Following an early screening of the fantasy film “Warcraft” at the AMC Loews IMAX theatre on Wednesday, Paula Patton joined moviegoers for a panel discussion on the film and took questions from the audience.
The panel, hosted by radio personality Angela Yee, shed light on the both the physical and mental toll, this role took on Patton, as she portrayed the half orc/human breed, Garona Halforcen in the film.
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Initially, Patton said, she was terrified of taking on this role, as this was her acting debut in such an intensely action-heavy part. “Unlike any other movie I’ve done before, I was scared until the very moment I walked on the stage.” She went on to describe how this was he first time ever being this scared to play a part and needing the reassurance from a friend that she was able to execute the role properly. “I had never played a character that people knew before and was beloved by some. It was scary.”
This came as a bit of a surprise, as you don’t often witness actors being so transparent and admitting their self-perceived shortcomings. Patton affirmed that her fear began to make her stronger and more interested in learning as much as possible for the role. “The things that scare you are the things you’re meant to do.” she said.
During the panel discussion, Patton’s shyness was evident. Often blushing and giggling as compliments were given to her. The actress would often be interrupted by people shouting commentary like “You’re beautiful” or attempting to complete her sentences for her – and she would let them. She would completely stop mid-sentence and ask the person “What did you say?” and let them speak – sometimes not even allowing herself to finish her own thought. Small observations such as that one, spoke to who she is as an individual and her thoughts about her character, Garona, did even more so.
Host, Angela Yee, asked Patton if there were any parallels between Patton being bi-racial and portraying a female character that comes from two breeds. “I hated the idea of bi-racial. Often times, when people would say that, it was a way to disassociate themselves with being Black. Patton also attributed the divisiveness of our times to the need for people to identify with one thing or the other. “We all have so many different cultural backgrounds, but it depends on where your heart space is at.” she said.
In Warcraft, Patton’s character’s name: Garona translated to ‘cursed one’ and she made it a point to directly relate it to how we, as a society, choose to view ourselves. “No matter what life you’re born into, you have the ability to change your faith.” she said. “Somebody gave her that name, that’s not the name she chose for herself. You can choose not to be a victim. You can choose not to be cursed”
In preparing for her role, Patton says she was in the gym for two and a half hours each day, six days a week. There was a period where Patton says she “looked like a man,” and drank protein shakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patton also did the majority of her own stunts and learned to ride a horse and fight with a sword. Getting so immersed into the lifestyle of the character, she says, is what was most transformative in her journey to becoming Garona. “Feeling the strength of overcoming each character really made me feel like a warrior.” she said “Every time I got through one challenge, it strengthened me.”
Patton cited her experiences on set as ‘life changing’ and the turning point for her personally. “During this movie, I got separated from my husband and we’re divorced now, but that’s life – it happens. I can’t look back at this and think ‘It’s now time to change my life.'” Patton seemed visibly unnerved and at peace with herself. She inspired many in the audience by relating Garona’s fantastical experiences to those that we may face in our individual lives each day. “We all have a choice. It’s unfair in life, but we can’t spend much time on it. You can’t choose your parents, but you can choose your mind, your hopes, your aspirations.” she said
“You can change your life if you want to.”
Patton ended the panel by answering questions from the audience about which gaming console she uses and how strong the chemistry was between her fellow actors, followed by a booming applause from all in attendance.
The film hits theaters this Friday!