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Actress Golshifteh Farahani Dishes On Netflix's Extraction - Exclusive Interview

Here's the thing about Nik, Golshifteh Farahani's character in Netflix's hit action movie Extraction: You'll have to wait a while before you get to see her kick some ass, but once you do, it's absolutely worth the wait. Nik might operate on the shadier side of the law, but she's a consummate professional who absolutely knows her way around a gun. You don't want to mess with her.

That's also a pretty good description of Farahani herself. The veteran actor, whose eclectic filmography includes everything from blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales to indie dramas like Jim Jarmusch's Paterson, has a real-life story that's just as interesting as anything you'll see on the screen — and, as she tells us, she's pretty handy with firearms, too.

In an exclusive interview, Farahani shared some of her experiences shooting Extraction with Looper, including what it was like working with Chris Hemsworth, some of the challenges the cast and crew faced while filming Extraction's climactic shootout, and what makes Nik tick. Thanks to Farahani's nuanced performance, there's a lot more to Nik than you can see at first glance. It's easy to see why she's become such a fan favorite. Major spoilers for Extraction follow!

How Chris Hemsworth saved the day on the set of Extraction

Your character, Nik, is fairly mysterious. Even by the end of the movie, we don't know a lot about her. In your mind, who is she and what drives her?

Well, there was a scene in the beginning of the movie that told us who she is. She's a gun dealer. There was a scene — they took it out, it wasn't fitting — where she's dealing guns and buying guns and she's obsessed with guns. It's her thing, all kind of weapons. She has I don't know how many guns around her. And the way she looks at them, it's like she's looking at her lovers. She's obsessed with guns. So she's a gun dealer in the first place.

And, of course, I think there's a very deep bond of friendship between her and Tyler. This character was written to be played by man, but they turned it into a woman and then they came to me, and I'm very thankful for that. She's not the love interest, she's equal to everyone. She's a partner and she's driving this mission. There is no emotion going on. It's a pure mission, and also loyalty and friendship.

She's a pretty cold character. Is there any part of her that you relate to?

Well, she's very determined. I think I'm also a very determined person. She's very determined, and also, she's loyal. She cannot be corrupted. I think I'm also very loyal and I cannot be corrupted. The thing is, when we all know that there is no money, when we all know that there is nothing in there for any of them, and the loss of their people, money, and the death of their team, she still goes in to take Tyler out, because when you shake hands, you shake hands. That's it. You have to stand with your friends. She has that quality and I like her for that.

You have great chemistry with Chris Hemsworth. What was it like working with him?

Incredible. Chris is really one of the gentlest actors I've ever seen. And he's very present. Most actors, including myself, go to this bubble of our telephones between the scenes and between the sets, somehow cutting the stress of the world out, but he's not at all like that. He's not on his phone. He is out there interacting. He is very present, seeing exactly what's happening and what's wrong with who, if there's something wrong with this technician or that cameraman, or even me.

I was fainting one of the days, because I traveled from European winter to extreme heat the night before, and I had to go in front of the camera. I had a special diet because I was allergic to certain things in Thailand. He realized it and he gave me his lunch, which was a special smoothie, a power smoothie. And that smoothie, I will never ever forget the taste of that smoothie. Also, he's really gorgeous and super tall.

Why Farahani loves working with first-time directors like Extraction's Sam Hargrave

What initially drew you to this project?

When I read the script, I liked the character. I was like, wow, this character is amazing. It's an amazing character. And also working with Chris was very, very amusing and I was very happy to be in a project with him.

Also, the fact that it's the first big project of our director, Sam. I always like to participate in the first project. It's very emotional for me. I've done many, many first projects, even in independent cinema, which is really not easy because there's not much money, but at the same time it's amusing to watch, especially when it's a success. It really feels like, "Wow." You are happy for someone like it's your family. I love it.

And, of course, I surf between different kind of cinema: blockbusters, big budget, no budget, independent. I mean, all kinds of things. And this is, of course, something to be added. It's kind of a badass character. I didn't have this typical badass and I thought, yeah, finally it came. I was happy.

Is there anything about this movie that you're particularly proud of that you haven't gotten to talk about yet, or anything about it that you haven't gotten to say that you'd like to?

I'm proud of, first of all, the film and also the point in the film that, at the end of the day, in these kinds of countries, the children are the victims of all this. We have Ovi, the character that has been kidnapped. Then we have the gang of children, they are killers and they are also victims. [Hemsworth's character] is killed by one of these children. I'm proud that this point is actually in the movie.

And also, I'm proud of the character, my character, that she is not an object. She's not a love interest. She is her own person and her own woman and she is a force just like any other. And I am also proud of Sam. Really, literally I think this was his first movie. He did an incredible job with some of the shots that I see, like in the car. I called him, and I said, "Dude, how did you do that?" What an idea. Truly, I think the first thing I'm proud of is Sam. I'm sure he's going to have an amazing career.

What it took to film Extraction's big bridge shoot-out

What were some of the particular challenges that came with shooting in India and Thailand?

It was very hot, and I had some food allergy issues. That was a challenge for me because I had some hives. I had to take a very serious diet for the hives to go away, because I was allergic to something in the food in Thailand, which to this day I don't know exactly what.

And, of course, the scene on the bridge was a big challenge. I am very comfortable working with guns, and that particular gun was a new gun that came out three months before we started. It's very easy to carry, very easy to shoot with. At the same time, it was very heavy. So, all this heavy gear with the sun and the heat was a challenge. I mean, the bridge was hell hot. It was very hot, but at the same time it was pleasure, especially with our hair and makeup. It was an Italian group and they were all boys. There were so many boys around us, so it was fun at the end of the day.

How did you become so comfortable with guns? Do you have any training?

No. The first time I held a gun for a character, it felt like I'd been living with a gun, born with a gun, for all my life, but I'd never even touched a gun. It felt the same as archery. Archery and guns, for me, it's like I've done it all my life without actually doing it. I can manipulate guns, open guns, hold them. It's easy for me. They become part of me. It's crazy. But it's a mystery for myself too. I don't know, it's a mystery.

Your character doesn't do tons of stunts, but you do have some big moments near the end of the movie. Did you have any stunt training?

Well, I had to do some gun training, but because I was familiar with guns, we didn't do that. I told them, "Listen guys, I can give you lessons, I don't need gun training." Also, I was just coming from a movie where I was holding a gun for two months and shooting and, oh my god, all sorts of things. So, no. The rest was just learning on set, like the RPG, how you hold the RPG and how heavy it is. I didn't have any physical fights. I was mostly in the control room, except on the bridge where I'm just gun, gun, gun shooting king.

How much of that bridge scene is practical versus computer-generated?

Oh my god, I don't think there's much that's computer generated. I mean, maybe the shooting of the helicopter. For me, the only thing that was computer-generated was when I shot into the sky, and of course they put in the helicopter, but the rest for me, we were doing that. We were three weeks on that bridge. Oh my god, it still comes into my dreams. It was like a semi-nightmare with the heat and everything.

I don't know exactly what it was like on the other side, but on our side, everything we did, more or less, everything that we did is there. So, only that helicopter is added.