Meryl Streep’s Comments About Mixed Martial Arts Motivated Conor McGregor to Prove Her Wrong in ‘Road House’

At the New York City premiere of Doug Liman’s remake of Road House on Tuesday, Conor McGregor shared with The Hollywood Reporter how Meryl Streep’s negative comments about mixed martial arts made him want to prove himself even more while starring in the film.

While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2017 Golden Globes, Streep said, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.” Her remark was met with roaring applause, but her comments hurt athletes in the UFC, including McGregor.

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“Fighting is the most beautiful form of art, and you know, it’s a great thing to come into this game, which is also art,” he said. “I was really taken aback because fighting is an art. It’s brutal also, so I can understand. It’s not for somebody to make a mistake; it’s real artistry for those who do what we do, so I came in [to filming Road House] with maybe a little chip on my shoulder and wanting to represent my sport and my art, give my best in this arena.”

In this iteration of Road House, McGregor plays the villainous Knox, who faces off against former UFC champion-turned-bouncer Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) in a battle for the titular bar. While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Gyllenhaal shared that the UFC star “clocked” him in the face “by mistake.”

McGregor confirmed he did in fact hit Gyllenhaal in the face, saying, “Aye, one or two little wallops. What’s a fight between friends, eh? At the lovely Road House.” The Irish athlete added, “But he gave ’em back, too! Jake’s a consummate professional, and he took it well and gave it right back. That’s what you gotta do. Gotta get up and fight right back.”

When asked if he thinks his co-star has what it takes to be a real-life UFC champion, McGregor had nothing but kind words: “For sure, he could, yes, for sure, I’d love to see him do it. I’d love to see him have a fight or two.”

Lukas Gage, who plays bartender Billy in the film, was also in attendance at the premiere and spoke about the behind-the-scenes process of filming the movie’s many fight scenes. “It was intense. I never have done stunt training or fight training before,” he said. “Taking on full stunt training under Steve Brown and Garrett Warren, they did Avatar and some of the best action films … it was an honor to learn from people who know what they’re doing.”

Gage ended up doing many of his own stunts, which he wasn’t expecting. “I think I just assumed, okay, like, sometimes they’ll have a stunt person there to take over and have your back. But no, Doug, the stunt guys, everyone really wanted us to really do it on our own, and I’m so glad I did. It pushed me. It got me out of my comfort zone. I’m like a really laid-back dude in real life so to push myself in that way was really cool.”

While Gage didn’t need a stunt double for fight sequences, another one of the film’s stars was ready to pull off a terrifying stunt but ended up not doing so. Daniela Melchior, who plays Dalton’s love interest Ellie, has a terrifying scene in a sinking yacht where she tries to break free after being kidnapped. “I had scuba diving lessons [for the scene],” said Melchior. However, the scene ended up requiring a stunt double because it was likely “too dangerous for production,” according to the actress.

Road House will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Thursday.

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