By JOSHUA “PROMETHEUS” SCAFIDI
In honor of the Netflix premiere of ARMY OF THE DEAD, the highly anticipated film from Zack Snyder, we had the opportunity to chat with one of the stars of the film, Samantha Win, also known as Samantha Jo. Best known for her role as Euboea in the DCEU films, Wonder Woman and Justice League, Win is an actress, former stuntwoman, and decorated martial artist. Below, she tells us all about her badass character, her multi-generational martial arts heritage, and what it’s like to be a part of the Snyder moviemaking “family.”
ARMY OF THE DEAD is finally here! You play a character named “Chambers” in the film. What can you tell us, without spoiling too much, of course?
What if I just gave all spoilers just now. That would be terrible, the whole movie! [Laughs] I play Chambers, who is the ride-or-die buddy of another character. Our characters come from the street; we aren’t part of the original group of mercenaries. So, we’re kind of our own friendship, and our own team in and of itself. I like to think that my character is a tough, modern woman. I feel like, nowadays, with mindsets that are current and popular, my character will resonate with a lot of people. I’m excited to see everyone’s reaction to it! That’s probably as much as I should say, without spoiling it.
What attracted you to the role? How did you get involved?
Of course, the first thing that would attract me to it is that I know it’s a Zack Snyder movie and I know what it’s like working on his sets. It’s like one big happy family! I would never want to not work on one of his films. So, that was all I kind of needed to say yes. Aside from that, the childhood part of me – who am I kidding – the adult part of me saw “zombies” and went apeshit. Who doesn’t want to work on a zombie film? Then you throw in Dave Bautista and weapons, and Las Vegas, and the international cast that we have, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be a part of it!
It does have an awesome cast. What did you guys do to keep it lighthearted on set? You’ve got all the extras, and they’re done up as zombies, but are you guys talking to them, and joking around?
Oh, for sure. There is zombie makeup but it’s people like “Josh, Natalie, Kelly…” they’re regular people and they have names, so you have conversations with them and joke around. It’s funny, you would think, “What do you do to keep it fun?” Because it’s zombies, but I think the nature of moviemaking is just so funny. Nothing is real, it’s harder to ground yourself and not laugh in every take, instead of trying to do the opposite. I think being around zombies, in Las Vegas costumes specifically, built comedy into the story.
The whole Las Vegas thing is a huge part of the film.
You can see it in the trailer. An Elvis zombie, you can see showgirl zombies. So, you take that and let your mind wander for a bit and I’m sure you can think of some fun sequences that may or may not happen.
Like, Zombie Tiger?
I saw that and I said, “I’m all in!”
Yeah, that seems to be the general reaction to it, so that was exciting. Even on the day that we found out that there was going to be a zombie tiger, I guess, conceptually it was really cool, but again, it’s movie-making. So, on the day, it was just a guy on top of a car going “Grrrr!” That was our tiger while we were filming. We didn’t have to try too hard to have a good laugh.
Are you a fan of the horror genre?
Oh yeah. I have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering plots of movies that I’ve seen a while back, but the horror genre in general, yes. I am in the theatres for every horror movie that comes out, I love it. I’m a thrill person, I guess that shows. I have a stunt background. So, anything to get my adrenaline pumping, I am all about.
Speaking of your stunt background, how did you get into stunts and martial arts?
Well, my mom was a blackbelt in Jiu-jitsu. When I was four years old, and my brothers were four years old, we all had to join Jiu-jitsu. That was just the family rule. You do it until you get your junior blackbelt, and then you’re allowed to stop and take up a different hobby or you can keep going if that’s what you choose. I was born into it because of my mom, but then I loved it so much I wanted to keep it going, and I switched to a different type of martial art, Wushu, to keep learning new things. That’s where I got very competitive and the obsessive part of me wouldn’t stop until I felt like I had done everything I possibly could have in that world and there was nowhere left to compete, nothing left to do.
At that point, I realized I should probably keep going in life and see what the next adventure is. Which is how I transitioned into stunts. Luckily, in the stunt world, a lot of coordinators find new talent by looking at pools of athletes in relevant careers like martial arts, or motorcycle racing, or high divers. They find people from areas like that, and that’s kind of how you get your foot in the door. So, that’s what it was for me. Because of my Olympic and wushu background, I was reached out to and it was the offer of a lifetime. The first really big film I worked on was Sucker Punch, which is a Zack Snyder film, and Damon Caro was the stunt coordinator who hired me. He is still working with us on ARMY OF THE DEAD, as well. So, I found my family very quickly.
I wanted to circle back to something you said with Zack Snyder and how on the set it’s like a big family. You’re not the first person to say that. What is it about him that inspires this feeling?
I think he’s just such a normal caring person, that you can relate to him on that kind of personal, normal level. That, and the fact that it’s his own words, calling [us] his family. It gives you an immediate sense of feeling welcomed because you’re not weird for thinking that – he’s the one who says it very openly. This is his film family, and we’re all friends and family on set. He can be found at lunch playing catch with people from the electrical department, or the wardrobe department. Everyone is equal, and it’s about your personality and who you are. It’s not anything to do with hierarchy, or how much anybody gets paid.
I recently worked with his daughter on a photo shoot, too. Calling us the film family is something that I feel like we all say in interviews, but we don’t actually talk about in person all that much. So, when I was talking with his daughter, I felt so shy talking about it, because she’s real family. But she was saying, “Everyone is family, what are you talking about?” It very much is the [Snyder] Family mindset. The whole family is so nice and welcoming and loves everybody. So, I think it’s impossible to not feel that level of kinship.
Some might remember you from Mortal Kombat: Legacy II as Kitana…
(Laughs) Yeah, that was a while ago now.
With the new reboot being such a hit, would you ever consider returning to the series?
Not even a second thought, huh?
I mean, I’ve been a Mortal Kombat fan since I was a kid, and at the time when I got the role, I was so excited about it. Then I was very proud of the reception it got. The director, Kevin Tancharoen, did such an amazing job that even a decade later I feel very proud of the project. If I ever got the chance to be a part of that franchise again, it would be an easy answer. It’s a legendary franchise and an iconic character who is classy, but tough, and everybody loves her.
She was one of my favorite characters.
Me too! I feel like you liked Mileena or Kitana. I was always on the goodie-two-shoes side of things.
It’s always one or the other. I like Scorpion, myself.
Scorpion versus Sub-Zero is like the male equivalent of Kitana versus Mileena! Shows what kind of personality you are in a weird way. [Laughs]
I have to ask, is David Bautista as funny in person?
He’s hilarious. Not like Guardians of the Galaxy hilarious, because he’s an intellect, and he’s a very intelligent person. So, he has very smart, witty humor. But its’ also very true that he is the gentle giant. He looks so big and intimidating with his tattoos and his physique, but he is the kindest, sweetest, most gentle but strong leader we could have hoped for. He really made the experience what it was. Because it’s true; it comes from the top down. You have Zack making a family environment and Dave who is this grounded, levelheaded person who sets the tone for the cast. I think our cast really loved each other, which made the experience so beautiful.
What do you have coming up next, Samantha?
I do have a new project coming out called Loss Prevention, and it will be the directorial debut of Houston Yang, who is one to watch out for! I posted a little about it on my Instagram recently and people were saying it was in the vein of Mad Max. I have these cool shoulder tattoos and I’m riding on top of a vehicle chasing after a drone, and there’s another camera car leading us. So, it’s going to be action-packed and high production value, and I think a lot of fun for people to see!
Now, when you say it was you on top of a car, you do stunts, so it is actually you on top of the car…
Yeah, I climb through the window and then on top of the Jaguar and go to work! [Laughs]
What is the craziest stunt you’ve ever had to perform?
It’s so hard to think because there are stunts that are technically difficult, they’re tricky to get when it comes to the timing with the camera and your body movement. But, when it comes to crazy, I’d have to say it was the first stunt I ever did. It was because it was my first and I was seventeen years old, and my dad was on set with me because I was underage. So, he got to witness everything.
I showed up to work on my first day on this big project, in a new environment, I didn’t know anyone, and I learned that I would have to get ratcheted, which is an air pressure machine that is used to launch you very far and very high. So, I had to get ratcheted, and they just push a button, and it shoots [me], like twenty to thirty feet over some fire, and then hit a car, chip off of the car, and land in this puddle in agonizing pain. When I showed up to work and found out that’s what I would be doing, I think that was my craziest day because I was woefully underprepared.
I also just released a new thriller, a short film called Unwelcome. It’s a hard one to talk about because there’s a very specific twist where everything kind of changes, so I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a feminist thriller with a very fun twist to it. I think anyone who is into horror culture will appreciate it. It’s on YouTube and it’s also released through Vero, which is where you’ll find the highest quality [copy] of it.
You can see Samantha in Zack Snyder’s, Army of the Dead, available now, exclusively on Netflix. Read our review here.