USMagazine, Friday, January 20, 2012, 1:31pm (PST)
Watch out, Angelina Jolie: There's a new female big screen action star in town and her name is Gina Carano.
Featured in the stylish thriller Haywire (out Friday), Carano kicks butt and takes names as gun-toting special-ops agent Mallory and goes mano a mano with the likes of Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender.
But just who is this retired martial artist turned actress? Us Weekly uncovers 5 things you didn't know about 29-year-old Carano.
1. She's not the person to cross in a dark alley. A retired mixed martial artist, Carano was once the No. 3-ranked 145 lb. female fighter in the world according to Unified Women's MMA Rankings. How'd she get involved in the sport? "I dated someone who became a fighter, and I became addicted, too!" she tells Us.
2. Carano may clean up nicely, but she's got a sassy bad-girl streak when it counts. "Growing up [in Las Vegas], I got in a lot of street fights. I was the son my father never had," jokes the star.
3. You may not know her name, but her face should look a little familiar. In 2005, Carano starred in the MMA cult film Ring Girls, and three years later showed off her skills under the pseudonym Crush on NBC's American Gladiators. "It's really nice to represent my sport," she has said. "That's my original love, and it's a blessing to represent the people of it because they're good people."
4. Despite her background, she's actually somewhat of a girlie girl -- at least as far as her film tastes are concerned. "I didn't really watch action films growing up! I grew up on stuff like Anne of Green Gables -- that was more when I was in elementary school. It was all I ever watched," she says. "My friends would come over and be like, "No, Gina, not again!" And Pride and Prejudice. I wore those VHS cassettes out! I loved that story."
5. She doesn't quite get her sex symbol status. "All the attention has helped me, but it's also hurt me," Carano reasoned. "Sometimes, you get portrayed the way you don't want to be portrayed. People start thinking about you a certain way. I'm like, 'What's everybody talking about with this sex appeal thing?' I don't get it. I'm not that way. I want people to see me for who I am and not for how someone else is trying to promote me. I don't mind answering any questions, because I'm not just a fighter. I'm a lot more than that."