Alexis Louder Did Her Clint Eastwood Homework To Star In Copshop [Interview]

Alexis Louder is a lone gunslinger in Joe Carnahan's "Copshop." It's not surprising that Carnahan asked to Louder to watch a few Clint Eastwood classics before tackling the role of Valerie Young, a gun-twirling and dedicated police officer. She's surrounded by cops and criminals in a station, but can't trust anyone but herself.

Per usual in Carnahan's films, it's a flashy role with plenty of fun to offer an actor. Louder, who recently appeared in "The Tomorrow War," gets to let loose as Valerie Young. Per Carnahan's homework, the actress found herself channeling Clint Eastwood more than once, as she told us over Zoom ahead of the film's release.

Joe Carnahan himself is a bit of a character. What's his energy on set?

He is. I would say that it was like being directed by a pro wrestler because there were several times, when you know when you got it, because he'll come out from behind the camera, "YEAH!"

[Laughs] He gave you some Clint Eastwood movies to watch, right? Which ones?

I watched "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and "Dirty Harry." Those were my favorites of the ones that I watched. I watched those multiple times. Valerie is definitely a Clint Eastwood. This is totally her jam. She's in this small town and she's waiting on trouble to find her. And when it does, she's like, I don't need the FBI or the CIA or anything like that. I'm going to handle this.

On her own, like Clint.

Yeah. She has an insatiable thirst for justice and she is adamant on making wrongs right. Keeping the bad guys behind bars.

Were you channeling Eastwood on set much?

Oh yes. Like when I did the under arrest part in the trailer, I definitely was channeling his smolder that he does.

What do you think makes those kinds of characters and performances so compelling?

Well, I think because they're usually honest. And usually, they believe in what they're doing. I think that's why you really resonate with their performances and that's why we always go back to them and want more of it.

Fair to say Valerie is the only pure character in this story, right?

Yes. She's a rookie, but she doesn't know everything, but she's willing to learn. She has competence from her previous life before being a police officer and her team members, they recognize that and they respect her for it. And she's an addition to the team. She's not like a wet blanket that, they just don't want her around or anything like that. And a lot of times with female leads, it's written that way where no one really wants to be their friend. The guys don't really want her around and they're written very insecure. But, in this film, she's cool. She's somebody you want to hang out with. And she also sticks to her guns and what she believes in.

How was it spinning that Blackhawk [gun]?

A lot of practice. They got me a gunslinger to train me. I was practicing with two replicas that were weighted. They made sure they were the same weight and I'm surprised I didn't lose a finger during the practice. It was a lot like when you're not working those muscles in your hands like that, it's very tedious and strenuous, but nothing that's worth it, is easy. And so, that's what I had to keep reminding myself through practicing. But even on the day when we were filming that opening shot, I think I had to do like three or four times before I got it right. You got a camera move, you got the wind blowing, equilibrium is just right.

Does it feel very unnatural at first?

Yeah. Because, usually when you grab things, you grab with your whole hand. Here, it's my pointer finger. So, it was odd and something that I needed to really practice at. 'Cause like I have very small wrists and hands, so it was muscles I needed to work.

"It's a Pretty Heavy Gun"

One of the coolest perks of the job seems to be those tricks and skills you pickup along the way from job to job.

I haven't practiced since wrapping, but I need to practice again because it is a skill that I would love to keep because it is a luxury when you do these jobs and you're able to learn these skills that it's like, who says, oh, I'm going to call up a gunslinger to train me. It's such a random thing, but it's so cool to be able to learn those things. I do want to start practicing again. It's probably like maybe five or six pounds. It's a pretty heavy gun.

While Clint's silent heroes often had the benefit of not a lot of dialogue, you have quite a bit. It's a dialogue-heavy thriller. What was unique about delivering Joe's lines?

It was interesting to be able to incorporate that vocabulary. Because some of the phrases that we came up with, I still use now. There were definitely sometimes in rehearsal, I asked, "What does that mean?" Joe would explain what was what. I love the way that he wrote this because it was a lot like a play. So when we got into the cell blocks where you're in one location, they're using the camera to figure out who Valerie is leaning towards and different things like that.

Would you and Joe talk a lot about the pace and rhythm of those cell block scenes?

Oh yes, because the pace and rhythm also tells you a lot about what's going on between each character that Valerie is talking to. So we definitely talked about the rhythm of the scene, but once we rehearsed it enough, when you get in there, you're in the cell block, you're in the environment and you're letting that educate your choices.

"She's Going to Be Precise"

You're mostly acting opposite of two wildly different personalities with Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler. As scene partners, what did they give you?

I'll say it felt a lot like two siblings bickering across the cells. And Valerie is just like, "Can you guys please shut up? And one of you tell me the truth." I was getting a lot of that energy, but that was their way of playing coy and covering up the truth, which is what Valerie was after. Like the bottom line is, what is the truth?

Once the action really kicks in, how'd the action define Valerie for you?

It is like a pressure cooker in the cell block. And then once they're out of the cell, it just combusts. Valerie, you can tell by the weapon that she uses, that she's a very disciplined person. So in an action scene, she's not going to be shooting all over the place. She's going to be precise. In where she fires and being mindful of her bullets and conservative in that way where she's like, I have a goal and I'm not about to just spray bullets all over the place. I don't want to give too much away, but you have the other characters and their fighting styles or the way they handle the action scenes tells a lot about their characters between Viddick and Murretto.

Gerard Butler has a great laugh after watching Valerie in action. His character definitely has respect for her. Do you think that respect goes both ways?

I think there is a certain level of respect there. I think she's found herself a formidable foe because she's in this small town where nothing happens and trouble has found her and she's so glad for it. And now, she has someone to go after and I think that's those conversations in the cell block and then the action scenes toward the end. She is living her best life.