The terms ‘wholesome’ and ‘smoking hot’ are not often thought to be synonymous; yet when it comes to Phoenix; those are the first adjectives that come to mind.
The rising star, who landed the lead role in "Death Race 2" alongside Danny Trejo (Machete) and Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), leads a lifestyle that is antithetical to that of her young Hollywood peers. “I’m not a party girl, and I never have been,” says the South African native. “I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, and I don’t do drugs.’ Despite her penchant for avoiding trouble, she is anything but dull.
Phoenix started out as a model, but has been acting almost exclusively for the past three years. She decided to focus on the latter because, as she puts it, “it’s so much more mind stimulating.” Not all that surprising, since brains run in the family; her father is a metaphysicist and a quantum mechanics lecturer. In addition to being an intellectual, she is also a thrill seeker who enjoys physical activities like skydiving. Perhaps that explains why she was so willing to do her own stunts in "Death Race 2."
"Death Race 2," the prequel to the 2008 film" Death Race," takes place in the near future and focuses on the origins of Carl 'Luke' Lucas (Luke Goss), the first 'Frankenstein' car driver who died in a race at the beginning of the first film. After taking part in a foiled bank robber, he is sent to a privately run prison which hosts a televised pay per-view competition called Death Match, in which two dangerous convicts are chosen to fight to the death or submission. Later in the film, to boost profits, Death Match becomes a “Death Race,” where contestants must race each other to win each match.
Joining Luke is Phoenix’s character Katrina Banks, a female prisoner serving as a ring girl, who helps him win the competition. The film, filled with action, drama and fast cars; then revolves around her character, an ex-military sniper who kills a superior officer. Needless to say, her muay thai training came in handy.
When discussing her role, Phoenix is as gracious as she is tough; although she does many of her own stunts, she expresses her appreciation for the stunt people who did some of the more intense work.
So has Hollywood changed Phoenix? “I’ll always be a South African girl, even when I’m in LA… (some of) the directors will even ask me to keep my accent, which is cool.” Although partying until 4am isn't her thing, she is a true a wild child; and an avid animal lover who supports the South African Dog Association and has traveled to animal sanctuaries in Thailand.
Looks, compassion, brains, and a voracious appetite for adventure; what more could a man ask for in a woman? Lucky for us, we’ll be seeing more of her soon. Death Race 2 is now on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download. And expect to see her in the HBO contemporary film noir 13 part series, Femme Fatale, about women who kill men. Phoenix will serve as the narrator and the series is scheduled to air in Spring 2011.