Star Trek Beyond(2016)
- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure, Science Fiction
From boldly going to where no man has gone before as Lt Nyota Uhura in ‘Star Trek’, and playing the blue long-tailed Neytiri in ‘Avatar’, Zoe Saldana has been steadily building up her movie career playing intergalactic heroines and femme fatales, as well as assassins in ‘Colombiana’ and ‘The Losers’.
Now, the actress is seen in another space adventure, as the green-skinned space assassin Gamora in ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’, which opens in Singapore cinemas 31 July.
Zoe Saldana at red carpet event of 'Guardians of The Galaxy' in Singapore
A CAREER IN SCI-FI
In an interview with inSing, the 36-year-old actress said: “Actors tend to want to do projects that they would want to see when they’re not doing them.
“When I’m not making films, I’m a movie fan – I go to the movies. Ever since I was a little girl, action movies, suspense and supernatural thrillers as well as science fiction were the kind of movies that captivated my brain and my heart, and it just lingers in me. So it’s no coincidence that I gravitate towards that.”
Born Zoe Yadira Zaldaa Nazario, she made her acting debut as an aspiring ballerina in 2000’s ‘Center Stage’ about a group of dance students, before she was given a role in ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ in 2003.
It was not until 2009 that her roles in JJ Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ reboot and James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ that she was thrown into the spotlight.
Saldana said: “I have a great deal of respect for filmmakers that want to tell their stories in space. They have limitless imagination and they’re all kind of geeky. I just love that.”
The “geeky” director tasked to helm ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, Marvel’s latest comic-book movie, is none other than James Gunn, who directed ‘Slither’ and ‘Super’.
Saldana called him a “visionary”, and relished every moment of working with him. The actress was Gunn’s first and only choice for the role.
On stepping into what would be another movie franchise, she said: “You come in on the first day imagining that it’s going to be difficult and that you’re going to be constricted as an artiste. But it ends up being completely opposite of what I imagined.
Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek'
“The studio gave James a lot of freedom so he was able to do a movie that he wanted. We also get to collaborate a great deal with James, especially in developing and creating my character.”
For example, they worked with the costume department to finalise the look of Gamora, which Saldana said had to appeal to the movie’s target audience: comic-book fans and teenagers.
The result is a stealth assassin with a heart of gold that ends up joining the ragtag team of misfits-turned-heroes led by Chris Pratt’s Star Lord, to save the galaxy from impending doom.
“At least, now I have a movie where I get to pretend to be a badass in space,” she joked.
With a budget of US$170 million (S$210 million), Disney is betting big on a movie that features a new set of lesser-known Marvel Comics characters.
Marvel movies have been making waves this year, including ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.
But ‘Guardians’ is based on a comic-book series that is not as well-known, and most moviegoers would be unfamiliar with characters such as Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).
Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Saldana) and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) in a scene
Saldana is convinced that this unfamiliarity would endear the characters to moviegoers. Unlike Captain America, X-Men or Spider-Man, the Guardians are not your typical heroes.
“What makes it stand out from the Marvel family is that the characters are not heroes. They are not even regular people; they’re thieves, criminals, refugees and assassins. They’re also victims of their past and carry a great deal of pain, but at the end of the day, they have great heart,” she said.
“Another thing that I like about them is that they don’t know what they’re doing. I want to be in a movie where there are these clueless anti-heroes who irritate me at first and then I find myself warming up to them, and at the end, rooting for them and wanting them to save the day.
“That’s the journey that the movie takes you on.”
Zaki Jufri (@mzplusj) is inSing.com's arts, entertainment and film editor