When The Observer saw Gina Carano yesterday evening, she was entirely different than we remembered her. Having known her as “Crush,” that fearsomely buff MMA champ on NBC’s masochistic macho game show American Gladiators, we were surprised to see her in a tight-fitting black dress and blazer. Although we expected to look like, well, a gladiator in a dress, Ms. Carano carried herself with poise and confidence.
A wide range of celebrities, co-stars and notables had turned turned out to support Ms. Carano at the Cinema Society/ Blackberry sponsored screening of Haywire, a new espionage thriller. While green on the acting scene, (Haywire marks her debut) Ms. Carano seemed grateful but not overwhelmed as the likes of Ewan McGregor, Grace Coddington, Elizabeth Banks, Debbie Harry, Shala Monroque, Justin Bartha and Blake Lively congratulated her after posing for photos on the red carpet. We asked her if it was difficult playing a convincing female action star. “I don’t think in my situation it is,” she said. “I grew up in gyms all over Las Vegas and I’ve been around nothing but men,” she said, speaking quietly, blessedly free of the all-too-familiar jaded-actress affect.
In a world where action flicks are a dime a dozen (with wildly varying results at the box office), what distinguished Haywire, we wondered. “First of all, it’s directed by Stephen Soderbergh, and that’s everything. He’s an incredible director. He stays true to his artistic vision, and he kind of just brought me along for the ride,” she said, humbly.
While the film could have easily been a tired spy flick, Ms. Carano brought a refreshing dose of athletic realism to the lead character, and Mr. Soderbergh’s distinctive hand made the movie worth watching.
After the movie, guests spilled out of the theater and hopped in their awaiting town cars. Though the after party was just a few blocks away, few were willing to brave the cold. Entering new LES nocturnal destination Sons of Essex, we were met with four burly bodyguards in what appeared to be a small bakery or bodega. A discreet door at the back was opened (yes, again) and The Observer was led into a sprawling bar with low wooden ceilings. We followed Stefano Tonchi and David Maupin to the bar and ordered a glass of champagne.
Much to our delight, nineties music prevailed throughout the evening. A flaxen haired skater-esque DJ wearing some sort of graphic T-shirt (the words of which we didn’t endeavor too decipher) played everything from “Ghetto Superstar” to “Can I Kick It” over comfortably subdued speakers as guests enjoyed their canapés and cocktails. After engaging in a lively discussion about education and religion with Tony Danza, The Observer thought we spotted Larry Birkhead across the room in a pink shirt. Terribly excited, we immediately decided to ask him about Dannielynn, the $89 million he will never see, and his fated romance with Anna Nicole. Asking a fellow reveler how we should make our approach, we learned the pink-shirted gentleman was in fact Aaron Carter. Sigh.
Our pseudo-celebrity radar failing, The Observer collected our coat and headed home.