By: Donna Freydkin
You know it when you feel it.
The first time Paula Patton laid eyes on Travis Fimmel, the star of "Vikings" who was slated to play the lead in "Warcraft," she felt that tingle.
"Absolutely we had chemistry. It felt like he was somebody I must have known in a previous life. We had a comfort straight away. He's not a talker. I knew without words that we had a connection," says Patton, who plays a slave-turned-warrior in the fantasy epic based on the hugely popular multiplayer online role-playing game, opening Friday.
Fimmel plays Sir Anduin Lothar, the military commander of the kingdom of Stormwind. The blue-chip cast, which also includes Toby Kebbell, Rob Kazinsky and Ben Foster, got along like gangbusters. That was fortuitous, given that Patton's role, as a fighter who is torn between her loyalties to humans and orcs, was brutal, in the most physical sense.
Getting in shape to believably play the fierce Garona Halforcen took work. A lot of work. "It was two and a half hours a day, six days a week. It was a lot. It's also great when you're thinking of taking on a character and you have to go through these phases," says Patton.
Working through the pain built character. "You have to eat to work out. Your body wants sugar. But you can't have it. When I got past it, I realized it was starting to help me with the character. Having those horns, I loved it."
The film changed her life in numerous ways, says Patton, who's gregarious and a hugger. She became single right when the script landed in her lap.
"Because I had gotten separated from my husband -- this movie changed so much of my life. What they asked of me and what I got to learn -- I got in touch with the idea of why I wanted to be an actor. I love to change. That was big for me. Since then, my life has changed and my outlook has changed. It stands as that moment in time when things went in a different direction." she says.
It also made her appreciate why she became an actor in the first place: her love of losing herself in an alternate world. "It's why you want to watch a film like this. You leave your reality behind," says Patton.
Of course, she jokes, "there's also a bottle of wine," but not when you're in hard-core training.
Ultimately, says Patton, "the physical affected my internal self. You certainly feel stronger. There's something about pushing through the pain part."
So does her son Julian appreciate that mom is in a would-be blockbuster, the film take of a game played by millions worldwide? "I don't know. We'll see. I haven't thought about that. When you have a six year old, they still want to cuddle with you. You just need to play. They love it," says Patton.