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June 11, 2016

On Becoming Human

June 11, 2016

Paula Patton Talks ‘Warcraft,’ Becoming Garona and Life-Changing Lessons

June 11, 2016
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In a journey that has been a decade in the making, the cinematic adaptation of the immensely popular “World of Warcraft” is finally hitting the big screen. In “Warcraft” the lovely Paula Patton plays Garona, a character who finds herself caught in the battle of her life. A half-orc, half-human, Garona is fearsome as she navigates between the orc shaman Gul’dan, and the leader of the human realm of Azeroth, King Llane. Though I have not touched any sort of game console since ’97, I found myself swept away in the fantasy of the vast magical realm. Full of CGI, otherworldly creatures, dark magic and hulking orcs, this $160 million dollar film is meticulously detailed. After the screening, Paula Patton sat down with the audience to talk about becoming Garona, lessons learned and diving into “Warcaft”. Here are the highlights from that conversation.

Taking On the Role Of Garona

What wasn’t there to like about Garona? For me as an actress, the chance to begin the movie as the slave of Gul’dan and then have this transformation that Garona gets to have was an incredible thing to take on. I welcomed it. It was a really funny thing to be honest with you. I read the script and loved the role, and then I met with Duncan Jones our director and in the room, which rarely happens he says, “I want to do this with you!” and I said, “I want to do this with you, this sounds amazing.” I was so excited but then I got in my car and I thought, “Oh my God, what have I done?” I was so scared to take on this half-orc, half-human. I’d never played a character that people knew before. Garona is beloved by so many, so it was scary. However, playing this role changed my life. All of the challenges in playing Garona, the physical stuff, the mental stuff, all of it changed me. It scared me, but I think the things that scare you are the things that you are meant to do. It makes you grow. This is a really special role for me, and a really special time in my life.

Moving From Rom-Coms to “Warcraft”

I don’t pick movies by the genre; I pick them by the material. For example, “Precious” that moved my soul when I read the script, it made me cry. It made me want to play that teacher. I also like romantic comedies, I think they’re fun and I think they’re a great escape in that way. For me, I don’t have a math or science to what I choose, but it’s also what chooses me quite frankly.

On Physically Preparing For the Role

First it was just the way that Garona needed to look. They needed her to look like she was half-orc, so Duncan told me I needed to get yolked! (Laughing) I had to go to the gym A LOT. I went two and a half hours a day, six days a week. I ate all kinds of protein, protein shakes and steaks, for breakfast, lunch and dinner it was painful. It was very challenging. Then when we got to Vancouver and we really started prepping for the movie, it was about doing all of my stunts. I didn’t do everything, but I got to do most of it. I think that was the fun of doing a character like this. I also think it’s important to feel like you can actually do those things. I mean I can’t actually jump as high as Garona, but learning how to do the swords and the knives and the boxing; even riding a horse, which I had never done before, was an amazing experience. In doing that, I started feeling like, “I know who Garona is.” Just feeling the strength of overcoming each challenge made me feel like the warrior that she is. All of that helped the mental too. Unlike any movie I’ve ever done before, I was scared until the very moment I walked onto the set.

On Getting Into Character

For makeup and costume, it depended on the scene and how much skin was being shown, but it was about 4 or 5 hours sometimes. In terms of getting into the mental headspace, I wouldn’t know the time, it just sort of gradually happens, and then the longer you’re making the film it sort of just clicks in. The hardest part is that you always think back to what you shot at the beginning of filming and you go, “I would have don’t it so differently!”

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Image: Universal Pictures