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Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior speaks about her badass Ellie role in Road House

Ellie is also a formidable player in the film’s high stakes, as Daniela revealed in a recent video call with t2

Priyanka Roy  Published 23.03.24, 11:30 AM
Daniela Melchior

Daniela Melchior

Road House, now streaming on Prime Video, is an action-packed ride that follows ex-UFC fighter Dalton (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse, but quickly discovers that what he thinks is paradise is not what it seems.

Directed by Doug Liman — whose credible body of work includes The Bourne Identity, Mr and Mrs Smith and The Edge of TomorrowRoad House is a homage to the ’80s original of the same name, which starred Patrick Swayze, and also takes the spectacle and storytelling forward.


Playing the film’s leading lady — a character who she describes as “badass” — is Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior. The 27-year-old stunner, who has appeared in big-ticket Hollywood films like Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Fast X, is not limited to just being Dalton’s love interest. Ellie is also a formidable player in the film’s high stakes, as Daniela revealed in a recent video call with t2. Excerpts...

What was it about Road House and your role that spoke to you?

The fact that it is not something obvious, whether it is my character’s (Ellie) arc, the fact that the story in the end is open and is not a closed ending or whether it is their relationship (that between Ellie and Elwood Dalton, played by Jake Gyllenhaal). Also, Ellie is a badass and not a common or conventional love interest and that grabbed my attention and made me want to play her.

What, for you, is the most badass aspect of Ellie?

She can drive a boat... that is something cool for me. She is very laid back and very relaxed. She has no expectations about anything or anyone, but at the same time, if the situation requires her to fight for herself, she is ready. I learned that from her during the shooting as well.

What about her is common with you?

The one thing we have in common is that we don’t have expectations about anything and embrace everything that happens in our lives. For me, everything is a gift from the universe, and that’s what it is for Ellie too.

She met Dalton, he caught her eye, and she was interested, she tried to see what could come from that and if it was just a little of anything that she could dream of, finding someone and falling in love. That was okay for her as well learning the lesson of letting go.

In my everyday life, I try not to be attached to anything or anyone. Of course, I love my loved ones, my family and my friends, but at the same time, I try to practise detachment in a healthy way. Both of us like not owning anyone and not trying to control everything and every situation. That is something that I hope that people relate to or take from Ellie.

Is healthy detachment something that you have always practised?

Daniela as Ellie in Road House, streaming on Prime Video

Daniela as Ellie in Road House, streaming on Prime Video

Everyone is different and I believe that there are a lot of people who are way more evolved than me. When I was younger, I was just like everyone else in terms of expectations. As I grew up, I started being curious about things, learning more about myself but also trying to find ways of evolving as a human being and using that as an advantage for my work, for my everyday life and everything in general.

Portugal has a small (film) industry and sometimes it would be complicated to not have a stable job. I never had a contract with any TV channel. Most of the other actors there have contracts (with channels) for many years. Sometimes my ego would come in the way and I would question myself: ‘Am I a bad actress? Why can’t I have work all the time?’

As I started understanding more about myself, I started learning how not to question my skills as an actress.

How do you think the new Road House film takes forward the legacy of the ’80s and yet is a step up to gain fans from the new generation?

I don’t like to compare one to the other. I would say that this is a fresh take made by Doug (Liman, director). Of course, it has some things in common. But at the same time, this new one is a fresh take and a contemporary one as well.

As I said in the beginning, Ellie is an unconventional love interest. It is very interesting to see that their (Ellie and Dalton’s) story doesn’t play out like everyone expects it to. They meet each other but then they have problems. And then, in the end, they stay together.

Also, we are kind of pioneers in the way that we shot the fight scenes. I can’t describe that as well as our stunt coordinator. I can say that we have a lot of innovation but it is not that we weren’t thoughtful about it.

Jake Gyllenhaal has been delivering quality work for decades. What were your biggest learnings from watching him at work and sharing screen space with him?

It is not a secret anymore that he was the first actor that I was starstruck about! (Laughs) I don’t know why. I was very nervous when I met him for the first time via Zoom. He is so talented and I have been such a fan of his for many, many years.

In Road House, there is a scene where Dalton explodes a boat and it reminded me of one of the scenes in The Dark Knight when the Joker (played by Heath Ledger) tries to explode the hospital. In the same way, Dalton tries to explode the boat. I have been forgetting to ask him about it but to me, it felt like a homage (Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger starred together in the much-acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain).

I also noticed that he is very thoughtful about everything that he does, not only as an actor but as a person too. Those things matter a lot to me and I learned a lot from him on set and outside of the set.

Which ’80s/’90s’
Hollywood action film would you want to see a reboot of? Tell

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