Exclusive: Ali Larter on her 'emotional' goodbye to Resident Evil in The Final Chapter

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May 17, 2017, 5:30 PM EDT

With Resident Evil: The Final Chapter hitting shelves this week, we chatted with co-star Ali Larter about the legacy of the franchise and what it was like bringing Claire Redfield to life.

Ali has starred in three of the six Resident Evil movies, and made a surprise return in The Final Chapter. She talked to us about the filming experience in Cape Town (it was not easy) and what it's like saying goodbye to a character she's been playing off-and-on for a decade.

Oh, and we also found out what she kept from the set. Believe it or not, it wasn't Claire's iconic red jacket.

Your character's fate was left up in the air after the fourth film. Then you weren't in the fifth film, Retribution. So, what was your reaction when you found out you'd be coming back for the swan song of the Resident Evil franchise?

Ali Larter: I was pretty excited. I mean, I've had such an incredible working experience with Paul [W.S. Anderson] and Milla [Jovovich]. So, to be able to play Claire Redfield and to travel around the world with them and drop into this world as this character, it's been an incredible experience.

You've spent 10 years and three movies with Claire at this point, and she's obviously changed a lot since Resident Evil: Extinction. So, how does it feel to finally say goodbye to this character, and this series, after all these years?

It was pretty emotional, especially the last day of filming. What's so special is the time you spend together. You don't have that time with Milla anymore. I met all these incredible actors over the years, and those relationships when you're thrown together.

There aren't many action movies led by a largely female cast, and — even with characters like Claire, who are strong, supporting female characters with heavy action roles — Resident Evil is a rare type of franchise. What is it about Resident Evil that has made this formula work so well?

I think the best thing is that Alice wasn't in the video game, and walks everyone through this world. Then, they brought characters in to keep it exciting for people who know the games. Paul's formula doesn't change too much, really. It's about kick-ass, fun, fast, post-apocalyptic movies.

Most video game adaptations haven't fared all that well, but Resident Evil has managed to buck that trend for 15 years. Why do you think the franchise has managed to be so successful?

I think it's that Paul doesn't stray too far. He brings characters from the games into it, and each movie is exciting and fast. People fall in love with it. You know what you're going to get.

What do you hope will be the legacy of the Resident Evil franchise?

I think the legacy is the fact that Paul and Milla came together and started a franchise that lasted six movies and made over a billion dollars. It's a fan favorite, and people keep coming back for more. Even when I brought in Claire Redfield, that'd typically be a man in that supporting type of role. And even in Alice's role. But, we had two women brought in to build each other up and not tear each other down.

All these films have featured some creative action scenes, but what was your favorite scene to shoot across the movies you were involved in during the franchise? Anything that stands out?

You know, maybe the first one, it had some of the hardest things that I loved doing … But this last one, shooting in Cape Town, it was the hardest to shoot. But, I think it came out the best. It's really raw and visceral, and you can feel that.

Considering how many characters have died along the way, Claire is one of the very few to actually survive to the end. Were you surprised that you made it to the final credits still alive and kicking?

You know, with this you never know what to expect. You read the script and you want to live! [laughs] But, I think people really loved Claire and weren't wanting to see her go down.

The film ends with Umbrella defeated, and Alice hits the road to slay some of the lingering monsters. But, where do you think Claire is now in the post-post apocalypse?

You know, I think constantly on the run. That's what i think of these worlds, and you can never let your guard down.

You stepped in to play a fan favorite character from the video game series in Claire. What's that like to take on a role that fans are familiar with, and have expectations for, from the game series?

I thought that was exciting, and I thought we kept it close. I loved that we kept the leather jacket in the look, and I thought it was a great platform to jump in from.

Of all the ones you were in, which Resident Evil movie is your favorite, and why?

The Final Chapter, definitely. I think shooting in Cape Town really brought this incredible weight to it. We were swimming in swamps and jumping into quarries. That was something that made the biggest difference. It really makes this one stand out.

With the series over, is there anything you kept from the set, or wanted to keep from the set, to remember your time as Claire?

I don't have any of the jackets, but I should probably get one [laughs]. I did keep my boots, though.