In “The Old Guard,” Charlize Theron plays Andy, a centuries-old leader of a small band of fellow immortal warriors who discover that a Marine named Nile (Kiki Layne) is one of them after she survives a fatal attack by a terrorist while on tour in the Middle East.

The first days of shooting the new Netflix film involved an explosive fight scene in a plane between Theron and Layne.

“They threw me right into it,” Layne told Variety, laughing. “But I’m grateful for it. I think it was really essential for the relationship that Charlize and I had to build that kind of mirrored Andy and Nile’s relationship to start in that place.”

Theron agreed. “We did it purposely,” she said. “There was a real thought behind wanting to shoot that first because I think that scene set the tone for the whole movie.”

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood has made it her mission to give Black women starring roles on the big screen. “When I took the film, what I loved about it was that it was organically diverse and that it was this group of warriors from different cultures and backgrounds and sexual orientations that have come together as this unique family to protect humanity. I really loved that,” Prince-Bythewood said. “And now what this pandemic has absolutely shown is how connected globally that we are. Now some are obviously continuing to fight against that, but hopefully they will be gone soon. But we do absolutely need each other.”

“And then with Black Lives Matter, I’ve known it my whole life, but finally the nation, globally, Hollywood is starting to listen” she continued. “And we are putting young Black female heroes into the world, which is so needed. Not only for our community to see ourselves that way, but also for the world to see us that way, see our humanity, see a character that they can be inspired by.”

Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli also play gay couple who is part of Andy’s group of mercenaries. “For me, it was one of the most important elements of doing this movie,” Kenzari told Variety, adding, “It was important. I thought it was very authentic and original and it moved me as well.”

Marinelli said, “I’m very proud of sharing this wonderful message of love. It’s incredible, this love story.”

Written by Marc Malkin