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Adrianne Palicki loves being locked, loaded as Lady Jaye in 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'

Published On: Jul 30 2013 02:11:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 30 2013 03:34:34 PM CDT
Adrianne Palicki in 'GI Joe Retaliation inset GI Joe Lady Jaye figure

Paramount Home Media Distribution (inset: Hasbro)

Adrianne Palicki in "GI Joe Retaliation" (inset Palicki's Lady Jaye G.I. Joe action figure).

Not all little girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls.

For Adrianne Palicki, it was Barbies and G.I. Joes, which probably explains why the former "Friday Night Lights" stunner is locked and loaded as Lady Jaye in "G.I. Retaliation" -- director Jon M. Chu's sequel to "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" -- which makes its way onto Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday (Paramount Home Media Distribution).

A proud native of Toledo, Ohio, the 30-year-old Palicki told me in an interview Monday that her fascination with G.I. Joe began as a little girl.

"I have a big brother who is my best friend and I don't know how he forgave me, but I used to steal his G.I. Joes and play with them," Palicki fondly recalled. "And now, for my birthday this year, he gave me a really cool gift -- he found original Jinx and Lady Jaye action figures and gave them too me. It was awesome, because those are the ones I used to steal from him and play with."

These days, Palicki said she's been blessed to have the opportunity to play with some real life-sized action figures -- including Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis -- in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation."

"Honestly, it's so crazy. I met Dwayne before we started shooting and we trained together. He couldn't be more of down-to-earth person," Palicki said. "Other than the fact that he's this ginormous person, you forget that he's this entity. He couldn't be more giving. He was rolling around on the floor with us in rehearsals with Jon. It was him, D.J. Catrona and I getting crazy."

Palicki admitted that it was hard to shake the image Willis and his role in "Die Hard," when he came aboard the production to play the pivotal supporting role of Gen. Joe Colton.

"Bruce came in half way through, and we went to dinner before we started shooting," Palicki remembered. "I was sitting there, thinking, 'This is so surreal. I am sitting across from John McClane.' First all, he was one of my first crushes on the planet, and second, he couldn't be a cooler person. I did eventually forget I was working with these guys when we started shooting, until all of a sudden Bruce would shoot a look and I'd think, 'Oh my God, that was "Die Hard." He did the squinty-eyed thing.'"

Only a handful of major cast members return from the first "G.I. Joe" film for "G.I. Joe Retaliation" -- Duke (Channing Tatum), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and White Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) -- which introduces us to a new core cast including Palicki, Johnson (who plays Roadblock) and D.J. Catrona (Flint).

Picking up on the story set up at the end of "The Rise of Cobra," the new "G.I. Joe" finds a scaled-back group of Joes trying to stop a plan by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) -- who is masquerading as the U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce) -- to trick superpowers around the world into a trap that cause a global disaster and lead to domination by COBRA.

Since "G.I. Joe" has such an enormous presence in popular culture, Palicki said she knew going in that there would be pressure by the fan base concerning the role. Thankfully, the actor said, she's been down that road and taken a few lumps before.

"I've done quite a few comic book adaptations, and the hardest one for me was (the 2011 TV pilot for) 'Wonder Woman.' That was a very big thing, and there was a very specific way fans wanted to see her," Palicki recalled. "I thought though, 'If I don't play it the way I see the character, then I'm not acting and I'm also going to not deliver in a way people can get excited about.' There are too many people with too many ideas of what the character should be."

The key, Palicki said, with "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," was approaching the film with a balance in mind.

"I think all of felt that we have to go in and be true to the character as much as possible, but we have to put our own spin on it, because otherwise, we're just playing the same character over and over again," Palicki said.

Taking risks

Chu, along with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, make it very clear from the beginning of "Retaliation" that are willing to shake up the G.I. Joe universe, and Palicki said she couldn't have been more thrilled that they did.

"I have to say one of the things that drew me to the script was that one of the main characters dies within the first 10 pages -- I was shocked," Palicki explained. "But when I was talking to Lorenzo, he told me that, 'It allows the audience to be prepared for the fact that anything's possible. At that point, anybody in the entire story can die.' I think it's a really cool thing because of knowing what the outcome is going to be, you're instead sitting on the edge of your seat the entire time. You don't know if you can get attached to that person because they might actually die by the end of the movie."

Thankfully, Palicki survives "G.I. Joe Retaliation," and she confirmed that she is returning for another, yet-to-be titled "G.I. Joe" sequel. And while she can't share any details of the new film, her character will live on in the meantime in the form of her own Lady Jaye action figure, which Hasbro produced for the movie line.

And who knows? Maybe that figure can inspire girls much in the years she was inspired all those years ago.

"It's funny, a lot of my friends used to laugh at me, saying, 'Most actors throughout their careers feel like they'll be most fulfilled if they get an Oscar, but you're the kind of person who will be most fulfilled when you get an action figure,'" Palicki enthused. "Now I have an action figure, and it's pretty bad-a--. It's like my life is almost complete now."

The big question is, now that Palicki has her figure, does she feel like standing up at a podium, and boasting like those people who finally win that Oscar?

"No, because I'm not an a------," Palicki said, laughing. "I might have done it in the mirror, but that's it."

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