Rihanna talks about making her acting debut in Peter Berg's Battleship and getting into both physical and mental shape to play a Navy weapons officer. She also discusses her audition and why she felt more nervous walking onto a movie set than walking out in front of thousands of fans on-stage. She was speaking at a UK press conference for the film.
Do you believe in aliens?
Rihanna: I never really put a lot of thought into it. It is what it is, you know. After hearing what Peter Berg [director] has to say about it [based on Stephen Hawking's documentary on Goldilocks planets], I definitely want to go and do some more research. My dad used to make me sit outside on the steps all night long, looking for a UFO flying by and I had to do that for years. I didn't see any, but I saw a falling star once and I said: 'Yesss dad! Come and see, it just darted.' But I definitely want to go and look it up now.
I remember reading an interview with you around the time of Good Girl Gone Bad where you said you wanted to take some time out to make a movie. So, this is obviously something that you've been wanting to do for a while?
Rihanna: It has been something we've been working on for a long time but never did the right part come up. I met with Pete and I didn't really know much about the part. I didn't even know the meeting I was going into. I was supposed to meet with my manager but she got there really late. So, I walked in and asked if she was there and they were like 'no'and Pete walked right in and said: 'So, these are the thugs...' and he was pointing at the alien characters, the little demos of them. There were tons of them and pictures all over the room. I was dying laughing. Every time he said 'thug' I was cracking up laughing because I had no idea about what he was talking about. It wasn't until the end of the meeting that I realised he was the director of the film and what the film was about. But he had me in there, saying: 'I'm going to get you motherf**ker!' He had me saying the craziest stuff right on the spot. Then he said: 'Yeah, I think you're perfect.' So, that's how it went down. I got the script and I loved it.
Can you talk about working with Jackie, your trainer, because I gather you became quite close friends?
Rihanna: Yeah, she's in the Navy and she's actually a weapons officer so she is like the real-life Raikes. I hung out with her a lot. I spent a lot of time with her in Hawaii, hanging out, watching her body language and listening to her iPod. She taught me a lot about weapons and how to handle them, about drills and how to do the right salute. She was definitely very close to me along the way and I wanted to embody her attitude and her character - she''s very tough, very tough, and an intimidating girl but she's beautiful. You would never think that.
She described you as a natural bad-ass...
Rihanna: [Laughs] Really? That's good. She's a real bad-ass.
How was the physical training? How did you react to someone shouting at you?
Rihanna: I did some personal training of my own before we got to set, with a real soldier. The soldier was definitely scary, scary, scary. He got in my face. He really got to me to an emotional place where I could feel what it took to get where this character was. It wasn't just surface, there was a lot more depth to it. I was a lot more connected to the character when I went to play the part, So, it was intense but it was necessary.
Did you ever think of quitting?
Rihanna: I didn't think of quitting on the film, but every minute of the training I was thinking of quitting. I was like: 'I need to get this guy out of my hotel room!' Seriously! I was thinking: 'He cannot be yelling at me when he's in my room. This is scary.' When he came around, I would hide my pink iPod and hide all my heels. I felt guilty shopping when I was training for this film... he really messed my head up [laughs].
You've said about wanting to make a film for a while, so did this experience live up to your expectations?
Rihanna: It's been beyond my expectations. It definitely was a great way for me to get my feet wet. It was such a big film and it was scary to even get involved, knowing that because it's my first film. But Peter was very, very good at calming my nerves. His energy definitely filters through the set, the crew and cast. You feel comfortable and before you know it, you're saying lines that weren't even in the script. On my first day I had 12 lines that I was never prepared for. But he threw me into it like that. You don't even think about it, really. It was an incredible experience, so I'm looking forward to doing more films in the future for sure.
This is a lot about friendship, so how far do you go for your friends? What is friendship to you?
Rihanna: I'm a very loyal person and my friends know that. I mean, without that, really there is no trust and if you can't trust people, what is life? Really?
What are you most excited for the audience to see?
Rihanna: The action and the graphics, the CGI is incredible. I'm just seeing it from being in the audience myself, because this is my first film. So, when I watch it, it's like brand new. When you film it, it's nothing like when you see it. And I was blown away. I'm really excited to see it, it's action-packed but it's really, really fun.
How were your nerves coming onto the set as opposed to when you walk out on stage to sing for your fans?
Rihanna: There's no comparison, I cannot even compare the two. I'm way more familiar when going on stage. I still get nervous every time, but the fear of the unknown is indescribable. I had no idea what I was getting into and I didn't know what to expect. It was a huge set, with so many people, all these huge cranes and cameras. I mean, it was scary, it was really scary and then there was little me trying to get through everything and hoping that they wouldn't call me today. And right away, it was like: 'Boom, you're up - and you have lines, say this!' But it was awesome. Pete was really good about throwing me into it, so I had no time to think about it.
I have no doubt that all of your fans will be coming to see this film. You're so good at connecting with people. Things are clearly going brilliantly in your career. I was wondering if you are as happy in your private life? And will we be seeing a certain Mr Ashton Kutcher making a trip soon?
Rihanna: Wow, how disappointing was that question? I'm happy and I'm single if that's what you're really asking.
Interview: Rob Carnevale Photo: Universal