Broken glasses, head-butts: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miyavi cook up epic 'Kate' kitchen battle
Here are the main ingredients of the kitchen-set battle royale between assassins Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Jojima (Japanese musician/actor Miyavi) in Netflix's "Kate."
Take one fish pedicure, a leopard-print Versace robe, multiple head-butts (at least one real). Add wine glasses (broken for stem-stabbing purposes), knives, espresso machine parts, scissors (usually never there when you need them) and a refrigerator door.
The plated mayhem is an action dish to be savored in the story of doomed killer-for-hire "Kate" (streaming Friday on Netflix), who is looking for the crime boss who poisoned her before she dies.
"There's something really fun and extra-brutal about using household items as weapons," says Winstead. "That's one reason why that's my favorite fight scene in the movie."
That's one reason it rocks. Here are more:
50 best TV shows to watch on Netflix right now: '30 Rock,' 'Friday Night Lights'
The scene is 'really raw, really real'
The counter clash is primarily between Winstead's Kate and Miyavi's hard hitman, up close and fighting dirty. And it shows.
The one-time ballet dancer Winstead, 36, played Huntress in "Birds of Prey" with stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio before "Kate." The two took the Winstead's martial arts training to the next level for "Kate."
The impressively athletic Miyavi, 39, who showed action chops in 2017's "Kong: Skull Island," did not have time to rehearse the prolonged battle beyond the choreography. But that worked just fine.
"We were just were kind of thrown into the ring with each other, so it felt really raw and really real," says Winstead, who adds there were painful consequences. "We wrecked each other up pretty good."
In the close quarters, with little room for error, one Miyavi head-butt unintentionally connected with Winstead's head. "I was like, oh God, real head-butt, this is getting real," says Winstead. "I thought, at least that's going to be a great movie shot, but it's not even in there."
Winstead got professional payback, stabbing Miyavi repeatedly in the chest with a broken wine glass. It was made of rubber, but in the thrusting action, there was damage. "She stabbed me over and over. It’s really important to make it look real," says Miyavi.
Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan says the battle was almost entirely Winstead and Miyavi in close camera frame (a stunt double was needed to throw Kate off the counter). It's bruisingly effective.
"You want to show their faces, so it's actor versus actor, and it's a dirty fight. It was nerve-wracking at times to direct, but it worked," says Nicolas-Troyan.
They used everything and the kitchen sink
The two punish each other over every inch of the luxury kitchen. Kate hits Jojima repeatedly with a refrigerator door and they both fly through lethal kitchen utensils. Nicolas-Troyan came up with the idea of weaponizing the silver portafilter from the high-end espresso machine. "We were talking near the espresso machine, and I took off that part thinking wow, that's pretty cool," he says.
Fast forward to the scene of Kate thumping Jojima with the silver portafilter amid the scene's bubbly soundtrack of "Cannibal Coast" by Japanese group Aural Vampire.
"We're always looking for something new," says Nicolas-Troyan.
In his brief performance, Miyavi is mesmerizing. We meet the unsuspecting Jojima wearing his Versace robe, his feet soaking in a tub with Garra rufa fish eating away the dead skin while snickering at "Message from Space: Galactic Wars" on the TV.
Even dealing with his uncooperative, yet still perfect hair in the fray, Jojima is as lethal as screen memorable. When he removes the robe he reveals a literal killer body with intricate tattoos. That's Miyavi's real ink, including the Buddhist prayer Hannya Shingyo on his back and two large Chinese characters for sword and sound on his chest.When Nicolas-Troyan saw the living art, he opted to feature it onscreen.
"In the past I've had to cover up my tattoos for roles, but my tattoos fit the character. I didn’t have to cover it up," says Miyavi.
Winstead, who takes her ukulele to movie sets, was thrilled to find her 17-year-old co-star Miku Patricia Martineau (who plays Kate's young hostage Ani) was also toting her ukulele. In between set mayhem they would jam ditties like, "Can't Help Falling In Love," with Nicolas-Troyan joining along (who coincidentally, had his own ukulele).
"I would forget I was covered in blood with all these prosthetic wounds and that I looked absolutely terrifying," says Winstead. "We'd sing these pretty little songs together."
Miyavi took other routes to relaxation. So exhausted after hours of battle, he crashed somewhere near the kitchen.
"I was supposed to go back to the hotel, but I just fell asleep from being so tired," he says. "I had my daughters on the set that day and they were saying, 'What are you doing Daddy?' "