livia Munn, who plays a badass mutant with serious martial-arts skills in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse,” says there’s no need to label someone a nerd or geek because tech is everywhere. By Connie Guglielmo
Read time: 9 minutes / March 14, 2016
Olivia Munn plays first-person shooter games, loves her smart home and says she’ll be the first to invest in flying hoverboards.
But don’t call the actress, who grew up tinkering with PCs, a nerd or a geek.
“Before, we had to learn how to type on the computer without looking at your fingers. Now, [kids] learn to code. The world has changed,” says Munn, 35. “We’ve moved past whether you’re a geek or a nerd. It’s just part of our life.”
Munn’s attitude might be a surprise given she’s starring in “X-Men: Apocalypse” (out this May), based on the Marvel comics that many associate with geek culture. Munn was keen to play Psylocke, a telepathic mutant and martial-arts master whose weapon of choice is a telekinetic katana. “She’s a really, really strong badass female character in this comic book world where a lot of times the women don’t get to be strong and badass.”
Munn spoke with Connie Guglielmo, editor in chief of CNET News, about preferring PCs over Macs and why she’s waiting for someone to invent a Tesla-like hoverboard. Here’s an edited transcript of their conversations.
When did you start playing with tech?
My first vivid memory is of a family computer we all had to share. We had this computer game — it was the summer Olympics — and there was a sumo-wrestling game. That was the game I preferred to play more than anything else. Sumo wrestling was my sport. I remember playing it so much — and at this point, I might be 8 years old — I beat the game and broke the game at the same time. I was so proud of myself.
The family story was I beat it so bad that I broke it. I think it’s more like there was a malfunction in the game and I happened to win by default.
You say you’re a “PC girl” who prefers Samsung Galaxy phones over Apple products. Why?
I know it’s really cool to be into Apple and Macs, but for me it’s always been cooler to have a PC because you can build on it and tear it apart. With a Mac, it just is what it is.
I love the Apple interface; the way it works is superb. I have Microsoft Surfaces and iPads, [but] I use Surfaces because the iPad drives me crazy. Whenever I sign off, it asks me about iCloud. This whole Apple mentality — I feel like I’ve inadvertently signed up for something I can’t get away from. It’s like I bought something on some shady website and I can’t get off. I just wanted that one designer purse and now I can’t get out of it!
I also have a problem that [Apple products] change all the time. “We’re going to capitalize on your need to have the most current one every time, so every few months we’re going to put out a new one and you never know. And that charger you had won’t work — so throw it out.”
Some people say there’s too much tech in our lives. What do you think?
Kids aren’t getting outside as much because they’re inside playing games on their iPads. That definitely is going on. But when has that not happened whenever new things were introduced into our world?
Technology is amazing. It’s given us the gift of time. You can be in more than one place at a time. If you choose, you can spend more time with your family because of technology. If you want, you can spend more time with your work because you have everything in your hand. I don’t think [there] should be a whole day designated to no phones. It’s like if somebody told me you can’t eat bread anymore. I’d be like, “Aw, I’ll just sit in my house and be sad.”
But don’t you see a downside to all that tech?
The easier things are for you, the easier they are for the bad guys. If it’s really easy to deposit a check into your bank account by just taking a picture and sending it in, it’s going to be easier for the hacker to…get into your account. You have to be smart about it, but it doesn’t mean you have to shun it. We just have to figure it out and be smart.
Do you consider yourself a geek or a nerd?
It’s funny. I think if you’re a geek or a nerd, it’s something you actually don’t have to talk about. I mean, I don’t have to talk to people about how many hours of sleep I get every night. I don’t have to say if I like ketchup with my steak. When you’re a geek or a nerd, there’s just things that are what you like and who you are.
Before, we had to learn how to type on the computer without looking at your fingers. Now, [kids] learn to code. We’ve moved past whether you’re a geek or a nerd. [Technology] is just part of our life.
You like first-person shooter games. What are your favorites?
I love Assassins Creed. I just got the Halo download code for Xbox. I’m so excited to play that.
I like the first-person shooters because I feel more capable. Instead of looking out from afar, it feels different when the screen becomes your eyes. And so I just kind of leaned into that a little bit more.
But what I play on a daily basis is a trivia game called Category Quiz. The categories that I typically pick are tech, science, animals, food, geography. I’m not good at art and literature. I’m not good at history. Politics I’m OK with. Economics, I’m good at, thankfully. But art, literature and history — those are for the birds. I get so sleepy on those things.
Your house has a lot of tech in it. Tell us about it.
My home is officially a smart home, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened. I think it’s the coolest, most functional system I’ve ever used. I’ve had different iterations of technology. They work for like a day while the person’s there with you and then soon after that, everything just starts to fall apart. But I have this really great system with all these different TVs. I’m big on TVs.
I also have a really great security system that is connected to my phone [and] also controls my lighting. So I can be lying on the couch and if I don’t want to get up to get the lights over there, I just turn on my phone and I can just lower the lights. That’s awesome.
The biggest thing, I think, about a smart home is that you are more safe. I can set my alarm from my house anywhere, and if somebody needs to get in because something happened or a pipe breaks, I can unlock the house from my phone and undo the alarm. And then as soon as they’re done, I set it back on. So I feel really secure and safe.
You were an early investor in Uber. Why do you like ride sharing?
This is how I explained Uber to people when it first came out and they didn’t know what Uber was: It’s like always having a friend to come pick you up from anywhere, but you pay them.
Earlier, I asked you what tech you’d most like to see, and you said hoverboards like those from “Back to the Future.” That took me a little by surprise.
Really? It took you by surprise. It should be the only thing that you think about. It’s the only thing I think about on a daily basis. I feel like I’ve been robbed. I feel like the future has let us all down. It should be the only thing you think about, Connie. Every day you should think about this. This is what we should push our politicians to be working on. I mean there’s all these extra funds that are going into God knows what, but hoverboards have been promised to us from way back.
I’m driving in LA and I see all this traffic and I’m like, all this air space above us, I could be hovering around this. And I just feel like we have let ourselves down. It would be great to see a hoverboard — a Tesla hoverboard. I mean we can go to the moon, but I can’t hover over the traffic.
My home is officially a smart home, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened.
You play Psylocke in X-Men. Why did the role appeal to you?
I’ve loved Psylocke for so long. She’s a really, really strong badass female character in this comic book world where a lot of times the women don’t get to be strong and badass. You see a lot of superheroes [who] don’t always want to kill, and they’ll avoid it if they can. She’s never had a problem killing, and I like that she was the bad guy that had no problem being the bad guy. She’s telekinetic and telepathic so she can read your mind. She can create anything with her mind. To win any fights, she can just create a mountain and have it fall down on you, but she chooses to create a sword so she can kill up close and personal. I always thought that was really cool and badass.
You’ve just sold an idea for a TV show about female sports journalists in the ’70s. Why that subject?
We see all the issues women are still dealing with, and how uneven things are for us compared to men. When you go back and look just in the 1970s, [you see] a lot of the same things today. I mean it could just simply be today. It’s not just female sports reporters. You see all of the struggles we go through with human rights, and what everyone is personally allowed to do or dream.
What’s so fascinating is the past could very well be the present. Hopefully it’s not the future. Well, in the future we’ll be on hoverboards. If you know of somebody who knows anybody making a hoverboard, I would like to invest.
See more behind the scenes from our Q&A with Olivia Munn
Psylocke Photo Credit: Michael Muller
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