Supermodel and actress Tanit Phoenix might be fairly new to the Hollywood spotlight, but she’s quickly becoming a name on everyone’s radar.
Originally from South Africa, Phoenix is on a short list of actresses for a future movie role as DC Comics super heroine Wonder Woman. Her name was also linked to rumors about being cast as Catwoman for “The Dark Knight Rises” before Anne Hathaway was officially announced as the character.
Currently, Phoenix, 30, is doing publicity for her most recent movie “Death Race 2,” which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 18. In the film, she plays Katrina Banks, an ex-military sniper who is sent to prison for killing a superior officer.
“Making this movie was sexy, dangerous and mysterious,” Phoenix told me during a phone interview. “You get to see what Katrina is all about when she pulls a machine gun off of a Mustang and blows up the car behind her.”
Phoenix also talks about holding her own with a mostly male cast and what it would be like to be cast as an iconic comic book character.
What led you to acting from modeling and how did you get involved with “Death Race 2?”
I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was six years old. It wasn’t an easy thing to do coming from South Africa. Over time, more films started shooting there. I started campaigning for bigger roles. That’s how I got the role in “Death Race 2.” They created my character by combining two other characters. I went into the audition really wanting this role.
What was it like on a set with a cast full of men and the testosterone levels flowing high?
It was easy! I grew up with boys. I was a tomboy. It was like walking onto a set that was already my home. When I was young my dad used to race cars. He was actually a professional skydiver so I’ve done it all – skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba diving, horse riding, Muay Thai. It’s all second nature to me.
So, getting physical for “Death Race 2” wasn’t difficult at all?
I know a lot of the stunt guys, so I got to work with them before going in to shoot my scenes. I know how to throw a punch. I’m a ballsy girl so it was easy for me. Whenever I say I’m a tomboy guys are like, “But you’re in a dress and high heels and you have make up on!” But that’s only when I’m in front on the camera. When I’m mountain climbing I’m more of a hippie.
How has transitioning from South Africa to the U.S. worked out for you so far?
Well, I’ve been here for only three months and I already booked a role on a new upcoming HBO series called “Femme Fatales” about women who kill men. I was told not to tell too many girls about that because they’d probably slap me around. I was very lucky to have booked something so fast. I found a job right away, so the transition was very easy.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m shooting a movie in London called “Latin Quarter.” It’s a story about Pablo Picasso when he was younger. I play a French aristocrat who gets between Picasso and his best friend. It’s a very dramatic character, so I’m excited.
It must also be really exciting to hear your name come up during conversations about which actress should be cast to play Wonder Woman. Is there truth to this?
Yes, there’s truth to the rumor. I went in to audition for Wonder Woman at Warner Bros. I’m keeping hope and maybe I will get involved in the project. She has a great mythology and would be an amazing character to play. Every girl dreams to have this role. Even being considered is an amazing feeling.