Mary Elizabeth Winstead may not be a household name – although you may remember her as the annoying cheerleader in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, or more likely as the daughter of the legendary John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard – but she’s going to have quite a cult following once Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World gets the cult following it deserves and is no doubt destined for. Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s indie-comic graphic novel series, it features Winstead as Ramona Flowers, the enigmatic object of affection for Mr. Pilgrim, for whom he quests to defeat her Seven Evil Exes.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Shaun of the Dead,” Winstead says about her worship of Wright and how she got involved in the project. “And I’ve watched every DVD commentary, and Hot Fuzz, all the special features, and Spaced. I was a huge, huge fan of his. At first I had a general meeting with him, and I didn’t know what it was about. It was just sort of set up through my agent. That was kind of enough for me, I was like, ‘Oh my god, my agent somehow got me a meeting with Edgar Wright! How did he do that?! That’s so cool!’ Then he was talking about being interested in me for a movie, and it was just kind of mind blowing to me. I think he’s brilliant and I think he’s going to get even better. I don’t know how that’s even possible, but he’ll do it.”
That's not to say she was sold on herself as the perfect choice for the role. "Everyone was telling me, 'You're a perfect Ramona. You look just like Ramona,' and I was like, 'What are you talking about? What do you mean?'" she said. "Then when we all got together and had the complete looks, it all sort of clicked. The day that we all put the clothes on and got the wig on and the makeup, suddenly I was like, 'Okay, I get what Edgar saw.'"
So how did this adaptation turn out? "I feel like they really kept all the elements of Ramona that were important for the film," she answers. "There were certainly a lot of details that were left out, but you're condensing six books into a two-hour film, and that kind of goes without saying. But I didn't feel like there was that much that was lost when it comes to the whole story when it comes to everyone and the arc that everyone has to go through and the journeys that everyone has to fulfill throughout the film. It's hard to nitpick anything when you see a film and you feel like it's perfect, so I certainly don't regret anything about what they did with my character."
“It was so much beyond anything I had ever done,” she notes about the big elaborate fight scenes. In one of them, she gets to wield a giant battle hammer – that’s something you don’t see very often. “I had never had to do any training for any of the other films that I’d done or anything like that. This was a whole new world of stunt training and wire work and kung fu. I think I was more familiar than a lot of people with big sets and big set pieces, so a lot of things didn’t seem as crazy to me as it did to some of the other actors. I was just sort of like, ‘This is a day at work. This is how films are made,’ coming off Die Hard, which was a big, crazy action movie as well. But as far as my involvement in it, the ante was upped 100%, so it was definitely a new experience for me.”
Speaking of Die Hard, the fourth movie introduced her as the adult Lucy McClane, who had every bit of the badass mettle that made Bruce Willis’ John McClane a household name, and that brings to mind an inevitable question. There’s been talk of a Die Hard 5, true, but we have to face the deeply saddening fact that Bruce probably can’t keep up McClane-level action forever. Would Winstead be willing to step up and take over the franchise when Bruno’s ready to pass the torch?
"Of course! That would be awesome," Winstead says with a big smile. "I love the idea of being an action heroine. I think there needs to be more female action heroines out there that are intelligent and not overly masculine, and real, too. Not necessarily the sort of super hero, perfect archetype of what an action hero is represented as. I would love to find that kind of action heroine to play."
And what about that Die Hard 5 talk? “There’s been rumors, but I’ve only just read them on the internet with everyone else, so I don’t know any more than you.”
"I'm really excited for people to see it," Winstead said. "I think the fans of the John Carpenter version are going to be pleasantly surprised. We really worked really hard on making as great a movie as we could possibly make on every level - the special effects and animatronics and the puppeteering work are really great. Everyone in general is fantastic, and we have an interesting, diverse cast. Most of the actors are from Norway, and they're so good. They're trained, amazing actors who normally wouldn't get the chance to star in a big Hollywood productions. So it really was a special experience to work with them and to get to play the type of role I was talking about earlier - an action heroine who's a real woman who happens to be really smart and happens to be able to take care of herself. It was a really cool experience."
So what's the deal with that? Winstead says it's not really a remake. "It's a true prequel," she insisted. "It takes place on the Norwegian base where the John Carpenter version - the characters in that - find The Thing and bring it back to their base. So it's the story of what happened there, so it's a completely different set of characters but in that same universe. The end kind of matches up perfect with the John Carpenter version so you can watch them back to back, and it'll be cool."