Let’s answer one question right away: Yes, Rihanna can rock naval fatigues and still look sexy enough to make your head explode.
We’re sitting on the U.S.S. Missouri, docked in the middle of Pearl Harbor, just when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, in walks Brooklyn Decker and then, a bit later on, Rihanna. Let’s discuss the pop star first and specifically the outfit she is wearing as she rolls up to the press table.
This is not the Rihanna we are used to seeing: The provocative spreads in Maxim or the sexy stuff she wears while performing on stage. No, she’s in navy fatigues, covered head-to-toe, complete with a baseball cap. This is Rihanna’s first movie role and what has she chosen? A military badass.
“She doesn’t like boys. She doesn’t like girls either,” Rihanna explains. “She’s just about her weapons and her work.”
And how does the uniform fit?
“It’s really cool, it’s easy,” she says. “You don’t have to think about what you want to put on, or how cute you look.”
In the film, Rihanna isn’t a superstar; she’s simply another grunt midshipman who is suddenly thrown into a full-blown battle with aliens. If that sounds like a surprising movie debut, nobody is more surprised than the star who admitted that when she went in to discuss the movie, she had no idea she was wanted for the role.
“It’s weird how it happened,” she recalls. “I walked into a meeting, I know I had a meeting, but usually my manager would be there to prep me and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re doing, this is who we’re meeting, and this is why we’re doing this meeting.’ She wasn’t there and I walked in. And Peter Berg just walked out and said, ‘Hi, come in’… and all I saw were these little alien mock-ups, these little dolls. And he just started saying, ‘Yeah, these are the thugs, he’s a thug.’ ‘Uhh, okay,’ I laughed and then I realized that he wasn’t laughing, and I was like, ‘This is weird. Why are there pictures of aliens all over this room?’ And it was just crazy because he was just really super enthusiastic about it, and he was so sure that I could pull it off and I didn’t even know that he was the director of the film! I didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going, why. And after I read the script I was really, really impressed and I wanted to be a part of it. Plus it was a role I felt like I could handle for the first time I’m acting.”
To get prepared for the role, Rihanna, and the rest of the actors, basically went through basic training with military personal (the Navy has completely embraced “Battleship” and has helped from the beginning). It wasn’t easy.
“This one man, his name is Donald, he pretty much drilled me, yelled at me, cursed me, made me do pushups,” she says. “My best friend was there the second time we worked together, and I said to her, ‘Okay, I’m about to do acting class, but you’re going to want to kill this man, so just stay in the bedroom. Don’t listen to anything he’s saying to me right now, just don’t kill him Melissa, just stay in the bedroom.’ And I remember she just kept walking around, and she would just glance at me, ‘Are you okay? Did he just say ‘f*** you’ to her?’ But I mean it really got you in the mentality, that’s the things they really go through, you know, when they first sign up. It’s not a walk in the park.”
The other part of the experience that seems odd from an outsider’s perspective, but is actually comforting to Rihanna is the numbers game on set. She, along with Brooklyn Decker, is only one of two females in this testosterone-laden blockbuster. But from Rihanna, it’s nothing new.
“It’s really exciting because this is how I grew up,” she admits. “I grew up being the only girl in my group of friends. Most of my friends were guys until I found a female best friend. In this case, I’m one of the guys; I’m never ever acknowledged as a female, there’s no sympathy for me because I’m a female. She’s just hardcore, she’s tougher than most of the guys on the ship. So she has that respect, and she walks with that swagger too.”
For Decker, this experience is not quite as new as it is for Rihanna, but it’s pretty close. At the time of the set visit, nobody knew Decker. They may have noticed her from the pages of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, but the Adam Sandler-comedy “Just Go With It,” her first movie, hadn’t been released and therefore this whole acting thing was still new to her as well.
“I did a romantic comedy before so you can imagine the difference between the two,” she says. “This one is incredibly challenging. Physically, emotionally, I mean we’re talking about the end of the world. Obviously it’s a huge, daunting task ahead, but, I think that’s why I’m having such a blast on it; it’s such a challenge. I’m a new actor so I’m around these guys and feel so inadequate, but if you’re going to learn, learn from the best. I’m really happy to be here.”
She’s also one of the few civilians in the film. She plays the daughter of Liam Neeson, the admiral in the film, and the love interest of Taylor Kitsch. And while those guys had to go through military training for the film, Decker had her own drills.
“I did a lot of prep, because I’m a physical therapist,” she says. “I worked in military hospitals and I learned how fix prosthetic legs, dislocated shoulders, and things like that. I definitely did a lot of training with that. As far as fighting, I’m going to go through fight training which should be fun.
When asked about being one of the only two girls on board, like Rihanna, Decker is pretty excited.
“It’s funny because [Rihanna] and I are both actually really big tomboys,” she admits “It’s like her and I and all the guys. There’s no ‘we’re running off to get manicures together.’ It’s all guns and war, which is really fun. The boys are so cute and Rihanna is gorgeous, so the whole cast is… we definitely have a cute cast.”