carla gugino

INTERVIEW: Carla Gugino Plays a Killer Librarian in Gunpowder Milkshake

The Spy Kids star talks fight scenes, Zack Snyder, and more.
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Carla Gugino has been a film and television staple since childhood, where she first made a name for herself as a member of Shelley Long’s Troop Beverly Hills. Her wide-ranging career has seen her take on dark comic book adaptations like Watchmen and Sin City as well as beloved family films like Spy Kids and Night at the Museum. Most recently, she’s starred in Netflix’s critically acclaimed horror series, The Haunting of Hill House and it’s sequel The Haunting of Bly Manor.

Gugino joins an all-star cast in Netflix’s action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, which follows assassin Sam (Karen Gillan) who is on the run from her employers after she protects an innocent girl. Sam must team up with her estranged assassin mother (Lena Headey) and her lethal associates, known as The Librarians. Gugino plays Madeleine, one of the Librarians, alongside Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett. We talked to Gugino about her epic tomahawk fight scene, working with a cast of badass women, and more.

THE MARY SUE: Gunpowder Milkshake features such an all-star cast of badass women. What was the vibe like on set?

CARLA GUGINO: It was really exceptional you know, … I’ve been on so many sets with the majority of people being men, and I love working with guys, and that’s also a really interesting combination of energies, and overall what you want is people, male or female, who are passionate and engaged and excited to be there. But there was no doubt about the cumulative power of so many awesome ladies together, there was just no ego whatsoever, there was a collaborative quality immediately.

We all felt so lucky to be there, and funnily enough we were all appreciators of one another’s work but had never worked together. And I think that because, so often, there’s maybe one or two women in a film and so you don’t get the opportunity … sometimes you’re doing the one female role in the movie, you know!

carla gugino, angela bassett, michelle yeoh

Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, and Karen Gillan in ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’. image: Reiner Bajo/© 2021 STUDIOCANAL SAS, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

TMS: In the film, your character has a one-on-one fight where you wield a tomahawk. What was that training process like?

CG: Our stunt coordinators were amazing, Sébastien Peres (Lucy) and Laurent Demianoff (Tom Clancy’s JACK RYAN), they’re French and they worked on Lucy which was filled with amazing stunts. It was exciting, Karen [Gillan] was there for a lot longer because she had a lot more stunt training to do, and the librarians, we came in and we had like, a week and a half to prep for those stunts, so it was pretty significant.

I’ve done a lot of stunts in movies, but I’ve never done a real fight sequence like that, and I’ve certainly had not done a one-armed tomahawk fight sequence. Two days into rehearsing, I literally could not lift my right arm! I was hesitant to tell the stunt guys because I was like, ‘I want to do as many of the stunts as I can possibly do’ so I said under my breath, ‘I cant really lift my arm’ and they said ‘That’s totally normal, don’t worry about it!’ We did some PT and icing on it, and I was back in action the next day. That particular fight because its one-on-one, its important for us that we had that sort of conversation about what we were saying back and forth to each other with those actions, because its sort of a definitive moment within the movie.

TMS: Obviously, we want to see way more of the Librarians in action. Has there been any talk of a sequel or prequel?

CG: There have been those conversations! Who knows what will come of all of it … I think it would be so fun because we just touched on these characters, and there’s so much more to explore with them. I think I’m always a fan of leaving people wanting more, which is good.

TMS: I have to ask you about your role in the iconic Troop Beverly Hills. Looking back, what sticks with you about that film?

CG: That was the only time I ever lied about my age to get a job! I was 16 and I said I was 14 to get the job, and I was actually supported in my white lie, because halfway through the film I told the director I was actually 16, and he said, ‘Oh I would have never cast you had I known!’ Which is why I dislike the IMDb age listing, not because I dislike any age I ever am, but because it gives you an idea of what someone is capable of playing. You know, the truth is I was also 27 when I played a mom in Spy Kids, which was completely mathematically incorrect!

But yesterday I went to vote in New York in the primaries, and the woman who checked me in was a huge TBH fan, so that’s funny you mention it. It was a huge movie for me. It was the first movie where I was able to make enough money to support myself as an actor, so that was a big deal. Shelley [Long] and I corresponded recently, though I have not seen her in a long time. And Jenny Lewis, who I’m a big fan of her music actually, she and I crossed paths in Austin not too long ago and it was so great to see her. But yeah, I have very fond feelings for that movie.

Gunpowder Milkshake is streaming on Netflix on July 14.

(image: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.