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Pulling Punches at the 'Haywire' Screening

On Wednesday night at the Lower East Side restaurant Sons of Essex, Gina Carano feted her major movie debut in the Steven Soderbergh-helmed flick.

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Sons of Essex

Gina Carano and Steven Soderbergh

Photo By Steve Eichner

On Wednesday night at the Lower East Side restaurant Sons of Essex, Gina Carano, newly minted action star and one-time professional mixed-martial-arts fighter, was looking less than capable of bodily harm. The budding actress’ major movie debut, the Steven Soderbergh-helmed “Haywire,” had just shown around the corner at the Landmark Sunshine Theater at a screening hosted by the Cinema Society and BlackBerry Bold. In the film, Carano kicks, punches and grapples her way through several continents and a handful of leading men, but in the booth she occupied with Soderbergh and co-star Ewan McGregor, she was subdued. The former cage fighter (professional record of 8-1, with three knockouts) sported a little black dress covered with a matching jacket and said she was enjoying the premiere scene thus far.

“I like to get dressed up,” she said with a shy smile.

“Oh god,” she said breaking into a laugh when asked for the make on the dress. “I’m wearing Bebe.”

A crowd of assorted New York-screening-circuit regulars, including Tony Danza, Gina Gershon, Jessica White and Stephen Baldwin, filled out the rest of the restaurant. At the bar, Elizabeth Banks took a break from chatting with Justin Bartha to discuss the politics of female fighting.

“I only fight when I have the moral high ground or I’m fighting for my family,” Banks said. “Also, I’m small and I’m Irish, so I fight very dirty. I gotta be honest with you — I was disappointed that she didn’t bite anybody, rip anyone’s eye off, stick her hands down someone’s throat to choke them out. I would have gone in and grabbed the vocal chords and ripped them. And she didn’t go for any ’nads. As a female fighter, I find that unbelievable, frankly.”

Perhaps she’d care to take all of this up with Carano?

“It’s never going to happen,” Banks laughed. “She seems like a lovely person.”