Stephanie Cayo: Working in a “Force of Nature”

From working on an action set, to acting alongside Mel Gibson, actress Stephanie Cayo gives us a look into a heist movie within the eye of a storm
From working on an action set, to acting alongside Mel Gibson, actress Stephanie Cayo gives us a look into a heist movie within the eye of a storm

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Peruvian actress Stephanie Cayo could most recently be seen in Netflix’s “Como Caído del Cielo” as spunky and comedic Samantha. With her newest film, “Force of Nature”, she takes on a very different role as a rookie police officer with a lot on her plate as she navigates an enemy threat while in the middle of a catastrophic hurricane in Puerto Rico.

Cayo recently spoke to EO about the experience on the film, from working alongside a diverse cast and Hollywood veterans, to getting to know the very physical world of an action movie, among other things.

Starring alongside Cayo are Mel Gibson, Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth, and William Catlett, who is most known for his recurring role on the show “Black Lightning”.

The film centers on two police officers, Cardillo (Hirsch) and Peña (Cayo), who are tasked with trying to get a couple of holdout residents from an apartment building to evacuate during a worsening storm.

Among the unwieldy residents wanting to remain in their building are Gibson’s character Ray, a battered and worn out retiree who once was a police officer as well.

Rounding out the stay-in-place gang are Ray’s daughter Troy (Bosworth) an older art collector, and Griffin (William Catlett), a man who definitely has something to hide from the police.

Among all this happening are a group of thieves are lurking, wanting to secure a payday within the apartment building. It is a lot going on!

Thanks for the time Stephanie. For starters, I wanted to know in your own words what is going on in the Force of Nature story, what starts the events of the film.

It is a story of retired officers from New York who are going to retire to Puerto Rico. The character of Mel Gibson, and the character of Emile Hirsch. I am the police, who believe that I have to help others and as police, do the right thing.

[I’m going] to a building where all the people have to be taken out to get them to safety, because [a] hurricane is happening and she meets a gang of thieves who are chasing a major art collection, so she has to save the people in the building and her partner [Emile Hirsch].

Can you tell me a bit about your character Jess Peña and how you prepared for that role?

Jess is a great girl; she asks to be transferred from one neighborhood to a more dangerous one. And all this just happens because she wants to [move forward], she wants to learn and she wants to do well, she wants to work and she wants to help others – that’s why she’s a policeman.

So, I think it gives the film that fresh air because she’s the youngest of all and is still learning a lot. And for the movie I had a lot to learn. I was doing the action scenes by myself, alongside the other stunt doubles. And it was great because I’ve never done it before, I’ve never done an action movie [like this one]. It was fun.

What was it like filming in what looks like narrow hallways in the apartment complex and a generally small space?

Yes, it was a bit complicated because of that, and we also had all the wind machines [there]. We were wet all the time [too], but it was cool, and it was pretty good inside. We were not that big of a crew either.

What was it like to work with such a diverse cast?

Well, they are actors of a good international stature, and they have worked hard and have a lot of experience. The truth is that Mel was super good with me, super respectful and a good partner, since [many] scenes are with him, I made the most of everything.

And as you say, in the movie there is a lot of time where you are acting with Mel Gibson, can you talk a little more about what it was like to work alongside him?

Mel is a genuine guy; he is a very authentic guy and full of energy. It is great because despite all the years he has been doing this in the industry, he is still a little boy, he is still excited by everything and it is great to meet a partner so he is willing to create and play, and generate this space for this.

The film takes place in Puerto Rico and although it is in English there are times when you speak Spanish. Was there an opportunity to improvise with those actors the moments where you speak in Spanish?

Everything that is in Spanish and all this was actually improvised at the time, it was not written in the script, it just happened, and I started speaking in Spanish and the director liked it and encouraged me to keep doing it.

 And what did you like most about working on this movie?

Well, the truth was that it was my first experience with actors of that stature, in a friendly place, Puerto Rico, with a Latino crew. I liked my character because she is a strong girl who fights back, isn’t important solely based on her looks, or on a love story. She is an intelligent girl and her purpose, her wishes, are good.

Lastly, I wanted to know why would you recommend watching “Force of Nature”?

Because you can see it with the whole family in these moments of quarantine, [although] it’s action it has no “naughty” scenes. And it is a movie that does its job, it is entertaining, fun, and I think the public will like it.

“Force of Nature” is now available to buy or rent digitally.