When The Last Stand opens in theaters this weekend, the world will at long last see the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a starring role. Excluding cameos and a supporting role in last summer’s The Expendables 2, Arnold hasn’t had top billing in any film since the summer of 2003 when Terminator 3 hit theaters. When the nearly decade-long hiatus comes to an end on Friday, he’ll be battling Mexican drug lords in a Texas border town, along with the help of deputy Sarah Torrance, played by Jaimie Alexander. She recently took time out from shooting Thor: The Dark World—in which she plays Sif—to chat with Muscle & Fitness.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character in The Last Stand
Jai mie Alexander: I play deputy Sarah Torrance. She loves the small town that she’s from. It has all the people she loves, especially Arnold’s character, and so she joins him in the fight against the drug cartel leader, who is trying to cross the Mexican border through their town. 

What was it like to work on a movie with Arnold? 
I had a great time. It’s one of the most favorite projects I’ve ever worked on. It was so much fun. Everyone was in good spirits every day. Arnold is extremely funny and such a hard worker. He pulled some really long hours with us and never complained once. He kept everyone laughing and joking around. The movie itself was physically strenuous and tough, but it was so worth it. 

You’ve done a bunch of big projects, but was it a bit surreal to film with a man who you’ve seen a million times on TV growing up? 
Yeah, it’s very surreal to be in a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I have four brothers and as soon as they found out they were like, “Can we please come and visit you? Can he sign my True Lies DVD?” They were so excited, just like I was, because I grew up watching him in everything from True Lies, to Kindergarten Cop, to Terminator. There are just so many good films that he’s done, and he’s an icon. For Christmas, he got me one of these Tank watches. They’re massive; I could wear one on my leg. I said, “Arnold, man, I really want one of those for Christmas.” And sure enough, Christmas day, at my parents’ house in Texas, one shows up. He’s just a really lovely man. He never forgot, and that was two months after we stopped filming. My brothers were very jealous. 

Do you have a favorite Arnold movie? 
There are so many. I don’t want to be cliché and say True Lies, but it’s one of my all-time favorite movies in general. So I’d have to say that, but after meeting him and working with him and knowing him, I’d have to say it’s now a close tie withKindergarten Cop only because he’s really goofy in person. He’s really funny. He’s got the most weird sense of humor I’ve ever experienced with anyone. It’s his happy spirit that I really enjoy. Now when I see Kindergarten Cop on television, it makes me go, “Oh yeah, I can see him doing that.” Especially the scenes with the kids. 

Was he playing pranks on set?
He would tease me because I would punch him in the arm or be kind of rough with him sometimes. And he’d say, “Why don’t you be a lady?” Very much teasing me. He would joke around and say, “I’m going to get you a nice pair of high heels,” or, “Let’s put some curl in your hair.” And he was teasing because I know he really enjoyed my spunky tomboy personality. It’s all very sweet like your dad would do. 

You played the character Sif in the first Thor movie and you’re back for the second. Will we get to see you expand your role a bit? 
In the new film, a lot of it takes place in Asgard. You pretty much get to experience Asgard for almost the entire film. You get to know the people of Asgard and what our realm is like, which is really neat. And we get to explore the Thor-Sif relationship more than we did in the first film, which is great for me. And there’s a lot of superhero ass-kicking fun. I do feel that this film has a darker element than the first film. The introduction of all these characters in the first one could get a little hokey at times; this one feels a little bit more serious. You learn how much more Sif is willing to sacrifice for his happiness. That’s a huge element for my character. You get to see what kind of woman/goddess she really is. It’s a powerful character to play and I think she’s really well written in this film.

NEXT: What kind of physique turns Jaimie on? >>


The training for these action movies, have you picked up a lot of tricks for your own training? 
In the first Thor, I did your basic superset training with weights and then I would jump rope in-between sets to spike my heart rate. There’s something to be said for just training old school. There’s a reason people still do it—because it works. Now, because I have that knowledge, I’ve experimented with Pilates, swimming, a little bit of yoga to make sure I’m flexible… In the first movie I was 20 pounds heavier. I needed to lose a little bit of weight to fit into all the costumes. I was pretty new to fitness. Even though I wrestled in high school, there was a good block of years in my 20s where I just sat around and didn’t do shit. 

Where did you wrestle? 
Grapevine, TX. It started out as a bet, but I stuck with it after I got the school board to approve it. I found out that a bunch of other schools in Texas had female wrestlers. And in other states it was big. So I thought it would be a cool way to learn self-defense. … There’s a discipline it teaches you and it builds your confidence. That’s why I think school sports are so important. 

Did you wrestle only girls, or guys, too?
In the beginning I trained with the guys. We couldn’t really do hands-on training because it was frowned upon at my school. I thought that was bullshit. Girls are playing football; they’re not going to wait around for a whole female football team to show up. If they want to do something, let them do it. If a guy wants to join the dance team, then so be it. But I did wrestle some boys. It was frustrating because I would often have to wrestle up to someone 20 pounds heavier, or have someone wrestle up to me because I wrestled at 128 pounds and I was often forfeited against because there aren’t many people at that weight… I got a scholarship offer to Iowa State, but I wound up going off to become an actress instead. 

Have you maintained the weight loss from the first Thor?
I think I’m kind of dense, muscle-wise. Because it didn’t change my size a whole lot. I was 150 pounds at 5’9”, and for me that’s really out of shape. As soon as I started doing stunt training, it started to come off. I didn’t change much with my diet. I wasn’t sitting around eating Oreos, but I didn’t deprive myself of stuff. I was filming for eight hours a day and training for two; I couldn’t keep the weight on. In the middle of the film, the director, Kenneth Branagh, came to me and said, “You’ve got to stop working out because you’re getting too thin.” My weight was fluctuating every week depending on water. 

What would be your body-type preference in a guy? Schwarzenegger-sized? Thor-sized? Fitness-model sized?
You know, I like a man who’s taller than I am. I’m 5’9” so in heels I can be quite a giant. Mainly it’s for them because I find that men who are shorter than me get a complex because I’m quite confident in myself as well. I do want someone who looks after their health because it’s important, not so much aesthetically, but for your heart and well-being. I want them to be around for a long time. I’d say smaller than Arnold and Chris, muscle-wise, because that’s a hell of a lot of meat. Somebody that’s healthy for their body shape. That’s a wide range of people, I know.

What is the all-time dumbest thing a guy ever did to get your attention? 
I had a guy spill a drink on me once. That was a real dick move, because if a girl’s going to go out and get dressed up—and I usually just wear ripped up jeans and stuff—but that particularly evening I said, “I can be a little girly tonight,” so I dressed up. So the guy spilled his drink on me and offered to pay for my dry cleaning. I guess he was thinking, “Oh, that way I can get her number and keep in contact with her.” I was like, “You’re a twat. I’ve got it. No problem.” He was so obvious. He totally chucked his drink on me. He’s lucky I didn’t punch him. 

What superhero characteristics are you looking for in a man? 
I love humor, and I love the funny superheroes. Also, trying to do the right thing—that sort of moral compass in a superhero, standing up for the underdog. That’s probably the biggest thing. 

Anything else you want to share with the readers?
People always ask me, “What kind of inexpensive, portable thing can I use to take anywhere to work out with?” and I say the TRX is probably the best bet. I don’t have any kind of endorsement deal with them, but I’ve been using it a lot and it really helped me recover from injury. You can take it anywhere and just throw it on a tree branch. I get asked so much, and that’s the best thing. Get a TRX if you can. 

The Last Stand hits theaters on Friday, January 18. Follow Jaimie on Twitter: @JaimieAlexander