In an with Entertainment Weekly, Peter admits that Rihanna wasn’t exactly on his radar until he saw her highly publicized interview with Diane Sawyer after the 2009 incident. When the role for ‘Battleship’ came about, he called her in for an improv session and was immediately blown away.
I’d obviously seen [Rihanna’s] videos and was a fan of hers. The videos were really sexy and obviously, you know, very entertaining to say the least. But what first caught my eye about Rihanna was an interview she did with Diane Sawyer after the Chris Brown incident, where she was very articulate, very poised, obviously a smart girl who talked about a very traumatic experience. That was a legitimate, violent, real experience that would traumatize anyone. I thought she handled herself very well. I was intrigued. That was the first time I really remember Rihanna kind of coming on my radar, someone that was more than just kind of a sexy girl that sang hip-hop songs.Peter went on to explain Rihanna’s audition process, her reaction when she found out she had snagged the part and her ability to do her own stunts in the film:
On what happened when he reached out to RihannaVia Entertainment Weekly
I asked to meet her, she came in in a pair of blue jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops, and for two hours we just improv’d. She read all the roles in the movie. She read Liam Neeson’s role in a Valley girl accent, just this really kind of crazed, slightly off-balance Valley girl, which is very funny. She improvised. She cried. She did it as if she was drunk. She did it as if she was a nun.
What I was looking for with her was a sense of adventure. You know to me, being a good actor, the most important quality is you’ve got to love to play, and to just be open to anything. And this girl clearly was. I knew right away that she’d be great, I knew what the demands of the role were, that I’m not asking her to carry a film.
On Rihanna’s reaction when she got the part
She called me and she said, “I’ll do it, but please you have to promise me you won’t treat me special, you’ll treat me like you would any other actor, you’ll make me work and you won’t go easy on me.” And I’m like, “Deal.” She stayed in the same crappy hotels that we stayed in; she got there at 6 a.m. and left at 10 p.m. sometimes. She was on that boat in the where there are no except for jumping in the water. She never complained and she worked her ass off. I couldn’t be happier with her.
On Rihanna doing her own stunts
No, I had no idea. The first real stunt she had to do — or that we had her stunt double do — was when Taylor Kitsch gets blasted back [from the alien ship] and she has to run out of the [boat] and pull him up [out of the ocean]. We were about a mile out in the ocean, there are sharks in the area so you have snipers and rescue swimmers. You’re out there pretty far and there’s lots of things that could go wrong.
So we put her stunt double in and Rihanna stood next to me at the monitor. The stunt double did it and Rihanna got real quiet. The stunt double did it again, and I could feel something was going on with [Rihanna]. I go, “What?” She says, “I don’t like the way she runs.” The stunt double wasn’t very athletically. Rihanna said, “Can I do it?”
I said, “I don’t know. I don’t think, it’s really that safe or that smart. It’s trained stunt doubles, it’s not that easy to run through water, you know, that’s [knee] high.” She said, “Let me do it once.” She jumped out of that [boat], sprinted across a hundred times more effectively than the stunt double, grabbed Taylor, yanked his ass up.
I didn’t know how physical and agile she’d be. The girl is extraordinarily agile. That’s all her, getting slammed against walls, you know, being able to take a hit, throwing punches, shooting. She did all of it. Good for you Rih Rih!!!