When it comes to playing a damsel in distress, actress Maggie Grace is building a hefty resume.
In 2004, the 28-year-old stunner got her big break as island castaway Shannon Rutherford on the hit ABC series “Lost.” Just a few years later, Grace hit it big on the silver screen as abducted daughter Kim Mills in the surprise Liam Neeson hit “Taken,” and followed up with roles in “Knight and Day,” “Faster” and “The Twilight Saga.”
On Friday, she gets taken again in the sci-fi action thriller “Lockout.” The film stars Guy Pearce as a cocky ex-government agent sent to rescue the President’s daughter (Grace) from an outer space prison that has been hijacked by its captives.
I recently caught up with Maggie on her way to JFK airport for a poignant conversation about her new film, movie magic, superstitions and … “Taken 2”?
David Onda: Your recent characters should really invest in a whistle or some pepper spray, don’t you think?
Maggie Grace: [laughs] Yeah, or a really great German shepherd. There does seem to be a theme lately. It’s funny. I don’t know what to make of it. “Imperiled female” should be stamped on my forehead.
Onda: What attracts you to a film that could loosely be described as “man saves President’s daughter from space prison?”
Grace: [laughs] Very loosely. It really has that throwback quality. Obviously, there’s a certain heightened reality, but it really has that sense of fun and humor and unabashed entertainment, and I think we certainly embrace that.
Onda: The stunts in this are quite impressive. You take a punch like a champ.
Grace: Thank you. We arrived a little bit early in Belgrade and had some time to get in a little combat training, so that was good. That kind of stuff is the fun part, the movie magic part, when you get to play up on the wires and that sort of thing.
Onda: Speaking of movie magic, a lot of “Lockout” was shot against a green screen. Do you ever feel silly essentially talking to nothing?
Grace: Yeah, there is an awkwardness sometimes. You have to really trust the storyboards or what they’re gonna eventually fill in so you don’t end up looking silly. But you definitely feel silly occasionally. I think no matter how much experience you have, there’s still a moment where no adult should be playing pretend in quite that same way. “There’s a monster coming! Go!”
Onda: I heard you were very excited to try on the space suit in this movie, but ended up being very disappointed.
Grace: It was incredibly anticlimactic. We couldn’t move in them at all. So they had to [computer generate] our legs. It was really funny. At least Guy was in the same position, so I didn’t feel like it was a fault of my athleticism.
Onda: The villain in “Lockout” is played by Peter Stormare, who is a great villain, but seems like he’d be a scary guy.
Grace: He’s so sweet. He’s really lovely. It’s funny too, what an international effort this was. He’s Swedish, Guy’s Australian, I’m American – the only American – the director’s Irish, [producer] Luc Besson is French and then the crew on the ground was Serbian. We were all over the map.
Onda: The movie opens on Friday the 13th – are you superstitious?
Grace: I am very superstitious about toasts. I never toast with water and I’m very careful to make eye contact with everyone I toast with. Apparently it’s 7 years bad sex, which I can’t … I can’t risk it. Very serious business.
Onda: I’ve never heard that before.
Grace: You’re like, “That explains it!”
Onda: Yes! Why has this been happening to me??
Grace: [laughs] Sometimes I’m even to the point of being rude, where I’m like, “I can’t toast with water, I can’t do it.”
Onda: In October, you’re starring in the sequel to “Taken,” which reminds me of “Home Alone 2” in the sense that you can’t believe these characters could make the same mistake twice.
Grace: Yeah, they can’t go on vacation.
Onda: I hear “Taken 2” sort of flips the scenario a bit.
Grace: Yeah, flipping the scenario is quite accurate. It’s kind of an inversion of the plot of the first one in that my character’s parents are taken. So it’s more empowered action fun for me and it’s more of a compelling choice to have this one driven by a personal vendetta.
Onda: Do people offer you unsolicited advice on how to not get kidnapped?
Grace: Oh, it’s melee when it comes to that. Everyone’s like, “Don’t get in a taxi with a strange French boy!”
Onda: I bet it never gets old either.
Grace: [sarcastically] Nope, it’s new every time, I promise you. Fresh and funny every … single … time. In fact, I’m pulling into an airport, so I’m braced and waiting.
Onda: Alright. Well, make sure you don’t get into a taxi with a strange French boy.
Grace: I won’t. [laughs] I promise.
“Lockout” is in theaters everywhere Friday, April 13. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.