Elsa Pataky is no stranger to the action genre, so when the time came to audition for her first starring role as a badass hero she went looking for something "challenging".
The new Netflix action-thriller Interceptor - the majority of which the actress spends locked in a single room - appears to have more than met that requirement.
Pataky, 45, is in nearly every frame of the film and stars as Captain JJ Collins, a tough, world-weary army officer who must draw upon all her skills to defend the control room of a remote missile interceptor base.
Speaking to the Herald via Zoom, the actress breaks down the difficulties that come with filming nearly the entire movie in such an environment.
"It was challenging. For me, for the director, for the cast and for the tension of the film," revealed Pataky.
"We don't have that environment around us that can change and entertain the audience, so you have to create that tension in every second."
Action films traditionally utilise expansive sets and diverse environments, but this daring creative choice forces writer and director Matthew Reilly to double down on the suffocating tension of the story.
Interceptor is still filled with bombastic action, but it's clear Reilly wanted to focus on the cat-and-mouse game occurring between JJ and the main antagonist Alexander. At all costs, JJ must stop him from entering the control room, and much of the film's more psychological thrills derive from this battle of wills.
Pataky explains how the film's primary source of tension is "two characters who have to outmanoeuvre each other. He's smarter than she's smarter, what's he gonna do, now what's she gonna do...and now what?"
The isolated set also forces the character to improvise, with JJ grabbing tools from shelves and flipping off walls in a desperate attempt to even the odds against the waves of mercenary attackers.
When asked which was her favourite scene to shoot, Pataky mentions a moment when JJ is able to dismantle an opponent's gun and jam the barrel right into his eye socket.
"That moment was just so epic" she grins, "What do you do when a guy is using all of his strength? You outsmart him."
Unexpectedly, the film isn't all explosions, but also a surprisingly deep character study, with JJ's backstory playing into the film in key ways.
"It isn't just about the action." Pataky clarifies "It's about the story behind this woman. She had a life beforehand, and she's a woman who has had difficult experiences in life that made her who she is.
"Being in a situation like that and seeing how she reacts and her inner and outer strength, she doesn't want to give up and it's probably because of everything that happened to her in her life, which is great because it was a very complete, interesting story to tell even with all the action."
Pataky is completely convincing as a bona fide action hero, but she says that believability comes from lots of preparation.
"It was so challenging!" she laughs, "I trained every day learning about 800 different moves, and you can't miss one or you'll get lost."
The actress worked hard to memorise fight choreography, and learn military jargon in order to plausibly play a US army captain. Pataky admits her training wasn't "identical to what female army recruits undergo, but it was close as I could".
She lays out a brutal five-month-long training regime that included "lots of workouts and a strict diet. It wasn't just 'yes I know my lines', no I had much more going to work on."
However, Pataky says this extra work was intentional on her part. She recalls asking the producers if she could do as many of her own stunts as possible, saying she wanted to get the "experience" of embodying the badass role she'd always dreamed of.
"I tried to do as much as I could," she elaborates, "I said I would do all the fighting, except for the really dangerous stuff like going through glass where you could possibly hurt yourself more."
The film is the directorial debut of Australian author Matthew Reilly, who first rose to fame thanks to his New York Times bestselling action thriller novels.
When asked what it was like as a first-time action star, working with a first time director, Pataky called the working partnership "amazing".
"I couldn't be more surprised at the professionalism of Matt, he was so prepared," she enthusiastically exclaims. "He knew everything, he had answers for anything, he would come in every day with drawings of shots he wanted. It was really impressive, he created a really, good happy environment."
Pataky, who has been married to actor Chris Hemsworth for 10-years, says Hemsworth first encouraged her to go for the role. "He knew that I would enjoy it and it would take me away from the kids for a while so I could do something different. He supported me so much and taught me so much.
"He's the professional one in this kind of movie," she laughs.
The actress grew up watching action films, citing examples like Mad Max and Indiana Jones as huge inspirations in her childhood. And according to her, "every action movie is a step up, and we as audience members get more impressed by what these actors and directors can do".
So what's next for Pataky? Is this the start of a seasoned action star? According to the star, it's all about taking chances.
"You never know, this profession is like that you just never know when something like this will come into your hands."
Interceptor Releases June 3 on Netflix.