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Ross Butler Talks ‘Perfect Addiction’ and Choreographing Sex Scenes

Apr 17, 2023


From director Castille Landon and based on the Wattpad novel by Claudia Tan, the MMA drama Perfect Addiction follows Siena Lane (Kiana Madeira), a trainer so deeply betrayed by her fighter ex-boyfriend Jax Deneris (Matthew Noszka) that she becomes laser-focused on revenge. While getting his arch-nemesis Kayden Williams (Ross Butler) ready to win, the time they spend together blurs boundaries, and the more in sync they get in the ring, the closer they also get outside of it.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Butler (who plays Super Hero Eugene in Shazam! and its sequel) talked about what drew him to this project, working with such a heavy female presence both in front of and behind the camera, shooting in Poland, shooting the training scenes versus the fight scenes, what he most enjoyed about his character arc, finding chemistry with co-star Madeira, choreographing the sex scenes, the film’s antagonist, and what he’d like the next step in his career to be.
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Collider: I’m very impressed with all the work it must have taken and all the physical training you had to go to, to pull this off.

ROSS BUTLER: There was definitely a lot of physical training It was months and months of physical training, which was awesome. I probably got in the best shape of my life for this.

When this project came your way, what was the appeal for you? Were you interested in the whole MMA world? Did you like the romance side of it? Was it the combination of those things?

BUTLER: It was both of those things. I wanted to start moving towards more action. I’ve been in the teen world for a long time. I’ve infamously been playing a teenager for 10 years and I was like, “I’ve gotta start growing my facial hair out more often.” But what attracted me to this was that, when we see these MMA movies, or these fighting movies, you don’t really see that much romantic drama in them. It’s more about the fighter and his struggle. What drew me to this was that it’s female driven, which is something you never see in MMA movies, since probably Million Dollar Baby, and we got to show more of the life behind the fighter, rather than just the fighting itself. And I like how it was a situation where she’s training me to fight her ex, who’s cheating on her with her younger sister. How can you not get crazy drama from that? So, there were a lot of things about it that I was interested in. I wanted to do something this physically demanding. I love Shazam!, but that’s more CGI and powers. This was more raw and practical.

Image via DECAL 

I love that, for what’s typically thought of as a very male-driven world, this movie has a female director, female screenwriter, the author of the book that created this world is female, and your co-star at the center of this, who really kicks your ass in a lot of ways, is a female. What kind of energy and environment did that create on set?

BUTLER: I would say that there was definitely an energy on set that was everybody pushing themselves to a different degree. Another thing that drew me to this movie was that, yes, it’s essentially a female trying to break into a male-dominated space, but she’s constantly being subdued by this egoist male figure, and that obviously has its parallels, in almost every facet of society right now. There was a unity amongst everyone to really make that parallels clear because it’s not just in the fighting world, it’s in the real world. And we were shooting in the winter in Poland, so we had some long, cold days. You need that extra energy to keep the train going, and that was something we were all proud of, in the end.

What was it like to shoot this in Poland? Did you actually get to see any of it?

BUTLER: We were shooting in Kraków, which is a beautiful city. I had no idea what to expect from Poland. I thought it was just going to be Eastern block, very dim and gray, which it was for the first month. But as soon as spring hit, Poland turned from this gray, cloudy place to super green. All the trees were blooming, literally within a few days. And yeah, I got to explore. It’s the oldest medieval city that’s still intact from the World War. It was beautiful. I was really surprised by Poland. It blew me away. The food there was amazing. I didn’t realize how multicultural it was. Because Poland was owned by so many different cultures, it’s just this beautiful mix of everything. I even stayed an extra week in Warsaw, after we wrapped, just to explore.

You trained to play this character, but your character also spends a portion of the film training. What’s it to do the training scenes, compared to when you’re actually in the ring?

BUTLER: They are completely different skills. I have martial arts training from before this, but not as much stunt fight training. I’ve done some stunts in the past, but stunt fighting is exhausting and it’s its own style of acting. That’s why we give so much props to the stunt guys. It’s crazy. Doing the training scenes, like when I’m lifting, I would say that’s more fun. The fighting is brutal. We were fighting 12 or 13 hours a day. When you see these fighters that fight real matches, real fights and real bouts are 10 minutes long. Ten minutes of fighting doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s very different. We’re fighting for 12 hours, making everything look good for the camera. So, I had fun doing the talking scenes. Most of the time, when I had to fight, it wasn’t as fun because I was constantly getting my ass kicked.

Image via DECAL

Your character is in a really interesting spot in this story because he finds himself in the middle of a toxic relationship that he doesn’t even really realize he’s in the middle of. What did you most enjoy about your character arc, with these two people going from strangers, to being able to tolerate each other, to then realizing that they actually have feelings for each other, all while this toxic relationship is going on around them?

BUTLER: Wow, honestly, I hadn’t even thought about that. Yeah, I was just minding my own business, and then I brought into this world. No. What’s really beautiful about this character arc is that they do start as strangers. This guy doesn’t want to let anybody in, and same thing with Sienna. So, when she moves in, we’re trying so hard to keep away from each other, emotionally and physically, except when we’re fighting. That’s relatable because I think we’ve all had that situation where we’re just not ready to be in a new relationship, or we’re not looking to find anybody, and that’s when we find people that are the most special to us, whether it’s someone you get into a relationship with or you’re just friends with. My favorite part about it was that transition when we had our really happy scenes. When we were shooting, I had to remind myself, “Is this a scene where like I’m happy with her, am I trying to keep away from her?” And then, as Poland switched from winter to spring, it paralleled the story really well because we had a lot of our emotionally happy scenes when spring was blooming. It was a really nice transition to go from this cold-hearted guy to letting this woman in and letting her affect him.

Whether or not a movie like this works, really depends on the audience buying into the chemistry between the characters. What was that like to find? When did you meet Kiana Madeira? Was it early in the process? Did you have any time to get to know each other?

BUTLER: She lived in New York and I lived in L.A., and it was during COVID, so we met for the first time in Poland. I think we were in a gym. I can’t remember if that was the actual first day, or if it was a script reading. But Kiana is just such a wonderful woman, and she’s so driven. I didn’t really have any issues finding chemistry with her. Whether or not it shows on screen is not for me to judge, but we had such a funny little relationship. We had these little comedic bits. It was hard to be mean to her, at the beginning of the movie, because she’s just so lovely. Kiana wasn’t hard to have chemistry with. We put so much work into our characters and we know who our characters were, which can make it easier to connect in the scene. I’ve always found it easier to connect to people in my character, which sounds weird. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe I’ve gotta figure that out, at some point.

You have fight scenes in this, which are very choreographed, and you have sex scenes in this, which I would assume are also very choreographed. When it comes to the staging of both those things, does it feel like you approach them from a similar place?

BUTLER: Yeah. We work very closely with an intimacy coordinator to choreograph the sex scenes, and we work with the stunt coordinators for the stunt scenes. It’s very important because you’re like, “Okay, you’ve gotta cover these bits and make sure these bits are not shown to camera.” There is a certain amount of choreography that goes into both. And then, once you know the choreography, you just let yourself live in it. That’s the same for sex scenes and the fight scenes. With the sex scenes, once you have your bases covered, you can let the emotion flow through. But sex scenes are not very glamorous. We’re wearing these cock socks to cover everything up. When you see it, it’s crazy because it looks so good. But when we’re shooting it, it’s just crazy. It’s the same thing with fight scenes. When you’re shooting fake lightning at a tennis ball, it can be a little ridiculous, in the moment. For me, the superhero stuff is easier because I’m a kid at heart and it’s fun to pretend to shoot a lightning bolt.

Image via DECAL

The other piece to this story is the antagonist for both of you, with Jax. What was it like to figure out that dynamic and do the fights with him? How do you figure all of that out, when you each have your own fighting style?

BUTLER: Yeah, the style of each character was something that we talked about with the stunt coordinators. Jax is very big and ego-driven. He’s a showy fighter, where I’m fighting to survive and to pay the bills, but also on a self-destructive path and very closed off. We worked on our fighting styles just like we worked on our characters, and the choreography was reflective of that. Jax’s moves are very big with huge knees, and mine were very tight and close and more technique-based. The beauty of acting is that I’m not an angry guy, and I could never be really angry at anybody, but it can be fun to feel those fake emotions. To be like, “I’m just gonna hate this person with everything I have and just let loose,” is therapeutic, in a weird way. It’s like one of those rage rooms, where you go into a room with a bat and you can knock shit over and break it. We don’t hate each other like that in real life, but there’s something nice about letting your brain explore that.

As you keep doing these different projects, does it change what you want to focus on next?

BUTLER: Sure, yeah. It’s always changing. What you choose to do next in your career is a mix of, “What does my career need, and then what do I wanna do?” And then, being an Asian American actor it’s also like, “How can I contribute to the community? How can I further this for everybody else, to contribute to the mission of the whole?” For me, it’s just about maturing the projects that I’m doing. I’m staying away from the teen stuff. I don’t even know how I’m still getting offers for teen stuff. It’s about growing with my fan base and creating things that are widening the demographic, to say things in very business talk, but also just exploring new characters that I haven’t done before. It’s fun to feel or get into the mind of another person. It affects me, as a person, to get to live through another person. I have a license to live through another person’s perspective, and I learn more about myself and about a bunch of different things. So, I just look to do things that are new and that let me look at the world in a different way, through a different lens.

Do you know what that next thing will be?

BUTLER: I have a couple projects lined up now. I have one coming up that’s really cool. I can’t really talk too much about it, but it’s a dirt bike rider guy. I do ride a motorcycle, but that seems a little bit more fun. And then, there’s one that I’m gonna do soon, where I’m a lawyer, which I haven’t done before. I’m just looking to explore a bunch of different perspectives, to widen my views on life.

Perfect Addiction is available on VOD.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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