Paula Patton
Courtesy of Paramount

To play a kickass secret agent named Jane alongside Tom Cruise in the new movie Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Paula Patton had to get her body into kickass shape. “I had just given birth about five months before I started training, so it was really intense,” Patton told InStyle.com. “We would do capoeira, karate, boxing, circuit training, a lot of self defense for two-and-a-half hours a day—things that made me feel like I would be able to be a secret agent.” And her newfound skills are being put to good use. “My reaction time is better,” the actress said. “I’m not a violent person, but you start to learn these things and suddenly you’re like, ‘I dare somebody to come up to me on the street!’ I want them to try! Not really—only in the movies do you win!” Check out the results of Patton’s hard work in the gallery, and catch the movie in theaters tomorrow, December 21st.

— Lindzi Scharf