Zoe Saldana mixes sexy and deadly with heart in Guardians Of The Galaxy
Playing Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy was empowering for Zoe Saldana, and she wants to show what's beneath the alien killer's skin
"I'm not a sci-fi sex symbol", declared Zoe Saldana.
"I don't know why I'm always in space, maybe being a space babe moves me," she added, before bursting into uncontrollable - and very girly - giggles.
She took a couple of deep breaths and composed herself.
It was a matter of coincidence, Saldana explained about her latest expedition into outer space.
From being Neytiri, the blue-skinned humanoid Na'vi in Avatar to communications officer Uhuru on board the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek movies, Saldana is again heading to the final frontier.
Opening here on July 31, you can see her as the sexy alien killing machine Gamora in Guardians Of The Galaxy.
The US actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican ancestry was in Singapore recently to promote her new film, where she joins Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as Peter Quill, Drax The Destroyer, Rocket and Groot respectively in the James Gunn-directed sci-fi action flick about a team of misfits who become unlikely heroes.
"As a woman, particularly a woman of colour, the roles (set on Earth) are a little too typical for me.
"You're either playing someone's girlfriend or wife or mother," Saldana explained to M when we met up at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.
"There's something fascinating about working in sci-fi movies, they make me feel limitless."
Playing Gamora - billed as the deadliest woman in the galaxy - was "empowering", said the 36-year-old.
"I don't want her to be another kick-ass babe. On the surface she's fabulous; she can kill and fight, but what are her weaknesses? I want to show you why she is the way she is.
"I want to show all the confusion inside her and her many issues."
Saldana elaborated on how she felt Gamora's background - of being orphaned, taken away and brought up in a world of violence and crime - was akin to that of "lost kids" of Sudan.
(The United Nations recently said over 9,000 children had been recruited to fight - by both sides - in the brutal South Sudanese civil war.)
"If there's anything to compare Gamora to, it'll have to be that. That's how I approached Gamora.
"I decided to focus on the heart and drama, because when you come to all the fight sequences, I know Gamora will be great - I have an amazing stunt woman to make her look super cool!"
As Saldana talked glowingly about her role, it became clear that this was a gig she was very excited to take on despite a very challenging shoot.
With Gamora in the bag - she even hinted at a possible sequel - Saldana revealed she was enjoying some time off from work and plans to maintain a better work-life balance before returning to work on Avatar sequels 2, 3 and 4.
BEING A MUM?
The actress is rumoured to be pregnant for the first time. While she never admitted to being a mother-to-be in our interview, she often alluded to wanting to change her life's perspective, re-organising her life and changing work schedules.
Married to Marco Perego, an Italian ex-football player-turned-artist, Saldana shared how she "loves a big family" due to her Latin American heritage.
All but giving the game away about her rumoured impending motherhood, Saldana said: "Organisation and restructuring (of my life) are a must. You have to be around for your kids and your husband.
"I'm going to find a way to take my kids with me (on set) even if I have to bring my mother, my husband, my grandmother, anybody's mother just to look after the children!" she said, laughing.
Saldana is also extremely vocal about championing for more strong female roles in Hollywood.
"With The Hunger Games, the landscape in Hollywood is certainly evolving. We, women, are becoming more vocal, we're embracing our strength and speaking up.
"We need to speak up louder to be heard, and if they're still not hearing us then you move to Plan B, which is create materials that you'd like to see."
That "Plan B" would be Saldana's pet project Nina, where she stars as the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone.
"I feel very passionate about being able to tell Nina's story. But nobody was stepping up to the plate, so I said I'll do it.
"I'm not sure if it's going to be a hit, but it's okay. At the end of the day, I remind myself every morning about doing things with an open heart and love."
Saldana admitted that her clout stemmed from the tremendous success of Avatar, which is still the world's biggest movie of all time with US$2.8 billion (S$3.5 billion) earnings at the box-office since its release in 2009.
"Avatar gave me the possibility to work in a film like Guardians.
"It's the biggest movie on Earth, which means a lot of people saw it, not just movie-goers but film-makers, producers, writers... and it gave them an impression of my work and a feel that they may want to work with me."
She added: "I can still benefit from (Avatar) after all these years. I will always be indebted to that movie and James Cameron."
The M Match-up
Gamora Vs Neytiri
Zoe Saldana is not only a "woman of colour", she's a veritable rainbow.
The actress is best known for playing the blue-skinned Na'vi Neytiri in Avatar. Now she's playing the green-skinned Gamora in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Question is, which colour suits her best?
This green glamour girl and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) were both raised to be kick-ass assassins by the eeeevil Thanos (Josh Brolin). In the beginning of the film she's working with the baddie Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace) to acquire an orb - must be a cool orb! Don't worry, she ends up joining the good guys.
Hailing from the planet Pandora, Neytiri is a bodacious blue beauty who is all about being wild and free. She loves to chill around her Hometree, ride around on her dragon-thingy, and hunt with her wicked bow. She falls in love with a human (Sam Worthington) even as she battles his fellow Earthlings.
ROUND ONE WINNER: IT'S A DRAW
They're both so cool, how to choose?
Green space babes are the galaxy's sexiest space babes, and they take full advantage of it here with a skin-tight outfit featuring ample cleavage. There's a kissing scene, a shirtless scene (from the back) and plenty of sexy fighting. They've done something weird with her face, though.
While blue women tend to play second fiddle to the green ladies, Neytiri is an exception. Tall and lithe with a cat face and long tail, this panther-Smurf is the hottest thing going on her jungle planet, and the fact that she runs around mostly naked doesn't hurt. Plus, she can do ca-razy things with that tail!
ROUND TWO WINNER: IT'S A DRAW
Neytiri is sexier overall, but Gamora is green.
Guardians Of The Galaxy is a hoot - so nice to see a light-hearted take on the superhero genre. There are just not that many movies out there about a green chick, a racoon, a bro and a tree guy saving the world. Plus, it's from Marvel - a name you can trust.
Avatar is, quite simply, the highest-grossing movie of all time. It brought in close to US$2.8 billion (S$3.5 billion) at the worldwide box office. Not bad! Though it has its detractors, its success speaks for itself.
ROUND THREE WINNER: IT'S A DRAW
It's like comparing apples and orxthangs (space oranges). Both are great in their own way.
THE WINNER: IT'S A DRAW!
Whether Zoe Saldana is blue or green, she's outta this world.
Who says it's tough being green? Check out these movie icons
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Avengers (2012)
Kermit the Frog
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Monsters, Inc (2001)
Squeeze Toy Aliens
Toy Story (1995)
PHOTOS: UIP, DISNEY, WALT DISNEY PICTURES, CAMTEC MARKETING SERVICES, LUCASFILM, DREAMWORKS
Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
WIN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY MOVIE PREMIUMS
We are giving away five sets of Guardians Of The Galaxy movie hampers, courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures and Hasbro.
Each set includes a sticker reel, a T-shirt and a USB flash drive. Each winner will also take home a Hasbro GGM 12" Star-Lord electronic figurine worth $39.90.
TO WIN, ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
Name the director of Guardians Of The Galaxy.
1. James Franco
2. James Bond
3. James Gunn
SMS your answer to 146077877 in the following format:
TNPMGUARDIANS <space> Answer <space> NRIC <space> Name
Each SMS costs $0.21 (with GST). Contest ends on Sunday, 11.59pm.