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  • Writer's pictureoliverjlwebb

An Interview with Neraida Bega

Photo: Ben Cope

Neraida Bega is an actor and mocap actor known for her work on WandaVision, American Bred, APEX Legends, and the upcoming film Dog. I spoke with Neraida about her formal training, working on the video game APEX Legends, and her upcoming projects.

Did you always want to pursue a career in acting?

I grew up playing the piano and violin. In my family, we have actors, musicians, and painters. When I was growing up, I did not think of acting as a career. I was studying to become a dentist and that was my other passion. One day while I was living in Italy, I had an opportunity to audition for an action movie. I’ve always loved action movies. During that process, I thought I would really love doing this, even though it was my first time, and I was terrified. That was the moment that sparked curiosity in me. Fast forward eight months after that audition and I was on a plane to Los Angeles, and I started my acting career.

You’ve also worked as a stunt performer. How did this come about?

I’ve been doing martial arts for a long time. I’ve always loved the stunts that are involved in action movies. My goal and my dream is to be an action star. I want to be able to do stunts and know how they work. As an actor, I can move and am able to do some of my own stunts, even though most of the time I will be doubled for the big stunts. Some stunts are crazy and very dangerous, so I don’t do those, but I love fight choreography and all the cool ninja stuff!

Unfortunately, I don’t work a lot in stunts because it’s a whole different career and acting is my priority. I would not be able to do both full-time. There have been a few occasions where I’ve been chosen for an acting role where I got to do stunts, like sprinting, street fighting, and martial arts action. I did Muay Thai for years and wanted to use my martial arts skills in my acting roles, so that has been my little secret!

I am preparing myself for action movies, just like Keanu Reeves. He does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a lot of his own stunts. That’s the goal, keep training.

Is there a particular role you’ve had where that has been a challenging stunt you’ve had to complete?

I honestly have not done the big challenging stunts. I prefer to stay away from the bigger stuff as it takes a long time to develop those skills and don’t want to take too much risk that can interfere with my acting. I have done ratchets which is a type of wire stunt where you get pulled on a wire by a machine. You have to be strong and prepare your body for the impact. My neck did not like it the morning after! It was pretty challenging. I actually did my first wirework stunt super high up when I shot Borderlands, a cinematic trailer of the video game and I was the first live-action character from the game. We were in Croatia, and I had to do these scenes where I fly away and it was all wirework. I was a little scared, but I acted like it was no problem!

You’ve worked on a number of video games and you play a lead role in the new video game APEX Legends. What sort of training and preparation is involved?

I love that process. When I got the audition, they were looking for somebody to portray the character and all her details, but at the same time be able to do martial arts and swords. I’ve been training in both and have reached a very high level. I prepared for almost a month, and I would train every day to build my stamina with my swords. I was doing single and double swords with all kinds of movements for Ash’s character. I had to be creative to design the moves. After an hour or two you start feeling the swords movements in your wrists and tendons, so I had to do a lot of training prior to the shoot days, so I would have the stamina to stay eight or nine hours on set and do that kind of work. We came up with a lot of different combinations for the choreography. I trained with Mike Chat, the creator of XMA, Xtreme Martial Arts. XMA is a fusion of all kinds of martial arts, dance, gymnastics, performing arts, and weapons such as swords, bow staffs, nunchucks, and kamas. These skills have been very useful to me.

Games are becoming far more cinematic…

Absolutely, they are amazing. I see these trailers and they are so great. The animators are so incredible and super talented. This was my first mo-cap job! I got to learn what is behind all the video games and how many people are involved and all the different stages. It’s a lot of very creative people and I’m so lucky to have worked with such a great team.

How long was the overall process?

From the moment I got the audition, probably a month. After the audition, I got a call back immediately and they wanted to see different scenes of me acting. Then I worked with the director to design the moves for ASH.

Are video games something you’d like to continue to pursue?

It’s amazing work. I always enjoy doing different things and meeting new creatives and video games today are becoming bigger and bigger, so why not? My inner child comes out and says, “Oh God, I’m a video game character!” If they come my way, then I’m more than happy to.

Is there anyone in the industry you’d particularly like to collaborate with?

I have a bunch, but I am a big fan of Denzel Washington. Growing up he was my favorite actor and I actually got to see him at a Q&A for Fences. I was stunned. I love his work ethic, his wisdom, and motivational speeches. I would love to work with him as a director, or actor. I also would love to work with Anthony Hopkins. I’d love to play piano with him. Have you listened to the waltz that he composed? It’s unbelievable!

Are there any projects in the pipeline?

I’m working on an AI project that has a lot of action in it. I can’t say too much, but I have been preparing and training a lot! I love these types of roles and apparently, they come to me very often. I recently worked with Channing Tatum on a film called Dog, which he stars in and co-directed. I really enjoyed working with him, he’s super funny. I have another movie coming out called The Russian Room in which I play the lead. I play a very tough person and I’m the boss, with some very dangerous people. It’s a very different side of me!

What are you currently watching/reading?

I finished reading the Will Smith book, Will. It’s a very interesting story that shows you the journey of the biggest movie star in Hollywood. I am also reading Neale Donald Walsch’s, Conversation with God. It’s a beautiful book and I highly recommend it to everybody. I’ve been watching Yellowstone and Succession which I really love. I’m also trying to watch good old movies, like some of Meryl Streeps’ first films such as Sophie’s Choice.

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