Studio head: Ronda Rousey’s “Mile 22” role reduced to action-focus to not “carry any undue acting weight”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Ronda Rousey (photo credit Jason da Silva © USA Today Sports)

Ronda Rousey’s first chance at a star turn in Hollywood was supposed to be the film Mile 22. The then-UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion had signed on for the lead female role in the film, alongside Iko Uwais, star of The Raid films, and it was to be a chance to build up her acting repertoire after more action-oriented small parts in films like The Expendables 3 and Furious 7.

That role was expected to be reduced a bit when it was announced that star Mark Wahlberg had joined the project, and in a new profile piece on STX studio chairman Adam Fogelson in The New Yorker, it was revealed that the role was reduced significantly over Fogelson’s concerns for her acting ability.

The entire plot of the film was changed to make Wahlberg’s character the focus, leaving Rousey with yet another more action-oriented role.

As Fogelson commented, “It allows Ronda to do everything she can and should do without having to carry any undue acting weight.”

Director Peter Berg had hoped to convince him otherwise, relaying an exchange they had as he pitched the film to begin with. Berg wanted Fogelson to meet with Rousey for lunch or dinner to convince him she was capable of more.

From the profile:

Berg brightened. “I’m going to say, ‘Let me come to your house with Ronda and explain why you should do it.’ ”

“Be heroic!” Fogelson suggested. With that problem solved, or at least deferred, he raised another one: Ronda Rousey’s acting chops. He asked, with no particular inflection, whether Berg had seen her cameo in “Furious 7.”

“You’re concerned about her acting?” Berg said. Fogelson nodded emphatically. “I’m on that. I’m on that this afternoon,” Berg said. Assessing Fogelson’s expression, he continued, “I’ll set a dinner, and you’ll see how charming and talented she is. She’s a lethal weapon—and she’s beautiful.”

“Great!” Fogelson said. “Let’s make it lunch.” A homebody, he’d almost always rather be making dinner with his wife and two young girls.

“Dinner’s better,” Berg said, with a crooked smile.

“I’m excited for a lunch,” Fogelson said.

Afterward, Berg explained, “I have a gym, and I train fighters. Rule No. 1 is ‘Don’t ever fall in love with your fighter.’ Rule No. 2 is ‘You always fall in love with your fighter.’ Adam’s job is to maintain a healthy distance—he might have to say no to us, or shut the movie down. My job is to make that impossible. So I want it to be dinner, to have it be intimate—to make him fall in love.”

Alas, that meeting never took place.

Rousey will be filming Mile 22 early this year, with a remake of Roadhouse expected as well.

Penick’s Analysis: It seems this was more a perception of her acting ability than her just not cutting it whatsoever and having that reduced, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of her continued Hollywood attempts. Hopefully for her sake she performs well with what’s asked of her, and she can continue to move forward from there. That said, Fogelson’s concerns off of Furious 7 could be seen as understandable, as her brief role was to look mean and fight. She had some awkward stilted dialog, but she also wasn’t given much to work with to begin with. Again, for her sake and the sake of this second career, it’s something upon which she improves, and she’ll do what she can to make her opportunities count.


[Photo (c) Jason da Silva via USA Today Sports]

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