Even Robin Sparkles gets a little star-struck. Especially when it involves Tom Cruise.
Cobie Smulders trades in Maria Hill's SHIELD uniform for one from the U.S. Army in her new movie, "Jack Reacher: Never Look Back." She plays the equal parts honor bound and badass Maj. Susan Turner, who joins Reacher in a two-hander "solve the mystery/catch the bad guys" plot that involves a lot of punching and chases.
The latter gave Smulders a legit "holy sh**" moment with her co-star, when she found out that, yep, Tom Cruise drives in real-life exactly how you'd expect him to drive.
"We were shooting a scene where," Smulders said, "we're in the car -- he's driving -- and we drive down some steps and come to a screeching halt. And when they were like 'Cut, reset,' and Tom would just like peel out backwards, down the street, going like 70 MPH. Then, he'd pull a 180 [degree turn] and drive back and there was this moment, like, 'Oh, I'm in this car with Tom Cruise and he's driving really fast!'"
The only thing Cruise does better than driving is making sure his co-stars feel comfortable working together. According to Smulders, that started the first day she ever met the Oscar-nominated star.
"We did a table read together of this script. And, right away, he was so generous. He was all about: 'What do you think about this?' Or 'would [your character] say it this way or not, and how would she say it. It was so inclusive, his process ... he was so welcoming, and just helped my overall confidence." Confidence is not something her character lacks. In fact, she gets almost as many moments to show off her badassery as Reacher does -- thanks to the script and her director, Ed Zwick (above, center).
While shooting an intense beat involving Turner and Reacher preparing for what they think is going to be a brawl, Turner runs up a flight of stairs and, nonchalantly, tears off a post from the banister with the intent to use it as a club. Because obviously.
"That particular moment, I think Ed came up with that," she recalled. Smulders added that the filmmakers gave her "a lot of freedom" to make sure her character wasn't just a sidekick or window dressing, hence the generous amounts of kick-punching for Turner. Smulders' favorite fight sequence?
"A key scene for me, for us, was the kitchen fight," Smulders said. "For that one, we were sort of toying around with this idea of -- it's their first fight together. So we tried to stage it in a way to get across how do these two work together -- and also, kind of keep the tension up and service the introduction of the villain as a real threat."
As challenging as that fight was, Smulders was more than game to satisfy her one mandate for the scene: "Be as vicious as possible."
Judging by the final product, she succeeded.
"Never Go Back" opens in theaters Friday.