ZoŽ Saldana |
sexy - acting is a bonus
"W-h-i-n-d-i-n-g" down might be a problem but not much else is for ZoŽ
ZoŽ On Everything
Sexy killer, Cataleya is hard to
remove from your blood. ZoŽ finds that out almost the hard way.
Saldana sexed up the Starship Enterprise, then a planet called Pandora. Call
that her blue period. In her next role, she's red-hot as a stone-cold,
ass-kicking, lollipop-sucking assassin. Works for me. Then when hasnít it?
ZoŽ Saldana was out dancing the other
night when a fight broke out one table over. Her companions scattered,
me; she stayed put. "I knew exactly what I was going to do," she says. "Kick
this door, grab this, move that guy out of the way. Then I started
laughing: Oh, my God, I still have Cataleya in my system."
Cataleya Restrepo is the lethally
sexy hit woman in Saldana's latest gig, Colombiana. For the filmóin
which her character avenges her parents' murders with machine guns,
explosives, and, memorably, a toothbrushóshe underwent combat training with
the stuntman who turned Matt Damon into Jason Bourne. This was fresh off her
turn as a mercenary in The Losers and before that as a Pandoran in Avatar,
for which she mastered archery and Wushu. All of which has made her the ass-kickingest
female star since Angelina Jolie. Like Jolie, Saldana's physicalityó all fluid
angles and long linesóis part of what makes her so much fun to watch; before
the bad guys are finished staring, they're already dead.
Saldana's action roots run deep. The
actress, 33, grew up partly in
the Dominican Republic, where she learned to climb mango trees and gut
fresh-caught fish. She remembers herself as "a feminine tomboy. I had my
plastic swords, my ninja starsóbut I still wore lipstick." Hmmm, a lipstick
wearing ninja. I bet you were a sore site to see. ďYou know it. A hot mess.Ē
Saldana spent a decade wasted in
sidekick parts until 2009's Star Trek and her xenolinguistics expert,
Uhura. (Saldana herself speaks four languagesófive if you count Na'vi.) Next
year she'll trade the martial arts for a couple of marital dramas, though
don't expect any doting wives: "It gets pretty boring when all you are is the
support system for a male character," she says. "I want to be in the small
percentage of women who don't settle for conventional roles." Shouldn't be a
problem with that roundhouse.
So whatís it like going from roles in
a so called black movie (Drumline) to mainstream white movies? ďThe
budget. You get paid and well. The quality is better and you work with some of
the best. Not that you donít on a black film production itís just different.Ē
Iíve know you for a minute actually
right after Drumline came out; Candace (Candace Carey, so-star of
Drumline) actually introduced us one night in Miami. ďBoy,
has been a long time (2002). Has it been that long?Ē Yes it has. But Iíve see
you grow in your career. You went from OK roles like Drumline to
Guess Whoís Coming To Dinner, Avatar to Losers and now
Colombiana. You really have grown as an actress. I remember I would be
like, ďHey there you are again on TNT in Drumline.Ē That movie must be
paying you well. Itís on like every other week it seems. ďIím doing alright.Ē
I bet. "You have known me for a long time."
So knowing you been in the highest
grossing film [Avatar] of all time how does that make you fell? I still
canít believe that film did what it did in the box offices. When you look at
films like Titanic and Spidermans. It really is an honor that so
many people want to see your work. So what was it like after that movie came
out? ďThe year after Avatar was
just emotionally overwhelming. I was traveling all over the world, waking up
in different time zones. Your body gets exhausted, and by the end of the year
I just collapsed.Ē So the travel can really get to you? ďYes of course. I used
to laugh at you when you would tell me how fatigue you were from all your
traveling. I would be like these athletes complain about traveling and then
having to play a game, Ďwhat big babies.í But then I was in Paris training for
Colombiana, sitting in my hotel room, and I couldnít stop crying. I
couldnít stay awake. I must have slept for an entire month. It took me the
rest of the year, even as I was working and shooting Colombiana, to
pick myself up. Thank God my family was there.Ē Saldana now knows how to slow
down and relax. She says, ďI just stay at home and do absolutely nothing. When
I was younger, that would have made me feel like such a failure. Now that Iím
older, I know what it means to shut down. I donít shower if I donít want to. [Yuck,
you are nasty.]
boy. I donít answer e-mails, the phoneÖ nothing. Itís a healthy way of being
knew who ZoŽ Saldana was before she rose to A-List status, well before
actually. Iíd been following her career since early on, years before she
garnered worldwide fame playing Neytiri in Avatar.
Can anyone say The
Terminal? Observing the trajectory
of her work, I believed
ZoŽ Ė Z as sheís called by some Ė was headed for big things. She is an actress
who gives everything to her roles, be they in studio or independent films.
2009, Ms. Saldana gained accolades for her work in Avatar,
which went on to become the highest domestic and worldwide grossing movie of
Today, ZoŽ is being honored by a studio in the biggest way an actor can be.
She is opening a film. She is the star. She is the draw. It is her name up
there on the marquee above the movieís name.
You would be hard pressed to come up with many movies in which an actress from
a minority background was given the opportunity to carry a major studio film
on the strength of her name. Now, ZoŽ Saldana, a Latina, joins a small number
of groundbreakers. The sultry Dominican actress stars in the action film Colombiana,
just recently open last month.
addition to speaking about the film and her career, Ms. Saldana sets the
record straight telling me she never had a near emotional breakdown as
reported by various media outlets.
recaps the full story, telling me what really happened.
The sky is the limit for
Saldana, one of the hardest working people in Hollywood today. She is
talented, beautiful and down to earth.
So how is Motion picture star of
Colombiana doing these days? Three and a half years in the making,
how is everything going before we begin?
Very, very good. Good to be here with you. Are you recording this?
Well at least let a girl know. You ainít right Dre. I got to watch you.
After ordering a round a Pineapple Mojitos & salsa and chips we begin.
Letís being now that the subtleties are out of the way.
You know I used to spell that word wrong all the time.
Subtleties. I would spell subtle as s-u-d-d-l-e.
Iím not going to say anything [Laughing].
I know who you be spelling, if it is anything like you text me Ė all jacked up
then I can only image your spelling.
If this thing wasnít recording I would jack something else up.
Don't let that stop you.
I won't I was trying to be nice for once since you are always telling me I am
So what is this a new leaf... a new you. You have that look like you want to
splash me with that drink like old girl on
No I rather kick or punch your ass.
both bust out laughing then order another round of mojitos.]
Anyway letís begin. Your career just over the last decade, I believe in film,
has been a climb of independent movies and studio films and box office hits,
but getting the opportunity to open your own movie is still a really big deal,
especially for a woman. With this movie [Colombiana],
what does this big moment mean to you?
It means so much. Besides the fact itís a Luc Besson movie and Iím incarnating
one his femme fatale characters heís been known for delivering and delivering
really, really well. That to me was an honor to get to work with a director
like that because heís been amongst other directors in my bucket list of
people to work with. I love the fact that it was also a physically challenging
movie where you know usually itís male actors that get to be the protagonist
in these action movies and for it to have been a female and also a Latina
female, it made me feel so happy and humbled.
Yeah. Itís a one of a kind thing definitely for sure and a rarity in the world
of Hollywood, still, Iím all for equality of course. I always believed that
you give everything to every role youíve had in your career and you leave
nothing off the screen. Is that true and do you feel like this movie was a
chance to use all your acting abilities as this leading lady?
Yes. I am a very hard working person. I like to, I feel like itís the least
that I can do if I get a director that basically gives me the responsibility
to go, ĎHey. I trust that you can do this.í The least that I can do is prepare
myself very, very well so by the time the cameras are up, it comes up second
nature and I can do justice for a character and when fans walk away and
audience walk away thinking, ĎOk. She did a great part and that character was
so essential for the story.í It makes me feel so good that that reward and it
makes me know that everything that I do, once you dedicate and you give 100
percent of yourself as much as you humanly can, itís impossible for it to go
Youíve had some action and thriller roles in your career, but did you ever
think youíd play the bad girl action star, Itís almost like Tomb
Raider like with the big guns. Did you ever want to play the girl
Yes! Absolutely! I grew up watching from Sigourney Weaver playing Ellen Ripley
to Linda Hamilton being Sarah Connor. I just thought, oh my God! Theyíre just
so badass and thatís my character gravitates towards. Iím a fan of movies and
Iím a fan of all kinds of stories, but Iím really excited about action movies
and science fiction.
In other films, like the one that you have here, you have different love
interests and interracial relationships. Why do you think people still make a
big deal about this that you having a white male love interest in this movie
for example? Why are we still having this conversation about interracial
relationships whether it be on film or in real life?
I donít know and I really donít, try to the best of my abilities to understand
with questions like that mean and what they have behind them, you know. And it
just doesnít really exist in my realm. I wasnít raised to look at people and
box them. I was raised to just judge someone by their character and Iíve
guided myself and my life accordingly. And when I go for a part or I go for a
movie, thatís the last thing on my mind. All that I want is for the directorís
to cast the most amazing actors whether they be female, male or whatever. So
you know, working opposite Michael Vartan, like working opposite Zachary
Quinto or Sam Worthington for that matter, Ashton Kutcher, but that was a
different sort of kind of subject, but Iíve never seen as like, ĎOh my God,
Iím going to be working opposite like a white male.í Iíve never seen. To me,
heís an actor and heís so talented and weíre going to play these lovers and
God, I hope the storyís believable. I hope we really do the best job that we
can. Iíve never thought about that.
Simple point. My opinion, life, it is what it is, whatever makes you happy.
Whatever makes you happy. Through your career and life, has it been important
for you to have your Latina roots come through in your roles like this one?
I mean, itís very important for me in my life to have my Latina roots come out
through my life, you know. And that to me is the only thing that matters. When
Iím looking at a character, whatever this character is, whether sheís an alien
or sheís the operator on the enterprise or I donít know, a woman thatís
looking for revenge after the death of her parents, those are the things that
I see and then unless it was something very specific like about their racial
background, then I will obviously incorporate that into a character like
Cataleya. She was from Columbia and sheís sort of like, she moves to the
United States and so obviously she was Latina in her roots.
Ok. Well, I read you suffered exhaustion and I believe a reported near
emotional breakdown while training for this movie. Though there is notoriety
and there are a lot of perks that come with this business it can be quite
stressful and you can burn yourself out. It doesnít matter if youíre famous;
youíre still just a person. Reflect back upon that for me, what you learned
and do you think itís hard for people to understand what dedication it takes
to be truly successful in this media and the entertainment business if youíre
not in it and the stress that comes with the daily life. Iíve always thought
You know, I made a statement on one of the magazines that I was getting
interviewed for and I feel like everybody sort of ran with it. When it comes
to like a nervous breakdown, there was no such thing.
Ok. I know how that goes. People donít always report what is being said or
hear what one is saying.
It was just after coming out of such a beautiful and emotional rollercoaster
that was Avatar.
From the moment that we shot it to the moment that we delivered it to the
world, through award season, everything, I was on such a beautiful emotional
high that by the time that was over, once your body releases so many
endorphins youíre left a little dry so that was when I sort of sunk down to my
body and my being and my body just told me to, ĎOk, can I please have a break
now? Iím really tired.í And I jumped immediately into prepping for Cataleya
and I remember waking up every morning eager to go train because Iím such a
workaholic and so excited to be doing something new. But I just was realizing
that my body was just felt a little heavy like it just didnít want to move as
fast as I did. I wasnít getting things as fast and I remember I would cry just
watching a commercial or being really overwhelmed. I remember calling my mom
and telling her I donít know whatís going on. Sheís like, ĎBaby, youíre just a
little tired. So whenever you have a weekend off, youíre not training or
anything while youíre shooting Colombiana,
just sleep, stay in bed.í And she knows, Iím her daughter that thatís
impossible for me because Iím so extroverted. Iím so like always moving. So
that was what was going on. But it wasnít like I was having a nervous
breakdown, I needed like taken care of or anything. I just needed like a
little week off. Thatís it.
So no emotional breakdown? No nervous breakdown?
No. Dre you know me. Even if that was the case I would never let it be seen
and never let anyone know that was the case with me. I am all Teflon when it
comes to stuff like that. I am never going to be rattled in the public or at
Just stress? Would you call it stress? Just stress? I have to ask... you want
to set the story straight so I'm just asking all the questions people are
asking or wondering.
face look, with a slight evil eye.]
You want to playÖ Not even stress because I wasnít stressed about anything. I
think I was just a little tired. Once I got off all the planes and I stopped
wearing all the gowns and I was able to wash all the makeup out of my face and
you know, you talk so much. Youíre doing interviews all over the world 24/7 so
youíre expelling so much energy and youíre forgetting that you need to take
some back or you need to hold some back for you so you can have fuel for when
you wake up the next day and youíre off and I didnít do that. It was a new
experience for me so I did realize that I was a little tired, but I think it
happened to all of us because everybody from the cast to the director and the
producer of Avatar,
everybody took a chunk, like at least two months off and they all traveled the
world, you know with their families or they slept or they just went away and
or they hid and thatís what I shouldíve done, but you know, some of us
immediately went back to work and it didnít hit us until to you know, it was
time for us. I remember I was in Paris and I was with my niece and my mom and
Grandma and they were visiting me in Paris and I was just so happy that they
were there while I was training and shooting and we had a loss in our family,
a very, very close loss in our family and that I feel was the tool that kind
of unleashed and for a weekend I just stayed in bed and I cried because
obviously Iím missing the family member that we just lost, but then my body
also just needed to kind of expel some emotion. So I was just tired. So I
really, it just, it concerns me a lot when things are blown out of proportion.
Well, the point I can say to you is you very well know, this interview will be
run in its entirety with a full transcript and you know I am not for those
kind of things. So glad to help you clear it. Three more quick things. How do
you describe being part of now the number one domestic and worldwide grossing
movie of all time [Avatar]?
Blessed. I still look back. It was just such a magical moment because from the
moment we became part of it and we started training, we just knew that it was
going to be special because the script was so beautiful and the message was
just so strong about the environment, about us treating each other with
respect and not being so ambitious and greedy. So then by the time the movie
was released and it touched so many hearts all over the world of all different
ages. Even Jim [James
took the movie to the Amazon and showed it to a tribe there and they were very
moved by it as well. So for you to be in consciousness that you were part of
something that not only was it monumental for filmmaking, but also it was
extraordinarily heartfelt for humanity, it makes you feel so proud to be a
part of it, you know.
Absolutely 100 percent, what do you hope people take away from everything
youíve done with your life?
That I hope that theyíre to inspired to work really hard for what they believe
in and to fight for their dreams, to make them possible. I love to work and
Iím never afraid of the hardship that work entails because for me work is part
of life. The moment youíre born, you have to work every single day of your
life whether itís to work to stay connected to your family, work to educate
yourself, work to better yourself, work to feed your dog. You know, everything
in life is work and we for some reason feel, weíre more obsessed with the
rewards that work would have and we donít really think about all the lessons
that we learned while weíre in the journey and that to me is the most
important part. So I really hope people take, learn that from what I do and
the policy of life that I have that to me whatís most important is the journey
and itís not getting there.
ZoŽ Saldana, thank you so much for joining me today. Last thing, bonus round
time, a lot of people donít know, but three and a half years ago there was a
little spot in the world on the front of her MySpace page where me and a few
of her biggest fans and the people that work with her chatted for a few months
and it was like the best kept secret on earth, you know.
ďI loved that.Ē
So you still run your MySpace page.
I really haven't been on there in a minute. It's still up, I think but I am on
Facebook now. I have people posting stuff for me and I post here and there but
it's a fan page not a regular personal page.
Why not a profile page?
Well first how is someone already going to have a profile claiming they are
me. Second, not just one person but 8, 9, 10 pages. I so I just let them have
at it. It's funny they get photos of me I don't even remember taking or they
are getting them off my fan page. Then to boot they will have statements, 'if
you don't believe it's me then don't request me,' Bitch it ain't you, I am you
or me. You know what I am saying Dre. But you know so much of this life is
public and social media and networks are a beast.
I remember us watching a few HBO Entourage episodes with you via the phone and
me asking you if you were ever going to get to be on one [Entourage
It never happened. Why?
I donít know and I really wanted to be on that show just once. I guess since I
wasnít going to sleep with Vincent Chase it was a no go. That was just a joke.
Actually I never asked and I was always busy with different projects so it
just never happened. Boy I wished it had.
Me too I would have loved to see what or how you would have played yourself.
Why you already know me.
Yeah, I do but that doesnít mean you would have played it straight.
No you got jokes. I would have been meÖ
Saldanaís official website is at www.zoesaldana.com
official Twitter is at http://twitter.com/#!/zoesaldana
official Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/ZoeSaldana