Zoe walked into the hallway only to face 25 excited bloggers. Without even a second thought, she was ready and willing to jump right in and take a photo with us. Our little photo shoot was a great way to break the ice as she started telling us about her sister who just had a baby. How exciting!
Zoe Saldana has become such a strong role model for girls.
We wanted to know how she felt about her new role. Zoe was flattered and knew that there was a deeper meaning to being a strong role model… for her niece and other young women. She referenced other actresses, “Angelina Jolie, Jessica Biel, and Zoe Bell” who all had to step up to the plate and take on the strong female role. She also mentioned, the German filmmaker that did Punisher is “a bad ass.” Zoe said, “I just feel like it’s important because you’re giving women the information that this is something that they can entertain doing.”
One thing Zoe said to us that really stood out was “when you tell little girls, ‘… I’m a Princess. I’m a Princess. Did you know that you can also be the King?’ [All of the bloggers agreed with her statement] And she’s like 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.”
Zoe knows that when she chooses a role, “it’s gonna’ have such a beautiful impact on young women. It’s the selfless part of me.”
Gamora’s Full Makeup
Before Zoe turned green, they tested out contact lenses to give her an alien look. According to Zoe, they made her “look like a lizard.” She said, “The idea of wearing contacts was fine. And then I just heard all these stories of, you know wait a minute, 5 months. I’m working 6 day weeks. I’m in pretty much a lot of the shots… 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.”
Zoe’s make up took 4 1/2 to 5 hours to apply. She was green all over and looked perfect on set. They would apply her makeup in her trailer.
Fun Fact: When Zoe would get home everything turned green… her pillow, the tub, even her dog was green!
Preparing & training for the role of Gamora
Zoe decided to become Gamora because of James Gunn. She said, “There’s just something about him that I just– I don’t know. You talk to him and you just go, ‘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.” Because Zoe has been in action movies before, she was concerned about how she was going to make Gamora different than the other action characters she has played in past. Her husband’s an artist and they were meeting with a colleague of his who was sharing her latest work. The artist wasn’t quite ready to share with the rest of the world, but shared with Zoe and her husband. Zoe stated, “It was this thing that she shot on 65 frames per second of this Spanish Bull Fighter fighting in front of 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.” She added those little components to her character along with the background of Gamora’s home-life (orphan, taken away from her planet…which reminded her of the Lost Boys of Sudan) and breathed life into her character.
Zoe never collected comics, but she did watch He-Man, She-Ra and The Thunder Cats on TV! Her nephew was her teacher with Gamora. She said,” He was very like, ‘Do you even know who you’re playing?’… he told me she was taken from planet so she was forced into a life of crime. And I’m like, ‘Yeah she’s bad ass.’ He goes, ‘She’s not a bad ass, she’s an assassin.’ [LAUGHS] But she has, she has a great sense of justice. ‘Cause he has a little list. And I just thought, “Oh wow! Like that’s– 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.”
Zoe even brought her nephew and niece on the set. Her nephew wanted to meet “Quill.” Zoe showed him a picture of Chris Pratt and he didn’t know who he was and questioned, “That’s gonna’ be Quill?” Now mind you Zoe showed her nephew older pictures of Chris from Parks and Recreation. She continued by saying, “But he hasn’t seen this amazing transformation, this individual, that to me was the most inspiring thing of this whole process was looking at Chris’ commitment to himself. To not do what he did for cosmetic reasons, but for health reasons because he’s also a father and just prove to himself that he can do it. That he can actually be the superhero.” When her nephew saw Chris in person Zoe told use that he just introduced himself ~ “So I’m Jose, what’s your name?” and Chris responds, “Hi Jose, I’m Chris.” “So who are you playing? Are you playing Star Lord?” And Chris goes, “Yeah buddy I think I am you know. I– Is that okay?” He goes, and turns around and goes, “Yes!” [LAUGHS] And then Chris goes, “Oh my God I got the yes from your nephew.” I’m like, “That’s a great, that’s a great thing.” So anyway he was sort of like my little Guru.”
Without any spoilers, I will have to tread Zoe’s favorite scene in a slightly cryptic way. Her favorite scene is towards the end of the movie revolving around Groot. She said, “I couldn’t stop crying that day. And it was awful because like my makeup kept smearing, but Eric James was sort of getting– James was really emotional ‘cause he– they kept playing the theme song they were gonna’ play in that scene as well. The Composer was sort of finishing it up and he wanted us to kind of be in the moment and he’s describing the moment to us. We see the animatic and, and then we just see his face. We were only working with, with you know a substitute Actor, Chris Young, that was there to help us. And he would wear a hat with Groot’s face on top to give us sort of a reference of height and everything. And just seeing Groot’s face, it was just the most beautiful thing. I just thought my God I just wanna’ have you as a friend. Like I wanna’ be able to call Groot every day. Like, “Groot like what are you doing? You wanna’ go hang out?” [LAUGHS] I know…I just kept crying. So to me that’s, that’s one of my favorite scenes.”
When choosing projects to work on, Zoe looks at the script, the filmmaker, and the character. She said, “My character needs to feel relevant.” After reading the script, Zoe liked the idea of doing a Marvel movie and working with James Gunn, but she was not that excited about the script from Gamora’s standpoint. She noticed her character was in every scene, but didn’t speak in any of them. She thought, “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 fly on the wall in every scene? And just look at all the guys while they’re cracking jokes…” Zoe took a stand and with James they gave Gamora more lines in the script. She had trust in James… she said, “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 a huge a huge leader in this entire project and Marvel was just very supportive of that. So 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 machine– a money making machine you know. And Marvel and Disney they were great with this movie.”
Zoe left the interview saying, “Thank you guys. [APPLAUSE]. You guys are awesome. This is so good.”
I had a wonderful time listening to Zoe. She is amazing and I applaud her performance in this movie!
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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st!
Disclosure: Disney invited me on this press trip and paid for all of my expenses (except travel). All opinions are always 100% my own and honest.