We chat exclusively with Pam Grier about her character in the Call of Duty DLC ‘Shaolin Shuffle’
Iconic actress Pam Grier is known for her work in ’70s films like Coffy, Foxy Brown and more, as well as playing Amanda Waller in Smallville and her starring role in the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown. Now she’s bringing all that experience to a new role; the voice (and likeness) of the Shaolin Sister in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Continuum DLC zombie co-op game, Shaolin Shuffle. We got a chance to chat exclusively with Grier about the game and what’s coming. We found out early on what a huge gamer she is and how she loves playing. She also does a lot of charity work for groups like Pilots and Paws, which rescues animals. Lee Ross, Associate Project Director at Infinity Ward, the co-lead on their zombies modes was along for the interview to give us some more info. The DLC will premiere on PlayStation 4 on April 18, along with four new multiplayer maps. Check out what Grier and Ross had to say about the game, the film characters the Shaolin Sister is based on and more! You can also check out the trailer below!
ComingSoon.net: We know you’re a gamer. What do you play?
Pam Grier: I started with Atari! Before then, chess. That’s how I started playing games, because I loved checkers, chess back in the day. When it became electronic, Atari was the first one, of course. I had a hissy fit when they made Game Boy and didn’t make a Game Girl. You know I was upset! [laughs] I raised the roof! I even called them up, “You know, what it is? Do you know who this is?”
CS: Did you really call Nintendo?
Pam Grier: I did! When the Wii came out, you couldn’t get it. I got one in Vancouver, and I gave it to all of my cast maters in The L Word. In my motorhome, when they couldn’t find me; “That damn Wii! We’re going to take it away from her!” I was playing everything. I have a PlayStation 1, two, three, four – I have so many, it’s like, can I keep up with this? I play with my nephews when it’s cold and snowing… we play Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto. I was in Grand Theft Auto V as Mama G. I liked Tomb Raider, because I wanted to play her. Damnit, I can at least play the game! [laughs] I’m fascinated by the illustrations, the art, the art direction is amazing. The explosions and the movement, it’s just… l just like to look at the set design. Oh, wow, oh, we were playing a game? Sorry! I’m just enthralled by it… I could not leave my house if people [didn’t say] Pam, you have other things to do in life… I also have pinball machines. I have the Star Wars pinball machine, and I have the X-Men pinball machine!
CS: Tell us about your character in this game.
Pam Grier: I’m a Shaolin Sister! Red beans and rice don’t miss her! [laughs] She’s a force, and she has wisdom and she’s a sensei. Well, she is a sensei.
Lee Ross: She’s a sensei, but she’s also going to be sort of the ear to the ground, the voice of the streets for all of the unspoken victims of Manhattan that have been invaded by this terrible menace.
Pam Grier: Terrible menace, and the terrible menace is awesome! He’s a rotten, terrible, awesome menace! Does that make you drool?
Pam Grier: Oh, and the graphic designs, the color, everything is going to be extraordinary. When I first heard that I was going to be offered this opportunity, I didn’t want to tell them I’d do it for free! I just was overwhelmed because I was trying to write a game movie, where the characters go into the game. I was coming up with something… I have those late night moments because of the gaming and because of how much I enjoy it. So I came up with a concept and all of a sudden, this was better than I could do with a case of beer! [laughs] A six pack. I said, oh my god, this is a great opportunity to do this… I can bring an age group of mine to this for their kids. And the fact that people will revisit gaming from the ’80s and ’90s and into today, and be like, I have a library. This is actually fun. Pam does this. Pam crazy! I’ve seen more families, more parents spend time with their kids and this is important for them to play a couple of games with them. That’s quality family time.
CS: Are there any of your films that may have made their way into this?
Pam Grier: Kind of like, maybe Coffy, maybe? A little bit of Foxy Brown.
Lee Ross: I think the persona of a lot of her characters, you’ll kind of see bits and pieces of that. The idea was to kind of construct this character that was an ensemble of everything that she participated in, in the ’70s. So finding that rich, deep character, the embodiment of all of those characters and things coming together, that’s the Pam Grier that we’re facing in this 1970s episode. It’s the Coffy, it’s the Foxy Brown, it’s all of those things embodied into one. You’re going to get a little taste of all that bad mamma jamma stuff.
Pam Grier: I remember when I was doing the Foxy Brown martial arts stuff for the titles, they wanted me to dance slow. But martial arts is really fast. They said, “Can you slow it down?” I was like, slow it down? Like ballet dancing? Okaaay. But they had me in a bikini. I did this one leg strike, I remember I almost got cut with the elastic! I thought I was going to die! I need a gi! That hurt! I’m not going to lift my leg anymore for this! I’m sorry, y’all! [laughs] Never practice in a bikini! Don’t even try a string or a thong! You’re gonna die! So I’m in a gi [in the game]. He’s got me in a gi. I’m safe. I can do what I need to do against the arch enemies!
CS: That is amazing! Tell us about some of the characters that your character interacts with.
Lee Ross: We’ve got a returning cast of characters. Our original four; we have Ike Barinholtz as our character A.J. He’s sort of like a sleazebag of the ’70s in this episode. We have Sasheer Zamata who is playing our returning character Sally. She’s coming from being a gangster to being a disco queen, so she’s going to get to strut her stuff a little bit. Then, of course, we have Jay Pharoah. Jay is still playing the Andre character, but he’s going from this grunge rocker that he played in the ’90s episode into almost sort of like a militant brother of the ’70s. Very political activist-driven. Then last but not least, we have Seth Green. We’ve had him as a nerd and a raver in the past episodes, but now we’re bringing him forward and now he’s a punk rocker, so some of that angst and frustration and “down with the system” kind of attitude. Then we have Paul Reubens returning as Willard Wyler, the overarching villain of this whole thing.
Pam Grier: How can I not be elated? This is just totally, f****** off-the-wall crazy. I was like, I wonder what it’s going to be like! They didn’t tell me anything! I’m so excited!
CS: Did you get to record with anyone?
Pam Grier: No, I had to record by myself.
Lee Ross: But who did you get to see today?
Pam Grier: Jay, but I didn’t work with him. But I got to see him and smell him. He smells like a 29-year old! [laughs]
Lee Ross: I had to step over Jay’s tongue a few times.
CS: You do a lot of voice work. Do you prefer doing this to live-action? Or do you like that more? Maybe animation?
Pam Grier: They’re all different. One thing, if you are an actor, and you like to hear… I work with children who can’t see and some that are hearing impaired. You want to be able to do all… they’re all different disciplines. You get to stretch and use your imagination, which is what I’ve always wanted to do as an actor and as a performer. Whether it’s singing or dancing, but when you do the video… they work you to death! They don’t give you a rest. You’re like, I have to have a sports bra for this! [laughs] This is gonna kill me! Then you have the animated… I did Scooby-Doo… I did Pinky & the Brain and I won for Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child for HBO. I was nominated for an Emmy for that, because I just love doing voices all the time! I grew up on cartoons. On great Warner Bros. cartoons, and the animation was just beautiful. I was like, oh my gosh, should I be an illustrator? I loved it so much. It’s just telling stories in a different way. So to be a part of it [gaming] and not be too old where they just toss you aside. Not this old Yoda…
CS: No way!
Pam Grier: [laughs] A wild Yoda. A wild bitch Yoda! But this was absolutely, for me, just a reward for what I love so much.
CS: What can you tell us about what else we’re going to see?
Lee Ross: Yeah, this is going to be ’70s Manhattan. This is ’70s New York City. It’s a recreation of it.
Pam Grier: Isn’t there a little bit of Harlem?
Lee Ross: Yeah, it’s going to have bits and pieces of Harlem, of Hell’s Kitchen of Greenwich Village. It’s… defined as a smaller slice of the pie of what is New York City.
CS: What other weapons are there that we might find?
Lee Ross: For her character, she’ll have the katana, like I mentioned. So that’s a request for zombies fans from way, way back. But we also have nunchucks and shuriken, because, although Pam is the sensei of this episode, she’s really a ninja in disguise.
Pam Grier: I am a real ninja. And the fact that nunchucks were designed by a woman, a Chinese woman. It’s a woman’s weapon. It’s really a rolling pin and a skillet…I come from a long line of skillet-throwing women. It was great to have that in there. A women’s reference. People who practice martial arts will see that and go wow, that’s a feminist tool.
Are you guys excited to play Shaolin Shuffle when the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Continuum DLS is released on April 18? How psyched are you to see Pam Grier’s character, the Shaolin Sister? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.