The latest action film from legendary director Martin Campbell will be released in theaters on August 20, 2021. The protected one features a star cast that includes Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton.
“Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and trained in the family business, Anna (Maggie Q) is the most experienced contract killer in the world,” says the official summary. “But when Moody – the man who was like a father to her and taught her everything about trust and survival – is brutally killed, Anna swears revenge. When she becomes entangled in an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton) whose appeal to her goes far beyond cat and mouse, her confrontation becomes fatal and the loose ends of a lifelong killing will become even more intertwined. “
ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke with The protected one Star Maggie Q talks about the film, her chemistry with Keaton, and her work with Campbell.
Tyler Treese: Martin Campbell, are you talking about a legendary director. He’s made so many great action films. How exciting was it to get the chance to work with him?
Maggie Q: Martin Campbell was the magic word because they called me about this script and said, well, we have this. It used to be called The Asset. Just turn the title. I thought, oh, this goes to another action movie, whatever the shallow bit, and then they started dropping the names. You’re like Martin is directing, Richard Wenk wrote the script and I think, “Oh, wow, these are the main characters in this genre.” One of the things I said to my agents was that I didn’t want to do an action movie. I said these words specifically. Then a team emerged that really couldn’t be denied. If you want to make an action movie, do it at this level. But it is true. I did [say that].
Your chemistry with Michael Keaton is so great throughout the film, whether it’s romantic tension or a life or death action scene. Was that there from the start or did you have to develop that chemistry somehow on set?
I think it’s both. I think you have to kind of do it, I think number one, I want to give credit to the people who make films because it’s not easy. I mean, it’s not easy to cast a movie and just say, “Hey, this will work.” Good casting director, good directors have instincts when it comes to casting. They are very good at what they do and it is not accidental. So I think they already put it together was a blessing. So give us a leg up, I think Michael and I and he’s such a great guy. He’s a great person. He’s easy to work with and trust me, I’ve worked with people at Michael Keaton’s level. I’ve worked with movie stars. Well, movie stars, simple is not the word I would use on every level. So when you have someone who just focuses on the work, who just wants to make the chemistry what it should be, and give the film the best possible chances it has. Working with someone like Michael is such a dream because that’s what he’s focused on. I mean there is no ego, no me and my accomplishments. It’s really like what is the work at hand and how do we do it? Right. Let’s get to work and we’re done. We worked a lot together.
I love the beginning of the movie. It just starts with some really great action scenes, and there are so many more to come. Did one of the stunts really turn out or was one of the sequences a lot of fun?
Yes, I think the jump out of the building and then the car. My fight with Michael was really fun because Michael did a great job too. I was so impressed with him. He always said, “Well, obviously you’re much better,” or whatever. I would say it doesn’t make sense to me because we do it together and we’re good together. That’s what counts. He was really funny about how hard he worked. He got these sequences down and he did that really well. He’s great in the movie, as if his physicality is believable, and that’s hard to do. Neither of us are jumpers in this movie, so we work with what we have. I thought it was great and not a likely suspect for an action piece like this either. This is Martin Campbell who has this vision.
Throughout your career, you’ve played a lot of badass women who can serve as inspiration. What does it mean for you as an actress that you keep getting such strong roles?
I only want to play women who like and want to be women. I mean, I want to be like a character that I play [laughs]. I have goals too. With women like that, because a lot of the women I play are real survivors. They really took the hand that was dealt them, which wasn’t a great one, and they turned it into something of their own. This is something I know women are perfectly capable of. I’d seen it too and I think it’s not only inspiring to portray, but also gives due credit to the women who did it. It’s a very feminine thing to pick up and just keep going. I love that about women and I like to portray women like that.
One thing I really like about your character in the movie is that she is the student of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, but they are treated as completely equals. Can you discuss this relationship and what it was like working with a professional like Jackson?
I love their relationship. Martin was so persistent about chemistry for her. Obviously the opposite kind of chemistry I have with Michael where you really love that bond. It’s platonic, like I raised this girl as equals and she’s my partner. This is not someone who works for me. That’s nobody who owes me anything. This is someone I have shaped that I am proud of. I look at her and go, yes this is my girl. This is really some kind of relationship that they have and what they have is very strong, they have a really great friendship. Martin and I were very careful to show it, because you have to love them together. You have to feel and know that there is history, right? The last thing you want to feel when looking at their relationship this way is that you don’t feel the story. You don’t feel like these two people have come together for many, many years. I think with them you feel it or I hope you do.
In the plot, a good part of the film takes place in Vietnam. What did it mean to you to bring the film there?
I wish more things were shot there. Unfortunately, they traveled to Vietnam and filmed Martin and our DP. In the end I couldn’t go there and Michael wasn’t there due to the pandemic. So we all had our plans to shoot in Eastern Europe, London and Asia, which became a no-go due to the events of the pandemic. So we had to climb even though we couldn’t get a whole crew there, I mean, of course we had a small crew doing certain things there, but we couldn’t get a hundred people there during a pandemic. It would have been a really bad decision. But I’m really happy to portray Vietnam in a film because it was a long time ago. Really the only films you see in Vietnam are war films.
You mentioned that you didn’t necessarily want to do an action movie next, but how can you resist with such a great cast? Now that that’s over, what do you want to do next as an actress?
I do it. I’m doing a comedy for Fox called Swiveling that starts next month. We do a cable run, like 10 episodes. We’re premiering in January and I’m working with this actress, Ginnifer Goodwin, and this other actress in Eliza Coupe. We just have so much fun. I mean you go to work and it’s not work. I would love to take a break from those very stressful big action films to hang out with some friends, have fun, and do some comedy. So I’m really happy about that. Then I guess I can’t really talk about it cinematically, but I hope I can combine the two genres if that makes sense.
Certainly. One of the most extraordinary things you did in your career was that you played in the video game Need for Speed: Undercover. It has such a cult following, so many people love this game. Was that a fun experience for you and would you want to make another video game in the future?
It was great fun. I’m not a gamer so I had no idea what this world was like. Just like EA introduced me to this whole world of their lineup. What we did then was we cut this little prank, this little movie into the video game. When you pass a level you will know what happened in the story. Even for them it was new to do this at all. So they had fun with it too. Yeah, I really liked it. I thought it was really fun. I don’t know if they still do that. Maybe you could tell me with video games, but I thought it was a cool experience. It was very unique and something I’ve ever done before.
Yes. They do a lot more mo-cap stuff now, so it evolved even more. Then my final question for you, this is such a fun action-packed movie and it gets even better when you watch it with others. You mentioned that the difficulties of the pandemic are affecting the shooting. How excited are you that it’s coming to theaters?
I can’t believe it, because of course we should be outside much earlier before summer. It was disappointing that we couldn’t make it and we had to push it. I mean, it was very brief at first, and then I knew better things were coming and that there would be a reason if we held up. I think we really did. That we can bring what our dream and vision was into the cinemas is really everything. I know Martin and I called about it. We were so, so happy. I mean, you really don’t want to work that hard and do something for the big screen that is never on the big screen. I think no matter how it goes, we’re so grateful that people will see it that way.