'Bricklayer' fulfilled Nina Dobrev's action hero dreams

Nina Dobrev gets in on the action in "The Bricklayer." Photo courtesy of Vertical
1 of 6 | Nina Dobrev gets in on the action in "The Bricklayer." Photo courtesy of Vertical

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Nina Dobrev said she grew up wanting to play an action hero. She finally got her chance in The Bricklayer, in theaters Friday.

Dobrev, 34, plays Kate, a rookie CIA agent who must accompany former agent Vail (Aaron Eckhart) out of retirement for a mission to stop an assassin who is blackmailing the CIA.


"I wanted to be Angelina Jolie," Dobrev told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "I wanted to be a Lara Croft Tomb Raider-type character."

Dobrev's family moved from Bulgaria to Canada in the early '90s. She said she grew up watching Die Hard movies and other action films with her brother and father, who could enjoy them despite not speaking English.

Dobrev played a tech expert in xXx: Return of Xander Cage but The Bricklayer brought her closer to being an action heroine herself.


Though Dobrev had a stunt double in The Bricklayer, she enjoyed performing stunts like shooting a gun from a moving car and fighting with a villain.

The Bricklayer director Renny Harlin, who directed Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, was efficient filming those physical scenes, Dobrev said.

"We only did a few takes of everything and moved on," she said. "The days were really fast."

Dobrev researched her role by reading Amaryllis Fox's book Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA. She also tried to contact Fox at the CIA and through social media, but was unsuccessful.

"I'm hoping that in these interviews, at some point, somehow, somebody forwards it to her so that she knows that I was trying to get in touch with her," Dobrev said. "As you would imagine the CIA is very secretive."

Dobrev said she found it amusing that Fox opens her book criticizing unrealistic action movies' inaccuracies about CIA field operations. The Bricklayer also favors entertainment over realism.

"Our movie is a perfect example of exactly that," Dobrev said. "None of these scenarios would really happen, but you have to suspend disbelief for filmmaking."

As much as Dobrev enjoyed the physical side of Kate, she said it was important to her that Kate show growth. She begins the movie as a naive young professional excited to go into the field, but becomes more jaded over the course of the mission.


"She's a very different person from the very beginning until the very end," Dobrev said. "I loved seeing her transition and her growth over the film."

Dobrev said she also resisted depicting Kate as a sexy icon. Though Kate wears glamorous gowns during undercover missions, Dobrev said she fought for her more practical wardrobe of pantsuits.

"When she does have to go into the field and be this other character who's a little bit sexier, it's uncomfortable for her," Dobrev said. "I feel like she grew into that as the movie went on and she became more that person."

Growing up in Canada, Dobrev began acting in film and television at 17. She appeared in four seasons of the Canadian teen hit Degrassi: The Next Generation before beginning The CW's hit The Vampire Diaries in 2009.

Dobrev said she would return to television depending on the project. She is attached to a limited series adaptation of Greer Macallister's historical novel, Woman 99.

"I'm open to doing TV again for sure," Dobrev said. "I think it just has to be the right thing. It has to be something that pushes me and challenges me."


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