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Kebbel on training to protect were-tigers and witches on ‘Midnight, Texas’

From were-tigers and witches to demons and psychics, the town of Midnight is a haven for outsiders. Locals like hit-woman Olivia Charity band together to fight off external pressures from biker gangs and more to take care of home.

This is “Midnight, Texas,” based on author Charlaine Harris’ “Midnight, Texas” trilogy, which premieres on Monday, July 24 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

Olivia Charity, played by Arielle Kebbel, has a weapon for every occasion — sometimes using double guns, knives, and snipers to protect the town.

In preparation for the role, Kebbel trained with stunt/fight coordinator John Koyama of Brand X Stunts, who has over 100 stunt and acting credits to his name. He’s worked on major films like “Furious 7,” “Book of Eli,” “Daredevil” and more.

espnW did a training session with Kebbel and Koyama in West Hollywood, California, to see just how Kebbel transformed into an assassin for the scripted series.

espnW: Tell me more about your character Olivia Charity.

Kebbel: Nobody messes with Olivia. She protects the town. She had a very tough childhood, and we get to know not only her physical strength but her inner strength as well. I hope viewers see the light and the dark in the character and accept it all. Without judgment.

espnW: How often did you train?

Kebbel: We were filming about six days a week. Even if I didn’t have a fight scene, I trained every day to prepare for the next scene and just to stay in shape. We’d do a number of weapons, fight training and boxing. We didn’t have a gym on set. So, John and I would break up workouts in between scenes.

We’d be in the production office, and I would have my hands on the floor, my legs on an office chair and then roll the chair until I did a sit-up followed by a push-up. That taught me that you can work out anywhere. It’s part of the challenge which makes it fun.


espnW: What was your warm-up routine like?

Kebbel: We usually stretch and use a vibrating roller for about 15-20 minutes before we start training. Growing up dancing and doing other sports, I already knew how to stretch, but what I didn’t know was how sore I was going to get from this specific training and how much the roller would help with soreness.

espnW: Why did you choose to do most of your stunts?

Kebbel: It was rewarding to do nearly all of my stunts. I work so hard and wanted to be able to say: “that was my kick” or “I threw that punch.” It’s so much more impactful if you can see my face while throwing a punch.

espnW: What sports did you play growing up?

Kebbel: I was a competitive horseback rider when I was younger. My first dream in life was to be an Olympic gold medalist as an equestrian. I later moved into hip-hop dance, and I even medaled in a few competitions. I also did volleyball, track, and other sports. I constantly needed to be moving and sweating.

Then I found acting. I remember when I first fell in love with it. I visited a set, and the adrenaline was just like when I used to compete as a horseback rider. Just like how I would count my strides into a jump [when horseback riding], once they called “action” on set, I had to take the jump like when riding and throw myself into character.

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