The badass movie star talks sexuality, representation and her brand new film, SAS: Red Notice


The first time Ruby Rose appears as Stella Carlin in Orange Is The New Black she’s sewing hot pink panties for Whispers Inc, somehow managing to look fantastic in a baggy, beige prison outfit and prompting thousands of viewers around the world to murmur, a little flustered, “Who is that?”

The first time we see her as psychopathic gang leader Grace Lewis in SAS: Red Notice, she’s in full combat gear, wielding a machine gun, ready to unleash unholy hell. Based on Andy McNab’s bestselling novel, Ruby’s latest film is a non-stop thrill-fest about her character’s dastardly plan to blow up the Channel Tunnel while SAS dude Tom Buckingham (Outlander’s Sam Heughen) tries desperately to stop her.

If you’re into action movies then this one has everything you could wish for – government corruption, double agents and, perhaps most excitingly of all, Ruby Rose swaggering about in a leather jacket.

Today we’re chatting via Zoom. At home in her LA pad, she’s looking sharp in a black shirt with her head freshly shaved, ready to talk all about her gripping new film and reveal what it’s really like being an out lesbian in Hollywood.

DIVA: SAS: Red Notice is pretty wild. You’re trying to blow up the Channel Tunnel, you’re shooting everybody. It’s all going on, Ruby! 

RUBY ROSE: Honestly, people always say, “You love action films. Why’d you choose this action film?” I don’t usually choose the action films based on action. It’s always about the character, the story, a director or a message I want to tell.

What was it about this particular script that made you want to be involved?

This one arrived on my desk and I was like, “What’s happening?” It arrived with a book called The Good Psychopath and I was like, “What am I getting myself into?” The idea that I would be playing someone on the psychopathy spectrum and so would Sam, and that one of us is good and one of us is bad. But also, are they? Which one is good? Which one is bad? It’s interesting to navigate, because it’s never really that simple. That was what really drew me to the film.

I love how deep you’ve gone into the psychology of your character. And then on top of that layer, you also have a whole lot of action – machine guns, knives in people, things exploding.

It was a lot. We did a lot, didn’t we? With the guns and stuff.

Very much so. Did you have any crazy experiences on set?

We had a night that was pretty funny, but also terrifying. We got a bunch of extras from Hungary, locals, and I realised very early on that they had real guns with real bullets.

Oh my god.

Before we were doing the scene where we were going to be running and they were going to be shooting at us, I was talking to them. They were saying, “There was this ad in the paper. It said it doesn’t matter if you can act or not, and if you can, bring your own gun.” I was like, “What?! They’re blanks, right?” And this guy just looked at me. I guess the blanks weren’t up to his standard and he didn’t want to wreck his gun. So I was like, “That’s not going to work for me!” We had a blast, because it was funny. It wasn’t, like, a scary thing. They were laughing, we were laughing.

Thank goodness you were all ok! You’ve played a lot of baddies and tough characters like Grace. Do you think the fact that you’re out affects the kind of roles you’re cast in?

Yeah, I think it would be a little naive to think it’s never crossed anyone’s mind, ever. The timing of my success in the States and the conversation about us needing to have more diversity was actually good, in a way. It meant that as these roles came up, I was identifying with them immediately and thinking, “I can do this. I relate to this character”. Like Orange Is The New Black. So in one way, it’s given me opportunities. And in another way, I’m sure that I’m the last person they look at if they’re thinking of the sexy, bombshell girlfriend or wife to whoever.

Let’s talk about Orange Is The New Black. When you joined that series, it seemed like suddenly the whole world was madly in love with you. What on earth was that like?

It was bizarre. I was so excited about being on the show, I didn’t know that people would really even notice Stella that much. I was doing three episodes. Then it got extended to six and we ended up with way more. Then it blew up into this thing with memes and whatever and everyone saying what they were saying, and I was just like, “Oh!” It was a fun, little zeitgeist moment and I’m very grateful for it.

It was definitely a huge cultural phenomenon and it was so important for lesbian representation too. 

It allowed people to talk about sexuality in a way that made them feel a bit more free, saying, “I feel this,” and, “This person’s hot,” and, “This girl’s hot”. For some people, that was an important stepping stone. But I was very happy when it was over. I said to my manager, “The problem with being an it-girl is that now I have to be a not-it-girl!” So I had my it-girl moment and now I’m back to just being a working actor, which is a bit nicer, I think.


SAS: Red Notice is available only on Sky Cinema from 12 March

For more Ruby Rose, check out our extra special interview in the April issue of DIVA magazine, available from 26 March via the links below

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. //

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