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Carla Gugino: 'Gunpowder Milkshake' creates family of armed librarians

Carla Gugino plays a gun-toting librarian in Gunpowder Milkshake. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Carla Gugino plays a gun-toting librarian in "Gunpowder Milkshake." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 14 (UPI) -- Carla Gugino, who stars in the Netflix action movie Gunpowder Milkshake, out Wednesday, said the film has something to say about family.

"Women are particularly good at making families," Gugino told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "Some family that we're born into and some that we just choose to surround ourselves by."

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The film follows Sam (Karen Gillan), who became an assassin after her assassin mother, Scarlett (Lena Headey), abandoned her as a teenager. When a mission goes badly, Sam turns to the organization called the Library, out of which her mother used to operate.

The librarians, Madeline (Gugino), Anna May (Angela Bassett) and Florence (Michelle Yeoh), provide Sam with equipment and shelter. Gugino said the librarians become Sam's mother by proxy while Scarlett is unavailable.

"I kind of love that these women are all really formidable in their own right, but together they make up something really powerful," Gugino said.

Gugino said she suggested elements of Madeline's history to director Navot Papushado to further define her role in the family of librarians.

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"I felt like she was raised by nuns in an orphanage, and therefore had this reverence for propriety and a certain kind of put-together nature," Gugino said. "Therefore, she's always had this very soft spot for children and their natural maternal instinct."

When Sam returns to the Library, Madeline is the most welcome and maternal to her. Gugino said she imagined Madeline has a history with Sam.

"I think as Scarlett was off fighting for her cause, I have a feeling Madeline was probably the one who babysat Sam more than anybody else," Gugino said. "Sam still has the Tomahawk that she was probably playing with, perhaps inappropriately playing with, as a young child."

Madeline springs into action in the climax of Gunpowder Milkshake. The librarians fend off a gang of assassins, and Madeline operates a massive Gatling gun.

"Let me tell you, that gun is very heavy," Gugino said. "Lifting the gun out of the van, there was a moment where I thought I might have to have someone down here just helping me push it out, but then I didn't. I got it."

While firing the gun, Gugino screams like Rambo when he shoots his machine guns. Gugino said she screamed once on the set, and later dubbed in "an even more crazy sort of call to the wild scream."

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Madeline also battles another assassin in hand-to-hand combat with an ax. Gugino said she rehearsed the fight for a week and a half, but filmed it in less than a day.

"I did have a day or two where my right arm, I could not lift it literally," Gugino said. "But it was worth every second."

Madeline wears one costume throughout Gunpowder Milkshake. Gugino said she and costume designer Louise Frogley were inspired by a picture of Brigitte Bardot with tall hair and a ribbon. Madeline wears her hair in a bun, with a bolo tie dangling between her open sweater.

"I wanted something that was quintessentially feminine, which felt very right for Madeline, but also kind of buttoned up and that would be fun to become a badass in," Gugino said.

Gunpowder Milkshake hints at the history of the Library, but Gugino has some more specific ideas. Gugino said that she felt Madeline met Anna May and Florence after she left the nunnery.

"I think she found Anna May and Florence along the way, and then they created the Library together," Gugino said. "If there ever is a prequel to this movie, we might get a little more insight into that."

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Gugino also said that the events of Gunpowder Milkshake reawaken Madeline's violent side. Gugino said Madeline had retired from the assassin's life and only resumes because assassins are coming for a child Sam brings to the Library.

"My feeling is that she had given up violence and that chapter of her life until a child comes back to the library and needs to be protected," Gugino said. "Then she will stop at nothing."

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