with Jovovich!)
RT caught up with Larter on the Extinction set, where the sharp actress talked about joining the cast of the third and final Resident Evil film as a newcomer, shooting the infamous zombie crow scene, and how her character segued from its video game origins to the big screen. Oh, and she dropped more than a few spoilerific tidbits about the fate of the survivors, including the demise of a certain key character!
Fans of the Resident Evil video game series may be more familiar with Larter’s character, Claire Redfield, than they are with the film series protagonist, Alice — in fact, Milla Jovovich’s character never appeared in any of the games, while Claire leads both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Adding her to the mix of Extinction was an important nod to the source material, and Larter was enthusiastic to go from blonde to Claire’s trademark red hair for the job.
“When I decided to join this project, I had spoken to [writer] Paul [W.S. Anderson] and [producer] Jeremy [Bolt] and it was very important to them that they were going to be bringing in a character that was part of the video games,” she explained. “For people who are truly passionate about the games, it’s important to have the resemblance to Claire Redfield; people have an idea of what they want her to be, and red hair is just one more thing to help them bridge that gap and let them take the journey with me in the movie.”
In Extinction, years have passed since the end of Resident Evil: Apocalypse and the zombie outbreak has devastated much of the world. Claire leads a caravan of survivors, including Apocalypse holdovers Carlos (Oded Fehr) and L.J. (Mike Epps). When Alice drops in with new powers thanks to scientists at the Umbrella Corporation, there will be some friction between the two tough lady leaders. Larter shared her character’s thoughts as Extinction unfolds.
“Alice has just arrived, and saved us from this attack,” she said. “We’ve just had a little conversation together about her entering into our convoy, and really the discussion is there’s been a journal entry saying there is an area in Alaska that’s safe, where the infection hasn’t reached yet. At this point it’s all about survival, so if you can come in and you can help us please do. The other side of it is, you know, I’ve been taking care of these people and it’s all about keeping them safe and alive.
“At first it takes a minute to earn each other’s trust; someone just doesn’t enter in and you welcome them with open arms. When you’re in these grave circumstances there’s no time for the bulls**t, no time for getting jealous. How can you help each other? Are you gonna put us in danger? If you are then you need to leave the convoy. If you can help us, stay. You know, you’re not about making someone feel good. It’s about, what can we do to get through this day?”
While Alice and Co. only had to worry about shepherding young Angela Ashford through Raccoon City in Apocalypse, Claire has the responsibility of protecting many survivors who aren’t as well equipped to fight off attackers themselves.
“At this point [I] have become a leader of this convoy and it is my job to keep these people safe,” Larter said. “I’m not worried about the characters that are strong, I’m worried about the pregnant mothers and the children that are there, and if they would be able to make that kind of journey. So it’s kind of the discussion about that, and that I’ve been doing my best to keep these people alive, and what’s really the best move for us at this point.”
Naturally, then, Claire has to know her way around a firearm; but how much zombie-killing action does she get to partake in?
“Not as much as Alice!” she lamented with a smile. “Alice gets to kick ass in this. Milla’s so amazing, she cuts this amazing figure. But I have my berretta, knives, and you know my role isn’t as much the action and the fighting of it — more of like a general rather than in combat, but I do have a couple run ins with the undead…and I shoot the s**t out of them!”
Larter also chimed in on the extended crow sequence, which was originally planned to be much shorter (watch the clip here). In the scene, Claire’s caravan is attacked by a swarm of infected, undead crows — “Mad Max meets The Birds!” — shown in part through the eyes of the killer creatures.
“They have a helicopter that’s about half the size of this table,” Larter shared. “We’d be doing these scenes with this helicopter zooming in and around us, that really brings this energy and it’s going to be the point of view of the crows — and it’s so cool! It just brings one more dynamic and one more element to this movie. I feel like they’ve pulled out all the stops, they’re really getting all the best people to create this world, and to really keep you on the edge of your seat.”
Now, for those spoilers. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you!) Want to know how many of the caravan survives, how they might escape, and which character may not make it? Click the text to read.
Asked point blank if her character survives (a legit question, considering the film and the whole series already has its strong female lead in Alice), Larter shared the following:
“We get through Vegas and we end up getting to a helicopter and taking off with the kids, and what’s amazing about the end of this movie is we have lost so many people, and that’s what keeps this movie on such a heightened level. You see this kind of family that we’ve created and you keep losing people every day. It keeps it very emotional and intense! But this movie and the way that Paul has decided to end is that it’s me, and K-Mart (Spencer Locke), and a couple of other of the convoy and their kids. I think it’s that universal feeling in mankind that is hope; children represent hope.”
After surviving a zombie bite in Apocalypse, perhaps Carlos has run out of luck. Does he sacrifice himself to the zombies for the good of the group?
Larter spilled the answer: “Yes, he has. Poor guy!”
Find out more tomorrow when Resident Evil: Extinction hits theaters!