Marisa Miller was once hailed as the "return of the great American supermodel" by Maxim magazine, but it doesn't stop there. This former Victoria's Secret Angel is nowhere near finished showing us all that she's capable of. Miller's new film, R.I.P.D., just hit theaters today, and it's her first major acting gig since...well, ever. And hey, co-starring with Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker, and Kevin Bacon—not a bad way to start.
Interview by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)
Was acting something you always wanted to transition into?
I think it depended on the project and what I was doing, because there is such a wide-range of what you can do acting-wise. And with this film, since there was such a large humor aspect and a physical aspect, too, I was excited by it. There were a lot of stunts involved, and it came pretty naturally to me so it was really, really fun. I never expected or imagined I would be a part of such an amazing cast and a big movie for my first film.
What was the experience like overall?
Going into it I was a little intimidated. [Laughs.] Any time you do something for the first time, you don’t know what to expect, Especially having such an amazing cast, [the environment] could have been really, really intimidating. Fortunately, everybody was super down-to-earth and funny and the set had a very relaxed atmosphere on set, so I was really lucky in that way.
Did you hang out with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, and did they give you any acting advice?
The whole experience to me was a huge acting lesson because my role is to play Jeff Bridges' avatar in the movie. A lot of the scenes that he would do I would have to watch. I'd watch his mannerisms and his body positions so I could mimic him. It's hard when you’re a woman trying to be a man. [Laughs.]
Did you find that awkward at all?
I really got the humor in the movie and what they were trying to do, so I understood what they wanted out of me. For myself, I had to go for it 110% because I knew if you held back or felt silly or thought about it too much, it would just come off not funny. But everyone around you is doing the same thing, so it was pretty easy.
So what was the number one thing to remember playing a dude?
Confidence, just full on confidence, because when I got the role somebody told me it takes a really strong woman to play a man. [Laughs.] You really have to own it and just be really strong and not second guess what you're doing.
How did you land the role?
I had been asked to read for a few movies at that point, but when I read this script, I thought the writing was really good. It was funny and it was just really natural for me. I watched True Grit and The Big Lebowski for, like, three days. I really immersed myself in Jeff’s essence and who he was and how he talked and all that. When it came time to act as him, it actually felt really organic.
What would you say was the most challenging aspect of being a model and then transitioning into acting?
In certain ways it prepared me, just in the sense of not being nervous in front of a camera. Because I was used to that, I could focus on other things. But it's completely different because when you are modeling, you are aware of the camera, and when you are acting, you have to completely tune it out.
What was it like filming the scene of you getting hit by a bus?
One of my best memories was doing that stunt! I’m pretty athletic and I grew up playing sports, so it was familiar to me. Not being hit by a bus, but being coordinated and taking direction in the way. [Laughs.] Originally, most of the stuff was going to be done by my stunt double, but once I did the bus scene, they saw I could handle it and let me do a few more things.
It was super intense and my body was really sore the next day, but my wardrobe is the thing that made it really challenging. I had a huge hoop earring on and the hardest part was making sure it landed right so it didn’t rip out my ear. Also, I had a little dress on and a push-up bra, and they're not the most comfortable things ever to do stunts in.
Is acting something you want to pursue more of?
Yeah! I had such a great experience working on this film and it was a hell of a way to start, so I would love to see what else is out there.
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?
Well, I just had a baby. I shot the movie and had a baby. The press for this movie is kind of the first thing I’m doing since that, but I’m excited to get back into it!
And you're involved with a lot of charities.
Yeah! I work a lot with the Young Survivor Coalition, which helps women who get breast cancer under 40. When I learned about this organization, I was completely unaware that women could get breast cancer that young. I always thought it was something that you had to worry about after you were 50 years old. A lot of times, the cancer is more aggressive when you do get it younger, and I think the awareness isn't even out there for young girls.
Early detection is the most important part of surviving. I’m just trying to get young girls aware about the issue and teach them about the importance of doing self-exams and finding out what your family medical history is. The organization is really dear to my heart.