When Zoe Saldana walked into the Champagne Room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, she looked like an action star, wearing a gray tank top, black skinny jeans, and a fitted black leather jacket. And that persona should come naturally to her by now, having just come off of such genre movies as Star Trek and, of course, Avatar.
Based on a series of graphic novels, her new movie The Losers spotlights the members of an elite Special Forces unit (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Columbus Short, Idris Elba and Oscar Jasenada), sent to the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. When they are double-crossed by their boss, Max, with deadly consequences, the team goes undercover and is approached by a mysterious operative named Aisha (Saldana) – about destroying Max.
What kind of training did you have to do to earn the title ‘bad ass chick?’
The stunt coordinator that worked on The Losers was the stunt coordinator on Avatar so I’ve known Garrett Warren for three or four years. He trained me so he’s the one who has beaten me up and knows exactly what my body can do at times when I don’t even know I can do it myself. So, by the time we got to Puerto Rico, we basically just changed a couple of things because I had to substitute the bow and the arrow for the guns and the knives.
Throughout the entire summer while we were shooting I was still training with Garrett because we really wanted to get that fight scene (between me and Jeffrey) to be amazing. Sylvain White (the director) wanted it to be violent, but he always said to us, ‘While they’re beating the crap out of each other they’re also getting to know each other’. So it’s really like a very violent conversation. Jeffrey and I really wanted to capture that.
How did it feel kicking Jeffrey’s ass?
Jeffrey was absolutely amazing in the fight scene. There were a couple of moments there where I’d look at him and go, ‘Oh my God. Did I really hit you hard on your head?’ Or he would look at me and be like ‘Did I slam you really hard?’ I would be like [she groans]. But it was fun. I liked it.
What was it like being the only female in this ensemble?
When you’re the only girl in the cast it’s almost like you have twice as much work to do because you don’t want to be singled out. You’re already the only girl so if you’re the one who says, ‘I can’t do this,’ (the guys would say) ‘She’s wimping out because she’s a girl.’ So I toughed it out, I really wanted to impress the guys. I like being around men. I figure I can hold my own.
This has to be an incredible time in your career, with Star Trek and Avatar.
You can only ask for one thing, just to be able to be in films, living off of your art enough to pay the bills. So when you get to do that, and also you’re recognized by amazing producers and directors for all the work that you put in, (it’s amazing).
Jeffrey’s been killing it since Grey’s Anatomy. He steps up the ante and he conquers it. He was great in Watchmen. So, to get to work with him, as an artist, to get to work with actors who challenge you every single day, through love and respect, (was wonderful). We did get along but we would go at it on set when we did not agree with a certain beat of a scene, but it was also the most healthy, constructive thing and you learned so much. We’re in constant schooling every film that we do.
What was tougher in this, the love scene or fighting with Jeffrey?
It helps when you get along with the actors and it helps that Jeffrey was such a gentleman and so respectful because, trust me, as a woman, try doing that with a freakin’ prick. Been there. It’s not a good day at work. You’re the only one that’s naked and you have to act like you’re not aware that you’re naked and not only that, you have to flip your hair and have a orgasm. When you work with a good director and a great actor that makes it seem like a regular Tuesday, then love scenes are like any other fight scene. They’re just awesome.
When the Avatar sequel is ready will you have that part down or are there different things you want to do with that performance?
It’s whatever the boss (Jim Cameron) says. He already knows how I like to approach (doing a film). I need at least six to seven months to get into Netiri again, with training and stuff. The good thing we know about Jim is it’s not so good sometimes if you have to wait ten years for it, but by the time he does come around, he gives you something that changes your life or at least touches it. I know that Avatar 2 is going to be as great as the first one.
Any word on Star Trek 2?
No. Trust me, I email JJ every other day just like the rest of us. JJ is an amazingly talented man, full of surprises and I heard through the grapevine it might be early next year that we’re all going to start getting onto the Enterprise, so I’m really excited about that.