Exclusive: Boxing Legend Ann Wolfe Talks Playing Artemis In Wonder Woman, Her Film Debut

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Exclusive: Boxing Legend Ann Wolfe Talks Playing Artemis In Wonder Woman, Her Film Debut
Posted by Wilson Morales

June 7, 2017

Currently in theaters from Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics is the action adventure Wonder Woman,  directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot in the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.

The film defied all expectations and took in over $100M at the box office during its opening weekend, making Jenkins the first woman to do so with a feature.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

The film also stars Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui.

In Diana’s home of Themyscira, there’s a diversity of women playing Amazons, including Ann Ogbomo as Philippus, Ann Wolfe as Artemis, Eleanor Matsuura as Epione, Josette Simon as Mnemosyne, Jacqui-Lee Pryce as Niobe, Mayling Ng as Orana, Samantha Jo as Euboea, Florence Kasumba as Senator Acantha.

For those who are not aware, Ann Wolfe is making her film debut but to the rest of the world, she’s a world champion boxer with eight world titles in four different weight classes. She holds a record of 24-1, with 16 of her wins being by KO. Retired from the sport since 2006, she currently trains both female and male boxers.

“The legend @annwolfeboxing is our Artemis! Who else should be one of the greatest warrior Amazons, but the best female boxer in history,” Jenkins tweeted back in March.

Born an Amazon to the Egyptian tribe of Bana-Mighdall, Artemis is a fearsome, crossbow-wielding warrior who is loyal ally of the Amazon princess.  Her abilities range from expertise in various weaponry, fluency of demonic languages and hand-to-hand combat. This coupled with being ageless and having magical weapons at her disposal like the sandals of Hermes and the gauntlets of Atlas, make Artemis a force to be reckoned with. Created by writer William Messner-Loebs and artist Mike Deodato, Artemis first appeared in the September 1994 issue of Wonder Woman (#90).

Some could say that Wolfe’s life has the makings for a film itself. According to an article written in mystatesman.com, before her life turned around through boxing, Wolfe had gone through “incarceration, homelessness as a young mother in Austin, a violent marriage to a drug dealer in her teens, illiteracy and the heartbreak of losing both parents at the age of 18.”

In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Wolfe talks about getting the role, working with Patty, and with the other Amazons.

How did the role come about for you?

Ann Wolfe: Patty Jenkins’ husband Sam Sheridan was a Thai boxer. He had written a book about the sport and so he knew who I was and so did Patty. The character Artemis is an ass kicker and that’s me, a real kind-hearted person but rough around the edges and not afraid to fight. They had already started auditions and Patty was like, “I want Ann Wolfe to play this part.” They called me up and at first, the producers were skeptical and said that “Ann Wolfe had not done one single acting lesson.” They asked if I could come down for a week to see if I could play the part. I got there and met Patty and Gal Gadot. Gal looked at me and then looked at Patty and said “This is Artemis.” Chris Pine came over and he was kind and polite. The next day I went to the gym and Connie Nielsen came in and she didn’t know who I was. I had to lose 20 to 30 pounds so I could train myself. They ordered everything I needed including a driver and cook. Then she sat by me and we spoke for an hour, had dinner and she also said, “You’re Artemis!” In boxing, I had to prove myself in everything I have ever done. This was the first time the producers were skeptical but everyone else on the set believed I could do it. I never had that happened to me in my life.

How much did you know about Wonder Woman?

Ann Wolfe: I knew the regular stuff about Wonder Woman. I knew the show that played in the 70s. We didn’t have a TV growing up so I didn’t watch anything and I had never walked into a movie theater until I was in my 30s. I had children the first time I step inside a movie theater. I just knew Batman and Robin, Superman and Wonder Woman, and she was just as strong as the guys. That’s all I knew.

When you got the role, did you look the character from the comic books?

Ann Wolfe: I did look up the character. At first, because they didn’t tell me who I was playing, I was looking up Philippus. Then I was told that’s not who I would be playing, and I was like, “Huh?” Who else is black from her world? Then I was told it would be Artemis. I was like, “Artemis is a red-head white lady.” After I looked up her background, then I knew I am Artemis.

Diversity is being more noticed in films than ever before. How does it feel to be one of the few Black actresses to be featured in the film?

Ann Wolfe: I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Louisiana, so no one can tell me about being black at all. When I walked out there, dressed in that costume, it was the scene in the film where I’m on top on something fighting. There wasn’t anyone else up there but me and I could see every shade of women. That’s what made me so proud. I had seen dark-skinned women, medium-skinned women, Hispanics, Asians, Whites and everything you can name. I remembered after the scene, I walked up to Patty and told her it felt so good to look out there and know that every little girl will be able to say, “That is how I am. I’m strong like that. That’s my color.” I never felt that color vibe when I was out there.

How does it feel to be one of the black women in the cast? It just means that I’m carrying, not just being an Amazon, but being a Black woman as well. I just don’t look at the black part of it or the strong woman part of it. I’m a mother and I want all young girls to be able to say, “You know what? I can relate to this as well.” That’s what happening now. My part was big enough for me to get a call when I needed to get called. It makes me proud to be a black Amazon. It makes me proud to be a strong Amazon and the whole nine yards. It makes you have to understand that there is a give and take in everything because we have young children that are looking up to certain things.

How was working with the other Amazons?

Ann Wolfe: Ann Ogbomo and I worked together as well as with the other girls. For whatever reason, the clique I hung out with was Ann and Connie Nielsen. When I’m not training, I’m quiet. Connie lifted me up high to the sky. She has thing she does for young girls in Africa. So many people from Connie and Patty and others are doing things behind the scene, no matter what color they are. That’s what I got out from this movie. When my part came up during the premiere, she and Patty started clapping. When you have the director of the film clapping for you and you’re only on the screen for a few seconds, that’s something.

You don’t have much to say in the film, but when your part came up, were you nervous?

Ann Wolfe: No, I wasn’t nervous. I’m that type of person where I had life so bad, I had nothing to be nervous about. There were a lot of things that were cut from the movie, including people and their part. Even though my part in the film is small, some scenes I filmed were cut. I had a scene with just Wonder Woman and myself. There was this one African American who’s only part was to pull a bow, and I told her to pull it like your life depended on it.

Now that you have your first film wrapped, are you planning to get more into this business?

Ann Wolfe: I got a feel for this and I liked it. If the film is done right and if it could help a lot of people, yes. It’s not about making money. People are going to look at me on TV and say, “That woman used to be homeless, but look at what she can do.” Patty and the producer treated me like I was Diana. They gave me a driver, a car and everything. I got treated very well.

Do you think your story can told for the big screen and if so, who would you want to play you?

Ann Wolfe: I can’t say who can play me. A lot of people are trying to do the story and want to do the story, but I want to make sure the story is done right. It doesn’t have to be a person who is as muscular as me. It just has to be a person who is as strong as me mentally. If I can find someone who is as passionate as Patty was with this film, they can be two feet tall. It might someone who is big or not. I just want someone that loves what they do. When I look at Viola Davis, I don’t see an Oscar winner or someone with money. I see someone who is passionate to what they do. When you look at her work, you see the passion and that’s what I saw in Patty.


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