If the 25-foot Great White shark in Jaws wasn’t enough to keep you out of the water, you’re about to meet one that’s three times the size in The Meg. Aussie star Ruby Rose survived to tell the tale.
The prehistoric monster shark known as ‘megalodon’ was believed to be extinct, until one turns up off the coast of China in The Meg – the new action-horror-thriller based on the 1997 novel by Steve Alten and featuring an international cast including Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Winston Chau and Cliff Curtis.
Australia’s own Ruby Rose also comes face to face with the meg, as part of a rescue team dispatched to save the crew of a sunken deep-sea submersible following a close encounter with the creature. Playing the sassy scientist and brilliant engineer Jaxx Herd, Rose says it was a role she was able to sink her teeth into.
“She’s a strong character and a bit of an outcast, and I appreciated her passion for the ocean. I also enjoyed working with the technology and computer programs Jaxx uses in the film.
I even changed up my tattoos for the character. I decided Jaxx would have tattoos, but they would be deeply rooted in her obsession with the ocean. I had tattoos made of an octopus, whale and shark. It brought her whole look and feeling together.”
The Melbourne-born actress, whose action credentials include xXx: Return of Xander Cage and John Wick: Chapter 2, was already familiar with the titular menace, having been obsessed with megalodons and dinosaurs as a child.
“I couldn’t fathom their size. I was always drawing them in school, and when I would do a classroom presentation, it was always about a megalodon. Also, ‘megalodon’ seemed like such a cool name for an animal.”
Rose describes working on The Meg as one of the most enjoyable experiences she’s had on a film.
“It was really special. For me, these kinds of films are the most enjoyable ones to work on. Being Australian, I love the water, the marine ecosystem – and sharks. It was fun filming in New Zealand, in the ocean, on a boat, and doing stunts, and working with a great cast.” A film of this scale also came with its own unique challenges, not least shooting for long periods in an aquatic environment.
“We were in the water for a long time, especially during the last week or two of production. I didn’t know how much more water I could take,” she laughs. “It was intense. But when we finally wrapped those scenes, I wanted to be back there in the water because it is exciting, despite the physical challenges of always being cold and wet. It helped a lot that we had a great crew and cast. I would go back into that water right now.
“We trained in an Olympic-sized pool with several diving boards at different heights above the water,” she continues. “We had to become stronger swimmers, swim in our clothing, and learn to dive. I had so much fun doing all the diving and jumping, that everyone quickly realised that I could easily handle those kinds of stunts, and I think I ended up doing more action than was initially planned for me.”
As for working with the Meg itself, a mostly CGI creation, Rose says that computer visualisations proved invaluable in providing context between the size of the meg and a boat or human.
“I also looked at drawings and photos from newspaper and magazine articles. The design team also created an animatronic shark – or about half a shark – including its head, tail, teeth and eyeball. It was pretty gruesome – and that head was huge. I didn’t want to be in the water with that shark, believe me.”
Fortunately, audiences will be able to get up close and personal with the monster meg from the safety of a dry cinema seat, with Rose promising a big action-thriller spectacle and popcorn movie.
“It also has some interesting things to say about marine life, the food chain, and the environment,” she adds. “So, along with all this epic entertainment, there’s a viewpoint about the ocean that will really resonate.”
The Meg is in cinemas on August 16.