Meet Gina Carano, the New Breed of Action Hero

"Bridesmaids" proved that audiences will flock to a movie about women who are bawdy and hilarious. Here's hoping "Haywire," Steven Soderbergh's Bourne-esque action thriller about a covert operative caught in a deadly double cross that's headlined by female MMA star Gina Carano, teaches the masses that girls can unapologetically kick butt too.

After seeing one too many round house kicks by Jessica Alba in Spanx (which she doesn't even need) or Angelina Jolie's frighteningly frail reed limbs wielding a gun, Carano is a welcome respite from female action heroes that demand a bit too much suspension of disbelief. Come on; did anyone ever really think Jennifer Garner could beat them up?

But the hard-hitting believability of Carano, best known as a trained Muy Thai fighter and as "Crush" on "American Gladiators," made casting the film a bit tricky. Soderbergh cautioned Carano early on that it would be "interesting" to see who signed on for roles that showed masculine movie stars getting worked over by a girl.

Channing Tatum, who very vocally went on the record last year, admitting he wasn't interested in watching or starring opposite a female action hero until Hollywood unearthed a woman who was truly intimidating, was elated to work with Carano. "I've always wanted someone that I would be afraid to fight. And they found one," he grins. "Isn't she just the most amazing little thing ever?" Tatum gushes. "I mean, she's diesel, but she's just got the best heart and she's so good in this movie!"

When asked about other actors who passed on the project, Channing scoffs, "I would love to know who they are and I will call them out right now; You are a P-word. You are a huge P-word! Look, you gotta be secure in this life. She's a real fighter. She can beat up most dudes."

"I got my butt kicked sideways by her and I loved every minute of it!" Ewan McGregor adds. "It never crossed my mind for a minute not to do the movie for some macho reason."

Carano, who describes herself as "a tomboy who also loved 'Pride and Prejudice,'" says she feels incredibly lucky to have been given the chance to do any movie, let alone the lead in a Soderbergh project. "I don't consider myself what people are necessarily looking for," she says, surprisingly sheepish for someone who knows her way around a submission chokeout. "So I knew if I was going to get this opportunity, it was going to have to come to me. And it did."

"I think she's in a purgatory of 'Should I act? Should I fight?'" Tatum offers. "I would love to see her play Red Sonja. I'd be the first one in the theater for that!"

Channing, we'd be right behind you.

"Haywire" opens everywhere January 20th

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