In her latest movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Zoë Saldana plays Gamora, a martial arts assassin who has superhuman strength. It’s the latest in a line of ass-kicking characters for Zoë, including Avatar’s Navi warrior Neytiri and Colombiana’s gun-toting killer Cataleya. In some ways, these roles are just a case of art imitating life for the fearless 36-year- old, who grew up in Queens, New York, and the Dominican Republic, in a family of “tough and independent” women. “I was taught to stand up for your principles and not let the fact that you’re a woman make it easy to get pushed around,” Zoë says. “I take pride in living with a strong sense of self-worth, and I can’t stand women who are afraid of confronting men. If you don’t make yourself heard, then you deserve to be treated with indifference.”
OKMagazine.com: What makes Guardians of the Galaxy an atypical superhero movie?
Zoe Saldana: We’re badass antiheroes. We have a lot of swagger, and even if we save the day, you’d better check your wallet afterward.
OKMagazine.com: You wore a lot of makeup for this role. Is that a challenging part of the process?
ZS: It was painful to shoot. Having to get up at 3:30 AM for four-hour makeup sessions, six days a week for four months, was an ordeal.
OKMagazine.com: And then you had to do crazy stunts! Do you like being tough onscreen?
ZS: Having studied dance for so many years, I enjoy getting a chance to show that I can do stunts and be very physical. That’s a big advantage of mine — I can dish it out and look convincing punching out bad guys or shooting a gun.
OKMagazine.com: Where do you get that confidence?
ZS: I was raised in a family where the women were expected to carry a lot of weight. So I feel very much in charge of my life…I feel free and uninhibited.
OKMagazine.com: Do you ever want to take it easy and just do a rom-com?
ZS: I could never play the girlfriend kind of role, where the woman is just an afterthought to the main male character. I have always held out to play dynamic, forceful women, and it’s worked out very well for me. I also think men respect you more when you have a mind of your own. I could never imagine being any other way than I am.
Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now! Have you seen the film yet? Do you think Zoe could star in a romantic comedy? Tweet us @OKMagazine.