Olivia Munn discusses growing up in a multiethnic military family
We were thrilled to find out Olivia Munn, known for her dry wit and stunning beauty, was appearing in the new comedy Ride Along 2 with Kevin Hart, Ice Cube and Ken Jeong. But Munn told us that her busy schedule almost forced her to drop out — at the time, she was wrapping up the final season of HBO's The Newsroom and was booked solid. When she met Kevin Hart at an awards show, however, she knew she had to do whatever it took to clear her schedule.
"We bonded instantly. We just felt like brother and sister. We were laughing and joking and it just felt like family right away, and that doesn’t really happen that often when you work."
But trying to keep a straight face around Hart proved easier said than done. One particularly difficult scene came when they were shooting outdoors overnight.
"There was only so much time to shoot before the sun came up, and I would just keep laughing so hard and ruining every take because Kevin was standing just behind the camera, making me laugh to the point that Cube had to actually make him leave [the] set so we could get the shot done."
But the shoot wasn't all silliness and games. Munn also had to learn how to safely shoot a gun, which she enjoyed. "I felt really capable with the gun by the end of it. That's a really cool skill to have, knowing how to use a gun in a safe way."
But Munn traded her gun for a sword to play the character Psylocke in the upcoming superhero film X-Men: The Apocalypse. After sword-training seven hours a day, she became quite capable at swashbuckling. Her advice for brandishing a blade? "Practice. A lot. You have to develop really strong wrists and stamina. One time I bruised up the entire side of my leg."
While Munn is perfectly capable fighting with a gun and a sword, there's another battle she's not sure how to win: the war against sexism in the film industry. This war has been all the talk in Hollywood as of late, with the industry's lack of diversity in film. But in this arena, her weapon of choice may surprise you.
"I think you have to teach people how to treat you. I can't control what somebody else thinks or does, but I don't have to sit there and take it. I don't have to let your opinions define who I am."
Munn feels strongly that all women deserve respect and fair treatment, and not just in Hollywood.
"It's women everywhere — especially America, in every profession. Women should be getting equal pay, and a lot of times, they should be getting more pay. They should be getting what they deserve."
Munn admits she doesn't have all the answers when it comes to the issue of gender parity, but said, "Women who are in more powerful positions [can] help lift that glass ceiling. It's the same glass ceiling that goes over me, over you and [your] daughters and all women."
Because Munn is multiracial, as a youth, she was the subject of a lot of bullying. "Being a minority growing up, being Asian-American, I'm used to having people say things about me being different or not fitting in with the norm. You can't force people to change, but you can know who you are and have a strong sense of self and fight through that. Best-case scenario is that they see your strength and that they don't affect you, and they change because of that. Racism is ignorance, so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what stupid people think."
On the positive side, Munn claims that being multiethnic and growing up in a military family helped her as an actress. "I feel more connected to the world and I feel comfortable everywhere. I can pull from a lot of different memories and personalities I've met along the way. I definitely incorporate my experiences in many ways."
When we asked Munn if she'll be traveling to see her boyfriend, Aaron Rodgers, play in the upcoming Packers game against the Washington Redskins, she said she doesn't go to away games. "I don't want my boyfriend to have to worry about where I am or if I'm OK while he's playing football. At Lambeau, I've got a place to sit and watch the game and hang out with my friends. I just don't want him to have to worry about me."
Ride Along 2 opens in theaters Jan. 15.