"We put on a really big show!"

 

Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Melissa Smith. People who might have seen me before might have seen me on Making the Band 3 or the CW’s Pussicat Doll show, it was the Search for the Next Pussicat Doll, and if you don’t know any of those shows then you’ll have to see me in the movie! I’m from Canada, and I grew up there, my family then moved to Michigan, where I found my love for singing and dancing and all through school, I trained really hard and always knew at an early age that this was what I wanted to do, just to come out move out to LA and be part of the industry. I told my parents when I was 12 that I was gonna move to LA, be a singer, dancer, actress and was gonna do it all… And that’s what I did and the journey never stops, you always grow as an artist, as an actress, and you know, it’s a crazy journey, it’s a hard journey but if you stick to it, and are really driven and passionate about you’re doing then you will succeed, at least that’s what I believe!

You pretty much do it all, is there one you put in priority?
No it’s everything but, obviously if I’m shooting a movie that’s gonna be taking priority over my music at the moment. I try to balance everything out and whatever comes my way whether it be something else to record or shooting a movie then that becomes my main focus and I focus on that and you know, I give it my all.

In “Command Performance”, you’re both acting and playing a pop singer, how did you get approached for the part?
I guess I had shot my manager an email, and it came across his desk, I’d actually just started working with him. At the time, I was just focusing on my music a little bit more and he said “well do you wanna go and audition for this role?” and I said “I don't know let me take a look at it”. So I read the script and I fell in love with Venus. Of course I felt Venus was very much like me, I mean it was almost like a no-brainer, like “oh my god this is my role!”. That with my whole mentality going into it, like “this is mine, I know I am this girl, I know this girl”! So I studied all my lines and rehearsed. And I went in to my first audition, I met James [Chalke] and Barry [Evans], and they let me read with them.

Then I got a call back the next day, that’s when I met with Dolph and I read with him. We had to do like some chemistry reading just to see if we had chemistry on camera, just fun stuff, see how we would look together…

From the beginning, I don’t wanna say like I knew I was gonna get the part, but I felt in my heart that it was “my role”, and it was my job to go after it, and it was my job to get it, and I got it. It was for me, what an amazing role because in a lot of ways, you’re right, I got to do everything, I got to sing, I got to dance, I got to be this glamorous pop star then at the end I get to be this bloody crazy… It’s like a glamorous role and then it’s down to the dirt and blood and you’re shooting people, she’s really fighting for her life, so it was a very very cool role for me, and it brought me to a lot of different places, just wasn’t playing this one person, it was like she went through a whole transformation too you know.

Was there something you were anxious about or what was the most challenging thing for you?
I’d never done action before and my background is more comedy so this was my first action movie but it’s funny because I always wanted to do action. I grew up doing gymnastics and dancing I’m very flexible and I’m very muscular so my body is trained like an athlete, so I felt like, this would be very good for me I felt I would be very good in an action role. Yeah it was like “ok, well I haven’t shot a gun, I need to learn some stunts” and, of course all of those things go to your head but it was nothing like “I’m not gonna be able to do it, I felt confident in myself. The emotional scenes, you know watching my brother get killed, I think it’s just important that becomes real to you, and you make it your own, and you really find that area in your heart, in your mind, where you can release that emotion. What is tricky about that is when you find it, it’s right there, you’re there with your emotion in your scene and then they cut and you gotta do it like some many more times, they gotta get from this angle and from that angle, you really have to stay on that emotion. The first time was very easy to cry and the more times you have to get it it’s like “ok my tears are running out!”, you have to sustain that!

It helps to think it’s actually real…
Oh yeah for sure! And it feels true. I mean the guns, what they’re shooting is blanks but they’re shooting real bullets like it’s just blanks. It is real, real gunfire. Yeah it is really happening when you’re in the moment, and the first time I heard the gunshot I was very like scared, you know it’s like “WOW this is actually going down you know!”

How did you start working with Dolph once you got the part?
You know Dolph is really cool to work with because, before we went in and we read the whole script with the cast, then we had a couple of rehearsals before we were gonna shoot the scene, and that was really good because we’d get our blocking down, we’d get the moments and the beats that he wants, and yeah we rehearse it we rehearsed the scene, and then when it comes to shoot it we run the lines and then we go ahead and shoot it and everybody kind of knows what they’re doing so... he was very smooth to work with. And he’s not one of those directors that’s “all in your face”, for the most part he’s very calm, he’s very direct with you and he gives you a lot of good pointers, he’ll tell you what he wants to see: “okay I need you to do it a little more this way or change it up and do this”. It was really good working with him.

"I feel like this film, and I'm not biased in any way but, I feel like this film is one of his best films."

 

Do you think it was easier to work with him as a director since he’s also an actor?
Oh of course, exactly, because he’s been there, he’s done it. In very quick moment, the director doesn’t have a lot of time to just like go into this big huge deal, Dolph would get right to the point and be like “OK I need you to do this”, he would even like act it out, he would get you right to that moment where he needed you. Of course it is easy because he’s an actor, he understands actors.

Were you familiar with him and his movies before?
Yeah of course I’ve seen some of his movies before. When I first saw him was in Rocky, you know Ivan Drago, everybody knows him from that role, Universal Soldier. He’s really good at what he does. I told him I wanna see him do a comedy, it’d be really funny to see him do like a romantic comedy, completely different from what everybody sees him doing.

He could really pull it off because he’s very funny…
Yeah he could!

How many songs do you perform in the movie?
There’s just one song that I’m actually performing, it’s called “Lost In Love”. I had dancers, we put on a really big show, that was really exciting for me, I had such a rush, and the people who were watching the performance they were so great to work with, they gave me a lot of love, and it’s cool because I see a lot of their energy, however that sounds the people in the audience are gonna push you and they’re gonna go further. But yeah that was really great, that was a big highlight for me to do that scene, it was really fun. I wish we could have done more we just didn’t have enough time, I mean halfway through my performance, the bad guys come in and start shooting so… It was very very cool.

It’s not like a full hour and half performance but you had the hundred of extras who where really excited…
They were SO excited, oh my god, they were going crazy, it was so cute. I didn’t really think that the response was gonna be that great but they really loved me and they loved being a part of it. They were really really great actually to work with, I can’t thank them enough you know because they bring that extra energy to the performance you know. And watching it on the playback, it really looks like it’s real, it’s not like we’re doing this fake concert, everyone is really performing and it looks really really good, they’ve got all the lights and… it was really really great, great show. So I wish I could have kept going on and did four or five more songs! It was such a “feel good feeling” just to be up on stage and kind of do my thing.

Was it so different from other shows you did before?
Yeah, I mean the venue was a lot bigger, so to perform in a venue like that, NDK, was really amazing. It was very cool.

Who came up with the choreography, did you work on it?
Yeah, I worked on it, actually you know the choreographer that I had is Richard Jackson and he choreographed the dance breakdown in the beginning, when we first start, and then we had a choreographer, Stacy, I'm sorry I don't know her last name, she's a Bulgarian choreographer, and she had a group of dancers and together we choreographed the rest of it. But yeah it's really cool, moving on stuff it's high energy show, there's never a dull moment to it.

Did you have to work a lot with the dancers?
Yeah we did, we had a lot of rehearsals, which I think is really important, because they didn't know my choreography before I came. I had to teach them the opening part, it's just a different style, it's fitting things a lot harder, it's a little more funky, and I just had to teach them, you know, everything and make sure it's was really good because I wanted it to look really good you know so no one can be off, we have to be together as a group. I rehearsed them really hard but I think in the end like when you rehearse like that, you grow and you become better.

"Dolph is a funny guy, not a lot of people know that but he's really funny!"

 

How would you convince, your fans or non-action fans, to check out "Command Performance"?
You know it's so easy because, for me, this movie is not just an action movie, the genre is kinda everywhere, Dolph and I were talking about it, it's multi-genred I think. Because there's some comedy in it, there's action in it, there's performances in it, there's a love story in it. There's so much involved in this movie. That's why I said before it was such an honor to have this role because, it's not just one-noted, it's like I'm doing everything in this movie. Really really great! I think anybody and everybody would love to see this movie, because there's a little bit of everything for somebody, you know.

What are you working on now do you have a full-length album coming up?
Yeah right now I'm just continuing to record, and like I said you never stop growing as an artist. The music changes so quickly, even the stuff I did last year, to me, has already came and gone. So my music has to evolve into something else right now, I'm just getting back in the studio and we are trying to figure what that next sound is. It's really exciting, I love recording, I love being creative. Then I like thinking of that where, half of it, how the music video is gonna look like, all that kind of stuff. I just wanna get in the studio, keep recording and then eventually put out an album. In the meantime other than recording, I've got different scripts coming my way to keep acting. You know I love every part of the entertainment industry. I mean back in the day you had to do everything, you had to sing, you had to dance, you had to act, there were days when they didn't even look at you if you didn't do all three back then so... that's really what my love is and my passion is for, for everything. I love to work really hard, I love to be in acting class, I love to be in vocal lessons, I love to do recording and I love to always work on my craft.

Would you like to add anything?
I can't say enough: it was an amazing experience and it was really cool to work with Dolph. When I first went in to my call back and I met him I was like “WOW it's really Dolph Lundgren”, like he's really standing in front of me you know! And that was really cool, I mean I can say I did a movie with him, he's a really great actor.

I feel like this film, and I'm not biased in any way but, I feel like this film is one of his best films. I mean character-wise, acting-wise, I really feel like he really did a great job. Dolph is a funny guy, not a lot of people know that but he's really funny! And yeah I think he brought a lot to this character in it. It was different, it wasn't just him playing just the action guy that we've all seen before: Joe, his character, is really different from what he's done before. I think a lot of his fans are gonna be really excited to see that. And working with Ida and Robin, the two girls in the film, I became such close friends with them and that was really cool working with those little girls, they're so sweet and so funny, we had such a great time on set. Yeah the opportunity has been amazing, and it's been really great!

With Ida and Robin it was good for chemistry, because you share so much in the story...
Yeah absolutely. It's like I was like the mama bird and they were under my wing because they were so... It's very traumatizing for them I mean to actually go through all of that in the movie, and how scared they were so... I had to pull it together and be the tough girl who'll not let them see that I was kind of scared too: so “we'll get through this together” type attitude and “its gonna be OK”, that sort of thing. But yeah they're so sensitive girls.

As you said the whole team was great and it could well bring Dolph back into the mainstream...
Yeah definitely! I think so, that's exactly how I felt too. It shows a different color for him I think, but it's definitely one of those movies that everyone will like, and will be entertained to see. Because that's what people want, they want to be entertained, they wanna laugh, they wanna feel moved, they wanna feel the connection. And if you can move someone emotionally through a film that's where you got it/them.

But thank you for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate it!

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