It’s not like Elsa Pataky has been completely absent from movie and television screens in the decade since her memorable introduction as Rio cop-turned-Dom love interest Elena Neves in 2011’s Fast Five.
But beyond a few (sometimes brief) reprisals of Officer Neves in subsequent Fast sequels, the Australian webseries Tidelands and a handful of other projects, acting has largely taken a backseat to parenting for Pataky over the past decade. In that time, she has had three kids — one daughter and twin sons — with husband Chris Hemsworth.
“You have a family, and as a mom I just wanted to enjoy being a mom,” Pataky tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s a very busy role that you have to play, and I just wanted to be really involved in it, and I love it. There’s guilt when you’re working and not able to enjoy those moments with your kids. But I’ve been doing things here and there.”
Pataky returns to action in a big way, though, with her new Netflix thriller Interceptor — a star vehicle in every way (just check out the poster) for the 45-year-old Spanish-born actress and model. She plays an unflinching Army captain who becomes “the only thing standing between American and Armageddon,” as her superior tells her, when terrorists hijack an offshore missile interceptor base she’s stationed at with designs to launch a nuclear attack from Russia.
“I’ve always been a big fan of action movies, since I was little,” Pataky says. “I grew up watching Indiana Jones and wanted to be the female version of that role.”
Indiana Jones never stabbed a villain in the eye with his gun — one of several brutal displays of force from Pataky in the film, for which she trained for six months to add muscle and estimates she learned 800 moves to perform the majority of her own stunts.
Color Matthew Reilly, the popular Australian novelist who makes his directorial debut with Interceptor, impressed.
“Her physicality speaks for itself. Elsa got into Linda Hamilton shape for this movie,” Reilly tells us, referencing the Terminator actress’s famed brawn. “I noticed on the first day of the shoot, though, that Elsa is an extraordinary actress. … She’s just dynamite. She’s absolute dynamite. I can’t speak highly enough of Elsa Pataky. And here she’s coming back from a [long] break from acting having gone off to raise a family. I couldn’t have been any more fortunate with my lead.”
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In fact, Reilly was so taken by what he saw from his star in the early goings, he made a bold proclamation to Hemsworth, who serves as executive producer (and appears in a cameo in the film), while in a meeting with the Hollywood power couple.
“I said, ‘You know, my plan is to make Elsa the biggest action movie star in your household,'” Reilly recounts. “And he chuckled. He goes, ‘Ha ha ha.’ I go, ‘No, I'm not joking.’ And so I think Elsa quite liked that. … We’ve laid down the first challenge.”
Pataky confirms she’s going to keep pursuing action roles like her Thor-playing husband.
“I really love action movies,” she says. “And it was really good. Chris has been the action man in the house, and I’ve been the mom, so for our kids to watch that, ‘Oh, wow, you can be the action mom, too.’ Just being an inspiration for them. For little boys, seeing a woman kicking ass, it’s good for them. And same for my daughter, to see you’re capable. You’re a girl and you’re capable [of doing] the same as a man.”
Interceptor premieres Friday on Netflix.
Watch the trailer: