Director Catherine Hardwicke teamed up with ‘Jane the Virgin’ star Gina Rodriguez for the all-new movie ‘Miss Bala.’ HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Catherine about Gina as an action star, filming in Mexico, and more.
Miss Bala hits theaters on Feb. 1 with Gina Rodriguez in the leading role. Leading the way behind the scenes is director Catherine Hardwicke, who has also directed some of your favorite films like Twilight, Thirteen, and Lords of Dogtown. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Catherine about why Gina was perfect for the role of Gloria, a young woman who must work with a dangerous drug cartel leader to save her kidnapped friend in Mexico. “The cool thing about Gina is that she’s very likable,” Catherine told HollywoodLife. “You instantly relate to her, but she’s also got this really strong inner strength. She’s tough. She’s compassionate, but she’s strong. And I think that’s what you want to feel. This is a girl that I can relate to. I’d love to be best friends with her. She’s so fun and cute, but she’s got this strength. Like in a pinch, I’d want to be in the trenches with Gina.”
As we’ve seen with Gina’s amazing performance on Jane the Virgin, she is incredibly expressive with her eyes. In the film, there are moments when very few words are spoken, but the emotion is palpable because of the look in Gina’s eyes. Catherine revealed that one of her goals while filming was to “find a great way to photograph her [Gina] cinematically where you felt like you were close enough to her face, in so many shots, and that you really felt her emotions. Yet you were wide enough, too, so that you felt the surroundings and what she’s up against.” She also said that Gina did “very rigorous training” for Miss Bala. “Her fiancé Joe [Locicero] is a trainer and a fighter, so she got in great shape for this.”
The entire film was shot in Mexico and doing so was incredibly important to Catherine. “I grew up on the Mexican border of Texas in a border town called McAllen, Texas. I’m very familiar with border towns, and I actually love border towns. I love the two mix of the cultures, the ancient, artistic culture. I’ve always loved Mexico. I travel there all the time. I went to art school in the summer in Mexico. I love that culture, and I love the idea of showing it in a rich way. I had been to Baja a few times, but I never had really explored the area around Tijuana. But about a few months before we got the green light on the movie, I went down there. We took all these pictures, and I started getting super excited about it. So when Gina signed on, I said to the Sony people, ‘I do not want to shoot this in Albuquerque and make it look like Mexico. I want to shoot it in Mexico.’ And that made a big difference. We didn’t shoot anything in the U.S. We shot it all in Mexico, and then we also had a full Mexican crew.” The movie, based on the 2011 film of the same name, also stars Anthony Mackie, Matt Lauria, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Aislinn Derbez.