Underworld's Rhona Mitra endured rain, horses and blinding contact lenses

Rhona Mitra, star of the upcoming Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, told SCI FI Wire that she endured a number of intense physical challenges while shooting the latest installment of the popular fantasy series.

"It wasn't more demanding than Doomsday," Mitra admitted in an exclusive interview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention last week. "I did so much in that, and I did all of my own stunts, and it was continuous. But there were elements that made it awkward."

In Lycans, Mitra plays Sonja, a 12th-century vampire whose combative interactions with her father, Viktor (Bill Nighy), provide the basis for the relationship between Viktor and Kate Beckinsale's Selene in the two previous Underworld movies. Mitra said that their confrontations were often further complicated by the technical demands of the film. "There was a sword fight with Bill Nighy, and we had to do it in the rain," she said. "It's really a full standoff, intensely choreographed scene between he and I, and the rain with contact lenses and also not being able to change your outfit because we only had one for this day."

Mitra added: "[We were] standing in a wet outfit all day and do the fight again and again with pouring rain coming down on you. Contact lenses, when they get wet, disappear into the back of your head, which looks kind of trippy, but it's also a nightmare, because it really hurts."

Mitra said her costume became an obstacle in several scenes. "I've been riding a horse since I was little," she said. "The horse had all of his armor on, so usually you communicate with a horse through the reins, but I couldn't get through the armor. So I was talking Chinese, and the horse was hearing French. There's a beautiful rear that I have to do, and getting the horse to rear, and I can't see anything at all because of the contact lenses."

Mitra said that her enthusiasm never waned no matter how tough the shoot became. "None of that ever dampens anything I do," Mitra said. "I actually enjoy all of that stuff. Even if it's on the 15th hour of the day, and I'm dripping in my trailer waiting for the next scene, you've got to laugh at it. You definitely get to the point where you're like, 'I physically can't do this anymore, because there's something that's holding me back,' but I wouldn't be in South Africa for seven months taking on a role in a film [Doomsday] where the script wasn't great. But the character and what was involved was exactly what we're talking about."

Mitra added: "It was a little bit rocky, but we managed to make it work." Underworld: Rise of the Lycans opens on Jan. 23.

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