If you and Gina Carano are ever trapped in an octagon, take a moment to notice how beautiful this MMA star is—before she batters you into submission. But even if you never get that close, you’ll love watching the sexy Texan bust up a bunch of backstabbing government spooks in Steven Soderbergh’s action-packed Haywire, opening this weekend. Check out what our latest Made Babe has to say about fightin’, pursuin’ your passions… and kickin’ the crap out of Hollywood A-Listers.

MADE MAN: A lot of guys—and girls—are going to be motivated to get into MMA after seeing you in this film. Any advice for us?
GINA CARANO: Do it for the right reasons. If it’s in there you’ll find out about it, but do it because you’re passionate about it, but not because you’re trying to prove a point. It’s a really nice way to express yourself physically. It made me want to get up every single day and live instead of drink and waste my life. So many people don’t know what they want to do with their life, and this kind of workout gives you clarity and direction in figuring that out. Also, keep your hands up!

MM: Any other sports you recommend?
GC: Jujitsu or wrestling or boxing. Sometimes people are better with their hands than their feet.

MM: So many actresses look up to Sigourney Weaver or Linda Hamilton as the fighting tough women in movies. Who were your icons for getting into real-life fighting?
GC: It’s funny. I grew up on Anne of Green Gables and the earlier Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t really watch action films. Then I dated somebody who was a big fan of Bruce Lee. I know that sounds really weird coming from a tomboy, but I think I balanced myself out by watching those films. So, I didn’t really have somebody I was looking at to mimic in fighting.

MM: Where did your passion for martial arts come from?
GC: I think I was the son my dad never had. I have two beautiful sisters, both very thin and beautiful when we were back in high school. I was always the brute and the middle child, getting blamed for a lot of stuff. I got in street fights. And finally one day I was dating someone named Kevin Ross and he realized while we were drinking our 40s of Olde English that maybe this wasn’t the best lifestyle. He quit the next day and become sober for a year. He walked in to Master Toddy’s Muay Thai in Las Vegas, and I saw this huge transformation. So, I finally went in and I became completely addicted to something that made me want to live a healthy life. I just threw myself into it. I’m just a little bit of an extremist, I think.

MM: Did you have to alter your training to get ready for this film?
GC: Absolutely. They had me getting up at 5 o’clock and then I did three hours of stunts and then three hours of Mossad secret service training with guns and boot camp and getting yelled at, getting stalked and stalking other people. After that I did strength and conditioning. There wasn’t any acting training until probably the week before. I had the script with me and I just had so much anxiety about it. I was like, “I don’t even know what to do with this damn thing.” Finally the week before, they were like, “Alright, let’s try reading some lines with this acting coach.”

MM: What was it like to basically kick the crap out of Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender [above]?
GC: It was really a beautiful experience, and these guys made it ten times more of a beautiful experience than I could have imagined. Everybody around me on set was like, “It doesn’t usually go like this. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.” I loved every moment of it.

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