Even if you don’t her know name, you’ve probably seen Samantha Jo somewhere. As a martial artist, she competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics as part of the Canadian National Wushu Team. As a stuntwoman, she’s been in projects like SUCKER PUNCH and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. And as an actress, she appeared as Kitana in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY, and as the Kryptonian Car-Vex in MAN OF STEEL (which she also did stunt work for).

In less than two weeks, Jo will be seen again in WONDER WOMAN, the first live-action, female-led superhero film since 2005’s ELEKTRA. She’s playing the Amazon Euboea — a part she will reprise later this year in JUSTICE LEAGUE — and ComicsVerse spoke with Jo about the role, her training with the other Amazons, and her experience on the set of both DC Extended Universe films.   

Being Euboea

ComicsVerse: Being a huge DC fan, it’s incredibly exciting to be able to talk to you about your role in WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE. What can you tell us about the part?

Samantha Jo: [Laughs.] I’ve been getting that question a lot. I’m not always sure how much I can say. It’s always like walking a tightrope. But I think it’s pretty fair to say that I am an Amazon in the film, so my part primarily is in Themyscira. It involves a lot of training, a lot of physicality. I guess the things that you might expect from an Amazonian. If you’ve read all the comic books I’m sure you’re aware: female warriors and everything that that entails. I’m not sure what else I can say beyond that I’m Euboea and that I’m an Amazonian.

The Amazons out in force. | Facebook
The Amazons prepare for a clash with the world outside Themyscira. | Facebook

Becoming Euboea

CV: How did you get the role of Euboea in the first place? Were you on Warner Bros.’ contact list from when you worked on SUCKER PUNCH and MAN OF STEEL?

SJ: I’ve had the pleasure of working on Zack Snyder films before, so I guess the casting director that he primarily uses and some of the producers and a lot of the team involved put my name in so I got to audition for it. It was still kind of under wraps, like “Oh, you’re not supposed to know it’s WONDER WOMAN, but you probably know it’s for WONDER WOMAN.”

I went in and auditioned like everybody else. And thankfully I had a good standing relationship and they’d already seen so much of my physical work before that I definitely had that going for me. So all the stunt work I’m sure played a big part in helping secure those roles.

CV: WONDER WOMAN seems like a feature film that’s pretty physical for anyone who’s part of the cast. Was your preparation for the role any different from how you would typically prepare for stunt work or on any of your other shoots?

SJ: Yes, actually. It’s funny because I would have thought that doing stunt work, because it’s such a physical job, like that’s about as difficult as it’s going to get physically. But when I was there as an actress… it was so much harder.

I went to the gym probably ten times more. I think it’s because in stunt work you’re exercising and you’re conditioning and keeping your body strong and prepared. That’s kind of on you and on your own time, so I got to work out however I pleased and whatever suited me that day. But when I was on a program with the other Amazonians filming, Mark Twight was our trainer. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him before, too, but mostly watching him train the actors and then I’d go in and do a couple of workouts here and there. [Laughs.] It was very intense. It was one or two different sessions a day, on top of the horse riding and sessions with the stunt team, so it was a lot more physical activity than I would have thought.

And it was really mentally challenging. There were days where I’d go home and I’d just kind of lay on the floor once I got into the apartment and be like “Okay, I’m just going to lay here for five minutes and relax. And then I’d wake up three hours later and think, “Oh no! what happened?”

CV: Did you do any research to get into the head of the character?

SJ: At least in my case, I wasn’t given a whole lot of information about the script off the bat, so it really was up to me to do as much research as I could. I went back to comics that Euboea did appear in, and I tried to learn everything I could about her strengths, her weaknesses, her background. But when it came to the actual script, how that would factor in, I wasn’t really sure. I always just try to be as informed as I can, so that when I get pages I can do the best possible job and serve the story best I can.

RELATED: Before WONDER WOMAN hits theaters, catch up on the character’s history with our essential reading list!

How Jo’s Background in Stunt Work Factored In

CV: Going back to your work as a stuntwoman, how much did that inform your acting? Because I imagine that focusing so much on the physical side of things helps when you’re playing a Kryptonian or an Amazonian.

SJ: You’re very right. I think the main part that helped was the fact that I was so comfortable with all the physical work that I didn’t have to think about it anymore. So I can concentrate on emotionally how I’m feeling, or if there’s dialogue, or anything else that might be happening. It just frees up more space in my brain.

CV: Did you get a chance to perform some of your own stunts on WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE? Or more of your own stunts than you might have been able to do if you weren’t so experienced with stunt work?

SJ: I do think so. I think I was very fortunate. The second unit director, Damon Caro, was the stunt coordinator on SUCKER PUNCH, so he was very familiar with the work that I had done before because he’s the one who’d hired me. So they could give me opportunities that I don’t know if other actresses would have been given. I couldn’t say. But I’m so grateful that I did get to do some really cool action stuff that was actually me. It’s something that my mom can point at and be proud of. Because really everything I do is for my mom.

Samantha Jo - Wushu
Samantha Jo practicing wushu.

Experiences on Set

CV: What were your shooting experiences on WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE, on a Patty Jenkins set versus a Zack Snyder set, like?

SJ: It’s hard to compare because they were very different experiences, but one thing that I really enjoyed about Patty’s set was that it was so female-influenced. You know, there’s Patty Jenkins, there’s Robin Wright, there’s Connie Nielsen, there’s Gal. There are all these female powerhouses, so as a woman I felt that that was just awesome. Because who better to understand what you’re going through or what you might need in that moment. I really appreciated the sensitivity of Patty’s set. And there was just such a feeling of, “Yeah!” of, “We’re finally getting a female superhero!” Everybody was just so excited about it that it was contagious. Through the whole project, we just felt proud of what we were doing. I think that with anything we do in our lives, we just hope that at the end of the day we can feel proud of our choices.

Working with Zack Snyder, on the other hand, like I said before I’ve gotten the pleasure of working with him before, so it’s kind of like a feeling of a family, a home. You just end up knowing so many people, whether it’s past producers, set photographers, publicists. You see a lot of the same faces over and over, so when you see them more and you get to know these people and you become friends and really care about them. You always feel welcomed and comfortable. There’s always somebody that catches your eye for you to sit and chat with. It’s such a feeling of family there. By far I’ve had the most fun on his films, and I can’t thank that group enough.

READ: Want to learn about some of DC’s lesser known heroines? Here are the top five underrated female superheroes of the DC universe!

CV: I imagine that feeling was only amplified because you had some of the same cast and crew crossing over between WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE.

SJ: Oh yeah. Actually, I forgot to mention. SUCKER PUNCH was the first film I did for Zack Snyder, and I was only 18 at the time, so everybody really went out of their way to make me feel comfortable because I was just so young and I didn’t know anything. I had to be taught everything. I ended up meeting my now-husband on that film, so I think there’s a special place in my heart for his films because that’s where I fell in love.

CV: That’s awesome! That actually might answer my next question. You’ve now played an Edenian in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY, a Kryptonian in MAN OF STEEL, and an Amazonian, pretty exciting roles with a lot of mythology behind them. What’s been your favorite part so far?

SJ: Oh man.

CV: [Laughs.] If you can.

SJ: I don’t know if you can ever really answer that, but I have to say that being an Amazonian was pretty darn cool. I think that would have to be my favorite because I got to have two months of prep beforehand, to train with the other Amazons, and there was just this bonding that happened. I think it made me more proud to be Amazonian because I was with the other Amazons. I was very proud of everything we were doing and how everybody treated each other.

CV: It’s always really cool hearing about sets where all of the cast members have to train together. I know on FURY David Ayer had everyone go through this intense training regimen so that they had that sense of brotherhood and you could see it on screen, and that’s cool that that was pretty much the same case for you where it was two months of training with these people, so that when you got to the set, there was already a history there that you didn’t have to fake.

SJ: Exactly. I always think that the people you suffer with, you end up having this amazing bond with. There’s just a part of your heart that, you know, holds them just a little bit more dear to you.

Samantha Jo as Kitana in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY
Samantha Jo as the bladed-fan-wielding Kitana in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY | Machinima and Warner Bros. Digital

School or SUCKER PUNCH?

CV: I know there was an interview when you were doing the rounds for MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY where you talked about your stunt work as a natural progression from your martial arts training. Was there ever a moment where you seriously considered doing something else or where you were going to school for something else?

SJ: Oh yeah. That was happening right as I was graduating from high school, so I applied to all these different universities in Canada, and I got accepted. And it was a really big decision to go onto SUCKER PUNCH and to miss my graduation rather than stay and graduate with all of my other friends and then go off to university. Because SUCKER PUNCH was a seven-month job for me, so that would be missing a whole year of university, so there was a little bit of doubt, but I really feel like I’m lucky with my parents because my dad is not a stereotypical Chinese dad, and he was always so encouraging of me following my dreams and following my passion. Same with my mom. They knew that I wanted to be doing film work and I wanted to be a part of this scene, so they encouraged me and they said that I should just take a swing and go for it. School will always be there, but this chance might not. Funny enough, my parents were the ones who were like “Oh, forget about school. Go act! Go do stunts. Go have a dangerous job.”

Button Mashing All the Way

CV: My final question is perhaps my most important one. You told GeekScape in 2013 that you were “no good at games,” referencing that you love Mortal Kombat but more often than not resort to button mashing. Has that changed at all since then?

SJ: Ummm… no. [Laughs.] I learned a few specialty movements on Mortal Kombat because I had to play live a couple times. I was just so embarrassed at how badly I got owned during the press tour, so I learned a few specialty movements. But when it comes to any other game, and when I’m not as Kitana, button mashing all the way. I just get all emotional and then rubber thumb tabs fly off the remote.

CV: People shouldn’t expect you to play as anyone other than Kitana.

SJ: That’s true. Have that going for me.

CV: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

You can follow Samantha Jo on Twitter and Facebook.

This interview has been edited for concision and clarity, and questions have been updated and reordered and slightly, for your enjoyment. The phone conversation took place in March, before positive early reactions to WONDER WOMAN were posted on social media, and before news hit that Zack Snyder would be stepping away from JUSTICE LEAGUE to deal with a family tragedy. Our thoughts go out to the Snyder family and friends.

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