Ali Larter on ‘The Last Victim’
Exposing the inner warrior
May 09, 2022
It’s been more than 20 years since Ali Larter landed a breakout role in 1999 Varsity Blues. Since then, she has produced an impressive and wide-ranging body of work on both television and film, from comedies such as Legally Blonde to thrillers like resident Evil either Obsessed to horror movies like Final destination. And that doesn’t include her starring role on hit shows like Heroes either The noob.
For his latest cinematic twist, Larter delves into some “savage ferocity” in the last victim (opening May 13) to play Susan, an anthropologist unfairly embroiled in a battle between a gang of Southwestern outlaws (led by Ralph Ineson) and the sheriff hunting them (Ron Perlman). The neo-Western thriller is a story of survival and isolation, and Larter says she’s grateful for such roles that allow her to channel different sides.
We recently sat down with Larter to hear more about his latest film and talk about the rarity of longevity in Hollywood, especially in an era of streaming with so many changes.
Under the Radar (Matt Conner): You have such longevity in this industry that it’s so rare, so I’d love to start here as a portal to the last victim. But first, how much do you reflect on your weird position?
Ali Larter: It’s interesting, because you’re inundated with opportunities in your twenties. I had the opportunity to do all kinds of different genres and had an amazing time working with great filmmakers. I was in so many movies that resonated deeply with people, so that started my career. Then I got to my thirties, where there were some movies and more TV series work and that way I reached a completely different audience.
I’m at this point now where when I get a play, a woman who’s still doing her own stunts, who has that wild ferocity, which is often a role that could have been written for a man that I get to step into a construction site. , that allows that inner warrior to be exposed, it’s very exciting for me. There are not as many opportunities as before. There used to be a lot more movies and a lot more shows. As business winds down, there is an appreciation that I get to work on projects that excite me.
It’s also made me really put on my producer hat and find the stories I want to tell. It’s like, ‘I’m going to make these things happen.’ I sold a book that I had to FOX and I just got the intellectual property on another book which is such an extraordinary achievement about the mother of a Navy Seal so I’m growing with my characters and I’m excited to continue. to tell stories about really strong women going into battle, literally or not.
Was that the biggest draw for you here?
It’s something I love to do and it’s a deep part of myself. Much of me is a loving mother who loves being with her 7 and 11 year olds. I love snuggling up to them at night reading. So that’s a part of me, but there’s also a fire that I love to express. Finding that trigger within the character is always what I look for.
Are you ever surprised by what comes out in the moment, then, if you are allowed to channel this inner fire, so to speak?
Not that I’m surprised, because at this point, I’m really an experienced actor. When you’re with professionals on set, you know what to do. So for me, it’s about having the preparation done before I arrive and knowing that when I go into those very intense scenes, I know how to create an environment where I feel safe and I know that I can do them over and over again until we get the threw. I have different tools that I use, whether it’s writing a monologue or listening to a song or sometimes just living in the present moment and feeling what’s going on in the world around me and letting that play out.
So what did preparation look like? the last victim?
In those moments when [Susan] she felt like she wasn’t going to make it and cried out for help, for me it always goes back to those moments as a mother. For me to get there emotionally about what I would be leaving behind and also find it within myself to survive. Any mother would do anything to survive and get back to her children, so she was a real driving force for me, although that was not a linear path with Susan. She took me there so I could get into her world and express it.
How did you become attached to the movie in the first place?
They offered me the movie and then I had some calls with Naveen. He has so much passion for cinema. He is like a kid in a candy store. He is passionate about writing, costumes, rehearsals, set design, hair and makeup. This was all a dream project for him, and I connected with that and wanted to help him fulfill his vision.
That gets into another thing I wanted to ask. You’ve got some wonderfully realized actors here and so many who are new. Was there an enriching atmosphere there when you had that mix?
I think that’s what made Naveen so good, that he hired professionals. When you look at Ralph and Ron’s body of work and mine and bring us on set, you have an idea of what you’re going to get. With Ralph, I love working with him, because when you take a scene where you can cut things, he’s a master storyteller himself. So it was great to be able to do that together.
If there is a line that can be cut, please cut my line. I prefer to show things on an emotional level through action, especially in a movie like this where I don’t have to move the story through dialogue. So that was part of it and I think there was a lot of respect for everyone for that.
You mentioned doing your own stunts. Is that fun or does it sound more fun than it really is?
I love it. That’s also something that people know about me, going back to resident Evil either Heroes either Obsessed. I love to do everything I can. I love working with wire. One of my favorite scenes is the one with the Ax Man in resident Evil where it’s pouring rain and I get on a skateboard and do a backflip on wires. I love those things! For me it’s just another way of telling the story and being able to physicalize it is a beautiful dance.
You mentioned how much the industry has changed since you started, so how does that affect your expectations or hopes for a movie like this?
I’m so excited for it to get a wide release. A lot of it is straight into the stream now, so that’s awesome. I’m old enough now that I’ve seen the business change. Even just promoting it, it used to be on Fallon and Conan and that’s the way you did it and now that’s not so much of the world anymore. Now you’re doing Zooms from home and showing up that way. I think it’s interesting to see how it evolves and, with streaming, how much more there is for people to watch. You can focus on the things that interest you and that has allowed more to be done, but I think it has made it more difficult for something special to find its audience.
So it’s an interesting time in our business. However, I believe in the power of storytelling. I think you should be able to go to the movies and see something on a big screen. That will never be the same as watching it at home, because you can get up and pop some popcorn or eat a burrito. [Laughs] I love being in a theater, but for someone who consumes a lot of television, I love watching 10 hours of television in one season of something. I love delving into the characters. So I think there is room for all of that. I just hope that we can continue to make movies and shows that are exciting, fun, and relevant.
You said you wanted to help Naveen realize her vision. Have you had a moment with him now that there is a finished product to reflect on it?
Not yet, and I think it has to be in person. We’ve talked a lot on the phone, but I want to give him a hug and tell him how proud I am of him. With this world and COVID, it’s sad that people haven’t been able to have that connection. I want to complete the circle with this physically. I hope to see you at one of these functions and give you a big hug.