"Hunted" star Melissa George doesn't fake fights very well.
"Next season they're going to teach me how to pretend," the actress told me during a phone interview from her Paris home. "But this season I was like, 'OK, OK, OK, I'm going to really show these massive guys. But I felt like I had to go all out because I was so worried it wouldn't look real...
"My fight trainer would take me aside and hold both my arms down and say, 'Pull back. You don't really have to hit them!'"
George, who plays spy Sam Hunter in the Cinemax series, trained for the role by studying martial arts, hand-to-hand combat and the Keysi fighting method, a technique that uses natural instincts for self-defense. Apparently she was a good student. During filming for the eight-episode season currently airing at 9 p.m. CT Fridays, she busted open a stunt man's lip and gave Neil Finninghan, who plays the homicidal Military Man, a black eye.
"She gave as good as she got," said Frank Spotnitz, the show's creator. "I don't think any of the stunt men hurt her, but she injured herself doing a lot of the things and she did injure more than one stunt man."
As George says in the video above, she got to a point where she couldn't make a fist with one of her hands. George was flattered when one of the stunt men, who had worked as a mercenary in the past, told her he loved that she was fighting so hard. It didn't make her body feel any better, though.
"I'm like, 'I know but I hurt myself! Forget about you. You can take it,'" she said. "No matter how equipped I was or how ready I was, you're never ready to be attacked in an alley way or suffer physical violence. I don't think anyone is ready for that."
It was also difficult to fake the fights, she said, because she felt the adrenaline rush as if she really was being attacked. Many of her biggest fight scenes took several hours to film even though they last just minutes, or even seconds, in the episodes. By the end of filming, her body was tense from the adrenaline, she said, and she was ready to sleep for two days.
"You're trying to fight for your life," she said of her character in the scenes, adding that she, the actress, experienced the same rush. "The adrenalin couldn't be faked anyway. I wanted just open up the top of my head and let it out. It's that feeling where your head just wants to explode."
One of her favorite days of the shoot involved filming another fight over eight hours. In the third episode, "Hourglass," Sam enters a maze and takes out two henchmen. It was the scene in which George elbowed a stunt man and split his lip open. ("I felt really bad," she said.)
The scene was shot outside of London at a mansion used in the film "Orlando."
"That iconic scene when she's running through the maze in that couture gown? I was running in the same maze as a spy with a gun," she said. "We basically all crammed in there as a crew and pretty much came out eight hours later. I was in the maze for eight hours, can you imagine?
"And I loved it because I was rolling on the ground and I was firing a weapon and I suffered a busted eardrum because an earplug fell out as I was firing."
Despite the injuries, George said, she's eager to film a second season of the series and to do battle once again.
"Oh my God I love it," she said. "If I could just fake it a little better, which I didn't so well, I would do much better with the fighting. It wouldn't hurt so much."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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