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Gina Carano is a relative newbie to Hollywood, but she’s already hanging in good company. The actress, who was cast as special operative and former Marine, Mallory Kane, in Steven Soderbergh‘s upcoming action thriller, Haywire (coming to theaters in January 2012), will share the big screen with many of Tinseltown’s most A-list names: Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas to name a few.
But, just who is Carano? Here are five facts you should know about the burgeoning star.
1. She is a Mixed Martial Arts champion. Carano, who is an expert in the sport of Muay Thai (Thailand’s combat style), participated in the first-ever MMA fight in Las Vegas in 2006. She beat her opponent Rosi Sexton in the second round.
2. Athleticism is in her blood. Carano, who was born in Dallas County, Texas, is the daughter of Glenn Carano, the Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback from 1977-1983 and the United States Football League Pittsburg Mauler’s starter in 1984, their only year of operation.
3. She goes by another name: Crush. The fighter has appeared on NBC’s American Gladiators under the pseudonym. She was also featured in the show’s 2008 workout video alongside fellow Gladiators Jet, Titan, Wolf, Phoenix and Toa.
4. Steven Soderbergh cast her in Haywire after seeing her in a match. “I’ve never seen someone like her fight — in a cage,” the director has said of watching one of her MMA bouts on TV. When they later met in 2009, Carano still had a black eye from a fight she’d just lost, but that didn’t deter the director from casting her. “It was the time of my life,” she has said of appearing in the film.
5. Co-star Channing Tatum had a hard time hitting her in the film. “They she called me the female P word, and then I had to, for my manity,” the actor has said. “I hit her and she hit me back twice as hard. Then I didn’t want to hit her anymore.”
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