(2007) On The Last Legion

Aishwarya Rai is the sword-wielding female lead in The Last Legion, a fantasty tale about the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the origins of the mythical sword Excalibur. Aishwarya stars alongside Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley as Mira, a warrior who must protect the boy destined to become the last Emporer of Rome. Here, she talks about taking on such an action-packed role.

You play a warrior in The Last Legion, did you have any concerns about the role?
Well, firstly, if I have concerns about a role then I wouldn’t take it. I was excited by the fact that this was the first time to play a character like Mira. And it’s the first time where I had to deal with a lot of action.
I have been trying to choose different experiences each time as an actor and it’s a blessing that I can do that. I was eager and enthusiastic for this role, because [Mira] wasn’t in the original novel. So the author wrote me a note telling me he was glad that I was written into it.

Was training for this film a daunting task?
Well, I wasn’t scared of the training, but I was wrapping up three other films at the time, so I was aware that I had less time than everybody else. But I jumped right into it. What was interesting was that the stunt coordinators noted that I because I danced, and enjoyed it, this made it easy for me to pick up all the fighting.

It’s not just about the handwork or the footwork in these sword fighting sequences. It’s also about the logic of how you would defend yourself and what would be the obvious next move. When you are doing both of these things it makes it all so much smoother. It became something that I enjoyed doing rather than a task that I had been given. I think what translates is that we all had fun, and really got on while making this movie and I think that shows.

How brave are you in real life?
Bring it on! C’mon! We’ve survived showbiz! We’ve survived celebrity! We’ve survived being in the public eye! You tell me. I’m just joking there. I’m brave enough.

What is it about historical epics that draw in such big audiences?
I think the audiences just enjoy being told a good story, whether it be a contemporary story, a drama or a historical epic. What makes movies like Last Legion and movies of that genre so interesting is that these are wholesome family experiences. Just like going through a story book. It’s just that whole wonderful childhood experience of stories being told. To be able to visually experience and discover a world that isn’t familiar is always enjoyable. It’s about being transported into a life outside of your own.

Who looked hottest in those roman outfits?
Ah, these are the things that you do! These are not the things we do! What I liked about the styling of the movie was that it was believable. It wasn’t just about wardrobe and make up, it was about being this believable person.

Now, after all that sword fighting, can you stop yourself from twirling anything remotely sword-shaped?
No! I saw that happen so much though. All the actors were like boys. And I was one of those boys. But I was one of two women on that entire set. But the best part was that I wasn’t treated like a girl, I was treated like one of the boys and I’m glad it worked out like that. It was like being back at school. I did realise thought that I love doing action, and would love to do it again.

So will we see you hacking your way through another race of baddies on the big screen soon?
Ha ha! Well, I think I’ve tried not to keep on doing more of the same. But given an opportunity of being part of an action film, I know I’d enjoy it.

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