Kiana Madeira, Ross Butler found 'Perfect Addiction' physically, emotionally challenging

Kiana Madeira and Ross Butler star in "Perfect Addiction." Photo courtesy of Constantin Film
1 of 6 | Kiana Madeira and Ross Butler star in "Perfect Addiction." Photo courtesy of Constantin Film

LOS ANGELES, April 14 (UPI) -- Kiana Madeira and Ross Butler said their MMA romance, Perfect Addiction, available on video on demand Friday, challenged them physically and emotionally, just like their characters.

Madeira, 30, plays Sienna, a trainer who takes on Kayden (Butler) to prepare him for a bout against her ex-boyfriend, Jax (Matthew Noszka).


"She's very tough, driven and strong," Madeira told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "In different moments, [Sienna] is also very soft and more playful. As women, we can be both, so it's nice to see that reflected on screen."

Butler and Madeira trained in mixed martial arts techniques before filming Perfect Addiction.

Butler, 32, said Perfect Addiction appealed to him because of the blend of genres.

"A lot of fighting movies show the fighter's life or the fighter's problems, but none of them is really that romantic," Butler said. "My character's not very emotional, so obviously it brings him out of his shell."


Perfect Addiction is based on the book by Claudia Tan, which is the second in her Perfect series. Tan was 16 when she published Perfect Illusion on Wattpad on Nov. 5, 2014, and Perfect Addiction followed on Feb. 18, 2015.

Tan said she wasn't surprised the second book is the first to become a movie because Perfect Addiction is the most popular in her series. She said she consulted a Muay Thai trainer as part of her research for writing about fights in the book.

Tan said she also explored Sienna and Kayden's emotional journeys through their physical expressions.

"These two characters have their own demons to deal with," Tan said. "As they're training, you can feel that tension -- them battling whatever they have inside of them."

In addition to the romance that blooms between Sienna and Kayden, Madeira saw a maternal instinct in Sienna, she said. Likewise, Madeira said Sienna's trainer, Julian (Manu Bennett), is a father figure to Sienna.

"As a trainer, if you're going to invest your energy and time into training an athlete, it's because you see the potential in them," Madeira said. "You want to invest your energy to help them grow just like a parent."


Julian encourages her to enter the ring. Training her is part of Sienna's journey to believe in herself as a fighter.

"Sometimes, it's scary to actually step into our full potential," Madeira said. "Then, when Kayden encourages her and asks her about it, and she is able to open up in that way, that's also setting her on that journey."

Butler said Sienna's journey inspired him, too. He said he saw parallels with women entering any male-dominated industry.

"What I found beautiful about the story was that she has more than enough skill to handle herself," Butler said. "She just hasn't had the confidence in a male-dominated sport to break off and do it."

Tan said the movie also added more specificity about Sienna's relationship with Jax, while Jax was "in the shadows" of her book. The film explores how abusive Jax was to Sienna and his new girlfriend.

Madeira said it was important to her to show viewers what an abusive relationship looks like, because people in those relationships may not realize it's not healthy.

"The more that they're able to see it on screen, the more we're able to have open conversations about it," Madeira said, adding that she hopes it results "in people feeling less alone and having more of a compass in how to navigate that."


Madeira trained in MMA with Sifu Dan Anderson, as well as with celebrity trainer Jerry Joseph.

Joseph taught Madeira the way to train another fighter, including holding pads during practice.

Butler said he trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and kickboxing for the film. Before that, he said he also practiced capoeira, Jeet Kune Do and Escrima.

Butler said his capoeira experience was most applicable to filming the fight scenes in Perfect Addiction.

"In capoeira, you want the other person to know what you're doing so they can dodge it, and it becomes this back and forth," Butler said. "Capoeira was the most helpful in transitioning from actually wanting to hit somebody to making it look good on camera."

Tan wrote the training sessions and MMA fights in prose in her book. She said the film adapted her text for the visual medium, and she was happy with the actors' portrayal of her characters.

"Ross did a good job portraying this moody, kind of standoffish guy but he's a good guy at heart," Tan said. "Kiana's just a badass, I think. She brings a new vulnerability to the character that I didn't expect, but it's so welcomed."

After publishing two online books at age 16, Tan studied writing at Lancaster University in England and waited until she graduated to continue the series.


"I wanted to grow up a little bit more and come back and revisit the series from a more mature perspective," Tan said. "It was really nice to see it from a more mature perspective, a perspective of a girl who's finally been in a relationship."

Sienna and Kayden do appear in Tan's subsequent books, and Butler and Madeira said they hope to play their roles again.

"I would love to play Sienna in any capacity," Madeira said. "She's a great character to play, and I would be excited for that."

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