Zoe Saldana is vibrant, strong actress full of live and love of her profession. She's appreciative the fact that she breathes life into a character that creates a bit of role model for young women, but she's nothing at all like her character Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—an a kick-ass assassin who's feared throughout the galaxy.
When Zoe Saldana walked into our interview room, you could see and feel her excitement surrounding the fact that she had 25 female interviewers. She even commented on it.
On the history between Gamora and Nebula unraveling in the movie
Zoe: I loved it. I loved it. I was very excited, there were three female characters in this movie, and they all were going to provide three different essences. Mantis just resembles such an innocent creature, and Nebula's so angry. Sh*t, she’s so angry. And Gamora is so maternal. You know, she’s turned over this new leaf. In the first movie, she was so selfish. It was about getting away, and running away from her father.
And now it's about keeping this family together and keeping them always on track. So she went, like, the opposite of who she was in the first movie.
On relating to her own family experiences when creating that maternal essence
Zoe: I never looked at any of them and thought, ‘Oh, these are like my kids. No.' I tried, you know, but I'm the middle child of three sisters, so I was never the Gamora. My sister Marielle is more the Gamora. She keeps us on track and everything. I was always the f*ck up. I was always the one, it's like, ‘Zoe, focus, focus!' I'm like, squirrel! ‘Cause middle kids are sort of, I don’t know, it's the title that they give you. You don’t take any responsibility, you don’t finish what you start, and you never obey your parents, you know? So, that was me. And, so channeling something in Gamora, I think I was just thinking about my sister.
The responsibility that she must’ve put upon herself to help my mom, like, raise Cicely and I, my younger sister and I.
On women empowerment and strong female roles
Zoe: I love it. I do, I do. But I would like to take a break from playing, kick-ass science fiction females. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, I'm kind of tired.
But growing up, when I was little, I only had two icons that I can reference, and I'd watch those movies until my tape would break. And it was Ellen Ripley from Aliens and it was Sarah Connor from Terminator. And I would watch these movies endlessly. And when Katherine Bigelow did that movie, Blue Steel, and Jamie Lee Curtis also did that movie, True Lies, I had her as a reference. But other than that, I was always watching action movies told through the eyes of males and stuff, but always feeling that gap, that void.
And I feel like I did take it upon myself to just be happy with the fact that I took a gamble on these movies for a first time, they ended up being super special, and they went into, into sequels. I didn’t think of this, trust me. It was not my idea. And I had my responsibility to fulfill them. But once I was there, I didn’t want to be better about it. I wanted to acknowledge that maybe, maybe it means something. Maybe it is important that I'm a part of those women that are filling in that gap, so that women can have, I don’t know, more options, more references to look into.
On what she wants young girls to take away from the character of Gamora
Zoe: I think that it's okay to still be vulnerable, and be strong. I think that for some reason, we take it upon ourselves, or where we're told that you have to be one thing or the other. And I think that vulnerability is strength, and being strong that means that you have to be vulnerable.
So, I hope young women take that. I don’t see Gamora as a strong character. I see her as someone that’s tired. Annoyed. And she’s very vulnerable.
On what she would like to see happen next with Gamora and Nebula
Zoe: I'm biased. I would want her to go to Nebula. ‘Cause I would go with my sisters anywhere. They call me now, it's like, ‘Okay, let's go.' I'm like, ‘Okay.' I just go, ask questions later. I would go to Nebula.
On the process of doing stunts and her stunt double
Zoe: Her name is Leanne, and she’s phenomenal. And she really did all the parts where Gamora looks absolutely unbelievably, like, just cool, that’s Leanne.
And all the parts where I'm posing and taking out my sword and stuff, that’s me. But I did do a lot of those jumps. And I would do a lot of the stunts that she would do, but the PG-13 version. Because, one, I can’t do them. And two, it's a liability to the film if I get killed or something. But I posted something on Instagram. There is a jump that I did. They made me jump from like, three stories or something, like a 30-foot jump?
And I was on wires, but I don’t know, I still can’t remember if somebody told me and I just brain farted, or somebody forgot to tell me that I was going to free fall. Like, I was not going to feel the tension on the wires. So when they said ‘Action!' and I jumped, 'cause obviously I don’t like to take my time, 'cause there’s so many men watching you, I jumped. I jumped, and thought I was dying. Forgot to speak English, I was like, ‘Help me!'
And then James Gunn was like, ‘Yeah, your face was kind of awful there. You have to do it again.' And I was just like, ‘Oh my god.' So I did it again. And then, you guys can watch it, It's on Instagram. But as soon as I land, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this again.' Like, the girly girl came out of me. It was awful, but super fun.
On the process of becoming Gamora and how long her make-up took, and passing the time
Zoe: Four hours. Three and a half to four hours, yeah. Yeah.
You guys. I talk in every language. I turn on music. I'm on my phone. I FaceTime with my kids, I FaceTime whoever's up. Like, oh, New York is up, oh, DR is up, what’s up, la, la, la. I'm talking to myself. Sometimes I would see them putting the TV on, like, super high, to see if I would just get the picture and just shut the f*ck up.
‘Cause I'd be there from 2:30 in the morning until the time I get to set, I talk to everybody.
On working with Karen Gillan on stunts
Zoe: I don’t have to give Karen any tips on performances. Karen's a bad ass. This girl is like the Hulk. In acting. Literally, like, Karen, she’s like Bruce, like Mark Ruffalo, like, ‘Oh, hi, hi, hi.' And then when she turns into the Hulk, she transforms into this character, you forget that Karen was in the building. ‘Cause she just turns into Nebula, and she’s menacing and everything. But in terms of stunts, yeah. I'm like, ‘Baby girl, you gotta stand, you can’t walk like that.'
I don’t think she’s ever been to a gym, still, to this day. And, I was just like, ‘With your permission, I love you, and I'm just, you know, I'm here to help.' And she was like, ‘Please help me.' I'm like, ‘Then don’t run like that.' I'm like, ‘Keep up, keep up. Heel, toe, heel, toe.' And then we laugh it out all the time. But I did also tell her, and James reiterated, that whenever she did not feel comfortable, she has nothing to prove to anybody, so she can always sit it out. And she did. She’s like, ‘I'm going to sit this one out.'
And she would always pick her battles. But she did a lot more stunts in this movie than I thought she would. And we were very impressed.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 flies into theatres May 5, 2017
I’ve been invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. As always, all opinions are my own.