October 25th, 2011
09:22 AM ET
When British actress Hayley Atwell was cast as Chris Evans' love interest in "Captain America: The First Avenger," (out today on Blu-ray and DVD) her friends in the U.S. were overjoyed.
"They were like, 'oh my God, finally you’re getting out of a corset! You’re doing something we can relate to!'" she told CNN. "'Stop doing these adaptations of books, we want to see you get in there with a gun!'"
It was definitely quite a departure for the actress, who had been best known for "The Duchess" and "Brideshead Revisited." This time, she had a few action scenes, for which to prepare.
“I trained with an ex-Marine two months beforehand and he got me physically fit so I could do any of the stunts that were required," she said. "It was thrilling to be a part of that, and to be able to operate a machine gun. The power and responsibility that comes with that was a brand new challenge for me, I loved every bit of it and would definitely do it again."
She was honored to play Peggy, whom she described as Steve Rogers' "moral compass." She was also a woman in a position of power in the military during World War II, though that meant she was one of the few women on the set.
“I kind of felt quite genderless, I like male company anyway, I’m not particularly girly-girly," she said. "So I had a great time. Everyone was so competitive playing games on the iPad, that bonded us, during the hours of waiting around to film something. When things got too ‘testosterone,’ I would go back to the makeup trailer and have tea with the ladies in there, and have my feminine fix, so I think I balanced it pretty well."
One scene that was featured in many of the ads and trailers takes place just after Steve emerges from his pod, and Peggy momentarily reaches for his chest.
“Yeah that was the first time I had been that close to Chris’ body, the first time I’d seen it undressed, so it was an instinct of ‘oh my God, I just have to touch that, is it real?’ and it made it into the film," she explained. "And it also showed a glimpse of how Peggy is so British and proper and taking her job very seriously, but she can’t quite help grabbing that man boob when she sees it. So she’s got a little bit of sexiness to her."
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