“It’s been a long day and I’m an emotional girl.”
Those were the words of Paula Patton, who while doing a Q&A about her new fantasy/action film Warcraft in NYC on Wednesday evening, went through a whole host of emotions when speaking about her role in the movie. She plays Garona, a biracial assassin attempting to make peace between humans and “orcs” who are at war in an attempt to control the civilization Azeroth. Garona starts out as a slave in the movie, but transcends to heights the viewer (at least, the viewer unfamiliar with the popular video game) never could have expected. And just as Garona goes through major changes in Warcraft, Patton went through a transformation of sorts herself, both in her preparation for the role, and in her personal life. And when you hear about the emotional journey it was for Patton to make this movie, and see the sincerity in her eyes (at one moment, a sparkle, the next, a tear) when she talks about it, you understand why she’s such an “emotional girl.” As she puts it, “This is a special role for me at a special time in my life.”
When asked what drew her to play Garona, Patton said it was the challenge of it all. After meeting with director Duncan Jones about the project, she was happy to be offered such a high-profile role and to get to work. But it took very little time soon after that meeting for Patton to immediately regret signing on for the movie.
“It was a really funny thing to be honest with you,” she said during the Q&A. “I read the script and loved the role and then met with Duncan Jones, our director. In the room, which rarely happens, he was like, ‘I want to do this with you.’ I was like, ‘I want to do this with you! This sounds amazing!’ Then I walked away like, ‘Yeah, I got a job! This is awesome!’ But then I got in the car and I was like, Oh my God, what have I done? I was so scared of taking on a half-orc, half-human, green character people knew. I never played a character that people knew before that was beloved. So it was scary. But the thing is, playing this role, it changed my life. All the challenges, the physical and mental stuff, it changed me. It was something that scared me, and I think that the things that scare you are the things that you’re meant to do.”
As Patton mentioned, she had to go through physical changes to play the ferocious Garona. Not only did she have to learn how to yield a sword and take on the task of doing most of her own stunts, but the beauty, known for her bubbly personality and good looks, had to get jacked.
“Duncan, wanted me to get yoked,” Patton said with a giggle. “I had to go the gym, a lot. Two and a half hours a day, six days a week. All kinds of protein. Protein shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have to go through a moment where you look like a man [laughs].”
While it was a difficult process, Patton said she eventually learned about the beauty of overcoming challenges like her character was able to do, including the challenge of standing in her own way at times, as Patton admitted that she was intimidated by the role. “I was scared until the very second I walked on the stage.”
“Learning how to do the swords and the knives and boxing and riding a horse, I had never ridden a horse before. But feeling the strength of overcoming each challenge helped me feel like a warrior, which Garona is.”
As previously mentioned, aside from going through physical changes, Patton dealt with emotional challenges as her marriage to Robin Thicke fell apart in the public eye as soon as she signed on for Warcraft. It was during the height of Thicke’s career and at an uncertain moment in hers. It took a girlfriend to motivate her to go through working on the film when she felt like she couldn’t.
“I was driving in the car with a friend and I remember we were doing all these makeup tests for this role and I was scared to death,” Patton said, wiping away tears. “I looked crazy. And I was in this bathroom like ‘Oh my God, I don’t know. I don’t know.’ And she was like, ‘Girl, either you go in or not. Either go 100 or don’t!’ I’ll never forget the way she encouraged me to do this role, because it scared me. I was doing two-a-day workouts at one point. I was hungry. I was going through emotional stuff in my personal life and now I’m a creature? What does that mean? Where has my career gone? I was so confused. And then when I embraced it, it was like giving yourself over to something. Having faith and taking it one day at a time, it started to change and strengthen me.”
She continued, “During this movie I got separated from my husband, and we’re divorced now, but it’s all good. That’s life. It happens. But certainly, I can’t look back at this film without thinking that it was a time that changed my life, because it certainly did. Since then, so much has happened. But Warcraft will always be that thing, that moment that the turning point happened.”
Patton, perhaps the biggest star in the film, actually gives a pretty great performance in a film with a very complicated plot, fully embodying the struggles and complexities of Garona. But the movie as a whole is very entertaining, and worth giving a chance. You can see the results of months of hard emotional and physical work done by Patton as Warcraft opens in theaters today.
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