For his new action flick, Haywire, Steven Soderbergh didn’t want a star who could only pretend-fight. He wanted a knockout who could actually knock you out. And he got one in mixed martial artist and ex-American Gladiator Gina CaranoOn the surface, it’s like countless other action films starring women: Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire focuses on a beautiful, tough-as-nails secret agent who beats the living crap out of the men who get in her way (including Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender). The difference is that this time the star—Gina Carano, a.k.a. the Face of Women’s MMA—could, in fact, kill you with her foot. Soderbergh was so smitten with her after seeing her fight on TV that he custombuilt Haywire to showcase her debutante prettiness and skull-crushing thighs. In person, Carano, who has the equivalent of a master’s degree in punching, is surprisingly gentle. “I am not a violent person,” she insists. “I actually don’t like to hurt people.” So why do it? “I like fighting,” she says, “because it’s honest.” In Haywire‘s third act, the villain warns a henchman that it would be a mistake to think of Carano’s character as a woman. As if such a thing were possible, on-screen or off. “The guys I date always want to test my strength and wrestle around,” she says, laughing. “By the end, they’re drenched in sweat.” Poor guys. That sounds just awful.