One of the things Marvel does perfectly is show girl power. In their latest movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora is played by Zoe Saldana, and she brings major girl power to the screen. And that power isn’t just saved for her acting skills. She is pretty much a badass in real life too.
Gamora talk with Zoe Saldana
You are such a role model for girls.
That–and especially because of that (is why I did this). Because what it’s gonna mean? What it means to like my niece, what it means to young women who to be one of the few, I wish there were more women like Angelina Jolie, Jessica Biel, myself, Zoe Bell that are kind and just you know keep stepping up. I just feel like it’s important because you’re giving women the information that–that this is something that they can entertain doing. It’s not like, “Oh it’s out of the books, like I can’t even think about doing that?” It’s almost like when little girls say, “Oh, I’m a Princess. I’m a Princess.” Then you say, “Did you know that you can also be the King?” They would never think of being the King. It’s like you can be the King. You don’t have to be someone’s Princess. So it’s like it’s that thing that to me that’s the only part that when I made these decisions to play this role it’s selfless. ‘Cause doing, doing these roles, it’s a very selfless thing. I’m an Artist and I like to. I can only do things for me. But to know that it’s gonna have such a beautiful impact on young women it’s, it’s the selfless part of me. (Laughing)
I can’t wait for my daughter to see it.
I hope she likes it. (Laughing)
The first time you saw yourself in full makeup what was that like for you?
(Laughing) And they make me wear these contacts–like at first we tested with these contact lenses that just made me look like a lizard. I’m like I do look like a lizard? (Laughing) Even though the idea of wearing contacts was fine. And then I just heard all these stories and then wait a minute, 5 months. I’m working 6 day weeks. I’m in pretty much a lot of the shots. So let me just encourage them to not do the contacts in that set. And then they decided that it was better to not to do contacts because with the eyes you’re able to sort of then connect more with your own eyes. For some reason contact lenses it’s just not as penetrable as your own eyes. It was interesting. And sometimes I couldn’t put my arms down ‘cause if I started to get warm and sweat then the makeup would melt and every take they would come and tweak.
How long is the makeup process?
(Quick to say) 4½ to 5 hours. But then I would come to set and I would look good. You know Dave and I would look good. Karen (Gillian – plays Nebula) wanted to shave her head. You know like I can’t complain. I can only do that like with my makeup artist there in my trailer or like to my husband when I really get home going, Conyo! It was green everywhere. Like on the pillow and the tub. My dog was green. (Laughing) It was crazy.
What kind of training did you do for your role?
I pull out of everything that I see in life. So when I was sort of pondering whether I was gonna do Gamora, like should I? It was mainly my decision came because of James Gunn. There’s just something about him that I just–I don’t know. You talk to him and you just go, “He’s, he’s special. Like he knows what he’s doing.” There’s a confidence in his word that you know he’s gonna keep his word as well. He’s going to deliver and it felt really, really good. And that said I was like, “Okay how am I gonna make this character different from all the other action characters that I’ve done before?” And my husband’s an artist and we were meeting with a colleague of his who was sharing with us her latest work. It’s not yet ready to share to the world, but it was like this thing that she shot on 65 frames per second of this Spanish Bull Fighter fighting in front of like this Picasso painting. And she shoots him one shot all slow motion. And the way this man is dancing and it’s this after seduction for the bull in order to make the bull just basically run to his death. I thought that’s Gamora and she’s a Bull Fighter. She’s not gonna be like a martial artist. You know she’s not gonna’ land like all the characters and all the action figures. Like all the Marvel comics. It’s not gonna’ be that. She’s gonna fend. She’s gonna be a very graceful sword fighter.
So I just kinda added those little twists and then I thought well she’s an orphan. She was taken from her planet. So kind of reminding me of The Lost Boys of Sudan. It’s children that are taken and forced into a life of crime and violence and deep, deep they’re good people. They were meant for greatness and their path was just completely erased before it’s even begun. And I thought well that’s Gamora. She’s just trying to give herself a last chance of life to get out. So even though on the surface it is a Marvel movie, and it’s comedy and it’s all these jokes. I can’t come from that place. It’s unnatural to me. I have to come from a very real place and she was a real person. Whatever happens to her, whatever she’s been through is real. Therefore, that’s something that I have to think about. And once I toss all these ideas to James he’s like, “Yup, yup, yup.” (Laughing) Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like that, I like that. So we were in.
I like the Marvel character now. Going into this role did you know about the gardens? And if not, were you a fan of Marvel or comics in general? And did you have any favorites growing up?
No. My nephew was my teacher with Gamora. He was very like, “Do you even know who you’re playing?’ (Laughing) I’m like, “Yeah she’s green like you know. She’s thinner, she’s thin as his step daughter.” And he told me she was taken from planet so and she was forced into a life of crime. And I’m like, “Yeah she’s bad ass.” He goes, “She’s not a badass, she’s an assassin.” (Laughing) But she has a great sense of justice. And I just thought, “Oh wow! Like she’s so interesting because she’s so conflicted. She’s actually a good person, but she was raised to be a bully.” So that itself is my struggle.
So how much of the stunts were you vs. a double?
Oh, 50/50. Baby I’m not gonna jump the way Gamora jumps. I’m like, “Well you’re gonna’ jump me from here to here.” And I’m like on the 3rd story. And I’m gonna’ jump from– and there’s nothing– nothing but metal. So she’s on a wire. I’m like, “No, no, no. Let Chloe do it.” And it was great. Her name is Chloe, my name is Zoe. She was fabulous. You can actually see her on You Tube. She does a lot of work with staff and she’s an amazing martial artist and her kicks are amazing. So she wears contacts and stuff. So she was brilliant. I knew that Gamora was in good hands.
How do you choose what projects you get involved in?
The script, the filmmaker, and my character. Like my character needs to feel relevant. If I just feel like she’s just there, like I can be and she doesn’t participate in the problem solving of plots and things like that then it’s just like you really don’t want me on your team because I’m not gonna be happy. I’ve been in those situations where as an individual, as an artist, as a woman, you don’t feel relevant and it doesn’t feel good. It feels really sh*tty. So I spoke to James and I read the script and liked the idea of the concept of doing a Marvel movie andworking with him. But I was not that excited about the script from Gamora’s standpoint. I’m like, you want me in every scene, but I don’t speak in any of them. So what am I gonna’ do? So I’m just gonna’ go there for 6 months, go through 5 hours of make up every day, 6 days a week, to just be like a, a fly on the wall in every scene? And just look at all the guys while they’re cracking jokes and just go? (Laughing) And before any lunch break you’re gonna do my close up? I’m like, “No baby that’s not gonna’ happen.” And I’m like, “We need to work on this.” And this woman you want her in every scene, if she knows what this orb is and she’s the one that knows who the collector is and she’s the one that ties all these people together then you need to give her a couple of lines every now and then.
And he was like, “Zoe we’re on the same page, like that’s what we’re doing.” I didn’t even wanna get on the plane ‘cause I’m like it’s been done before. I’ve been in that situation where you get on the plane going it’s gonna’ be done by the time you land, it’s gonna’ be all perfect. And you get there and you’re completely on the other side of the world and the script hasn’t changed a single bit. And now you’re stuck, you signed the contract and you have to work and I promised myself I was never gonna do that to myself. But James is different. He kept his word, he was very outspoken and Marvel really had such a respect for him. It didn’t feel to me like one of those big ass studios that just hire you know a great Director, but give him no power or relevance whatsoever. James really, really was very outspoken. Was very– was a huge um uh was a huge leader in, in this entire project and Marvel was just very supportive of that. I wanted to have that experience of having a big studio and have faith in studios again. They can actually support their artist and not just be a money making machine you know. And Marvel and Disney they were great with this movie.
Thank you all. It’s very important that they keep paying attention to this demographic!
See for yourself a little taste of Gamora!
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st!
*I was invited by Disney and Marvel to be part of the Guardians of the Galaxy Event. All opinions as always are my own.