After hitting the big screen in the 2008 action flick Death Race alongside Jason Statham, beautiful Miami native Natalie Martinez became a nightly favorite in our primetime schedule, playing the sexy but tough-as-nails homicide Detective Sanchez on Detroit 1-8-7.
Appearing in this weekend’s intense cop thriller End of Watch alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, our newest woman to watch plays the role of Gabby, Peña’s character’s wife who knows the stakes of her husband’s line of duty.
We sat down with Martinez before the film’s premiere to chat about her hot new film, the power of a gun and her surprising guilty pleasure.
Playboy.com: Tell us about your new film, End of Watch.
Martinez: End of Watch is a story of brotherhood, of loyalty, of partners and relationships. It’s about two cops, played by Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal, and follows what they do, the things they go through as police officers. You get a good inside look as to how cops really are.
Playboy.com: Tell us about your character, Gabby.
Martinez: I play Michael Peña’s wife, (Anna Kendrick plays Jake Gyllenhaal’s other half,) and I feel it really humanizes (Peña) a little more. There are always these [negative cop] stories that you see; this one shows you can have two honest men with good intentions and what they go through. [Gabby’s] a very strong woman, she’s in a very secure relationship. Meeting cops’ wives and knowing a few of them, you have to be a strong woman. They have to deal with when they say goodbye to their partners they don’t know if they will ever walk back through that door. They were high school sweethearts.
Playboy.com: The film is primarily shot with a handheld camera; what was the decision behind that?
Martinez: When I first got the script it said, “This film will be shown as ‘found footage.’ ” (The camera) makes it feel like you’re with them in the car, part of the story and part of the action — it makes it all the more dramatic and intense ’cause you feel like you’re going through it with them.
Playboy.com: What is it like with a fake pregnant belly stuck to you?
Martinez: It was fun! I got to take the belly out a couple of times and walk around with it and get a feel for it. Once I went out on the street I could see that mothers have this secret alliance. I get looks differently — just knowing what you’re going through. It was a trip!
Playboy.com: You’ve filmed some pretty violent work between End of Watch, procedural cop dramas and, of course, Death Race; what has drawn you to these roles?
Martinez: I love action films. I love doing them, and they are so much fun. I like being that tough chick. There is a sense of power when holding a gun. This movie I really didn’t get to be all up in that action, but I have played them before. I’ve played a detective; I’m on CSI: New York right now. I like doing these roles, I like being physical.
Playboy.com: You have a political thriller called Broken City coming up. What can you tell us about it?
Martinez: I haven’t seen it yet — it’s in post (production) right now. I just can’t wait because it was such a great script and Allen Hughes is a very talented director. Of course, you have Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, so it’s definitely an interesting movie. I play Mark Wahlberg’s longtime girlfriend. He’s torn between what’s going on in our relationship and what’s going on in his career. Mark and I had a fight scene that was probably the most intense part of the entire shoot.
Playboy.com: What sort of training have you done to keep up with these roles?
Martinez: I love MMA, and I was doing Muay Thai for a while. I really like training; that’s one of my hobbies. It’s a constant work in progress. The more you do it the better you get.
Playboy.com: What has been your most challenging role to date?
Martinez: Broken City was really hard. But in End of Watch I had to cry for like 10 hours straight. We shot the ending of the film three different ways.
Playboy.com: Lightning Round. Favorite:
Drink: Vodka on the rocks.
Food: Korean BBQ.
Shot: Come on, I’m doing vodka on the rocks. But hey, Jameson.
Pickup line: “Want to play Michael Jackson Dance on the Wii?” [laughs]
Dream Car: ’65 Chevy Malibu.
Secret Talent: Whenever somebody says something, I can reference it back to a song. I do it a lot with DMX. Like when someone says “I met her…” “…at an ice cream parlor!”
Guilty Pleasure: Korean BBQ is my guilty pleasure. You can put a pound of meat in front of me and I’d eat it all. I’m also an ice cream freak.
Playboy.com: Would meat ice cream do it for you?
Martinez: Ewwww. Actually, there’s this one place that has Maple Bacon Ice Cream, which is pretty good.
Radio Hit: I listen to a lot of Spanish music right now.
Embarrassing Moment: I just laugh about things.
Playboy.com: What projects do you have coming up?
Martinez: I’m doing CSI: New York right now. I’ve done about five or six (episodes) so far. It’s open-ended because I haven’t died yet. [laughs]
End of Watch releases nationwide this Friday. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NatMartinez_