Samantha Win stars as Chambers in Army of the Dead. It's the kind of surreal, wild ride of a movie you'd expect from action ace Zack Snyder, complete with epic sets and a zombie tiger.
After working with the writer and director many times, Win knew that this latest movie (released May 21 on Netflix) was going to be a must-see appearance. In an exclusive interview with M&F, Win talks about her athletic roots and how this formed the perfect basis for her career as an actress and stunt performer.
"Even if you read the movie's synopsis, you're over the moon and excited to be a part of it," says Win, originally from Barrie, ON. “There are so many crazy elements in the movie that made it super fun. We were like children in a playground. "
BJJ helped develop her "winning mindset"
Win has been a very active person all her life and was introduced to martial arts at the age of 4 thanks to her mother who was a black belt in Jiujitsu. "Instead of taking a break, we may need to hold the plank position for a few minutes, or instead of being sent to our room, it makes us stand on one foot with your knee above your waist," says Win. “So it was always this physical challenge instead of an emotional punishment. It was pretty creative and effective I would say. "
The process of training and performing martial arts was something Win took to heart, and she quickly fell in love with the discipline it required. "You get used to feeling a certain way about something," says Win. "I hear runners starting to enjoy the meditative feeling of running. So it's not just the physical act, but rather the feeling that it gives us. I think that happened to me with Jiujitsu at a young age. And now I am very much longing for this energetic exit, in which my breath goes and my heart rate rises, I sweat and I just have fun. "
Progressing with jiujitsu and bossing international wushu tournaments would require personal sacrifice, but that made the rewards all the more special. "Although I missed some social aspects, I am very happy that I kept martial arts as my focus and goal," she says. "w diet and exercise are such a big part of my life that I don't necessarily have trouble staying in shape. It's just about different levels of shape or what you want from your body, specific to each role."
Around the time she was competing in the 2008 Beijing Wushu Tournament as part of Team Canada, Win began conversations with stunt coordinators looking for athletes who could bring their skills to the set. Having already started acting classes and appearing in commercials at the time, stunt work seemed a natural fit. Zack and Win first worked together when she was 17, at Sucker Punch.
"When it comes to being on wires, you need core strength to maintain certain shapes," says Win. "Your muscle is your armor so it was fun to have this again become such an integral part of my job, and it makes it easier to stay in shape knowing it's part of your protection. You have to be part of that Stand at the top of your game to do your best job. "
Samantha Win played Kitana on the web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and after learning her craft on major Hollywood productions like Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, she is now entertained in what is arguably her greatest role to date. As Chambers, she will share a screen with stars like Dave Bautista and Omari Hardwick as they roam Las Vegas to avoid the wrath of the zombie population.
A fitness army
In preparation for the role, Win knew she had to be in good shape. "I'm just trying to listen to my body and I'll adjust my diet based on the character I'm playing," she says. “For Wonder Woman and Justice League, I really wanted to get more muscle and a little more bulk, so I really focused on my macros. While for Army of the Dead because I wear a crop top and my stomach is visible throughout the entire shoot, I had to figure out what was sustainable for me because I couldn't just massage myself and then lean for the few days before the shooting. I needed to be in a constant state, so it was more about constant exercise and eating enough calories, but the right kind. I couldn't have a lot of sugar or super salty foods or anything that could make me hold back water. I wanted to be slim without losing weight. There has been a lot of trial and error, but at the end of the day all you have to do is figure out what works best for your body. Many people view dieting as a temporary thing or a challenge that is not that lasting. "
Fortunately, there were no temptations with craft services. "I think the crews at Zack Snyder are very happy that he is very health conscious," says Win. "There was no soda, no chocolate bars, no buffets with biscuits and the like." Instead, the cast and crew are given more reasonable options like a sandwich and salad bar, as well as freshly squeezed juices.
Despite a significant role in front of the camera in the film, Win still wanted to perform her own stunts, including a gripping scene in which she jumped through a window. Thanks to her great collaboration with the stunt team, alongside Natalie Padilla, who acted as stunt double, and stunt coordinator Damon Caro, everything went smoothly. "I was really grateful that they let me do this," she says.
With her fame undoubtedly on the rise, Win is grateful for the opportunity the Army of the Dead presented her, and she makes sure to get as much out of the experience as possible. "It takes it to another level when you work with Dave Bautista and Zack Snyder and Hiroyuki Sanada and all these amazing legends," says Win. “It was a great opportunity to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. It was an uplifting experience. As Chambers, I feel like I've grown the most. "