The lovely Zoe Saldana is on everyone's radar now, but when Cinematical got to sit down with her in San Juan for The Losers, people were only just starting to notice she had really kicked some butt in Star Trek. I was quite excited to talk to her, since I had missed seeing her alongside Sigourney Weaver at SDCC's Women of Sci-Fi panel. She comes off as so fearless onscreen that I was really curious to see what she would be like off. Would she be really low key? Shy, even? Would she be sexily self-conscious?
Happily, I can say no to all three. Saldana is really cool in person. She has a great sense of humor, she's super friendly, and she's just as fearless as she is onscreen. She could care less about being sexy. There aren't many actresses who can appeal to men and women in equal measure. Some of them immediately attract a lot of snark and girl hate from women. Ladies, don't put Saldana in those girl hate ranks! She's doing her best to kick ass and take names, and she's so casual about her lethal ability to do it that you have to root for her. I also wanted to hang out with her forever, and have her around in case I was ever in danger so she could rescue me. You should wish the same.
Now, let's listen to Saldana talk about The Losers, shall we?
Your character is the big mystery in this. Tell us about Aisha.
Zoe Saldana: Obviously, we all know that Clay's team, their objective is to find a way to get back home. And Aisha's objective is later revealed. And it's just as personal, and it's just as profound, but it's compelled her to sort of play some shady cards with the boys, especially with Clay.
Is her backstory similar to the graphic novel?
Saldana: It is. It's very similar. In terms of like, the piercings and how savage she is when she's fighting.
How did they glue those things on? Spirit gum?
Saldana: Oh my God, they don't come off. Trust me. We had the motel fighting scene and it's like I'm now healing. I mean, my arm was about to fall off. And my knee. But those piercings were like intact.
We talked to Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] earlier and he said he'd injured himself with all the action scenes. Do you have a lot of action too?
Saldana: I do. I mean, she's, um, there's a scene where they fight in a motel room and it's sort of like the Losers' version of When Harry Met Sally. It's really romantic. Yeah. And that room, by the end of that meeting, that room is just a disaster. Absolute disaster. No lamp is standing. Trust me.
She has an interesting relationship with Clay. Can you talk about that relationship?
Saldana: Well, it's very lustful. I think because they have very similar professions they can only be stimulated by somebody that sort of challenges them. I don't mean mentally, but physically. And Aisha's definitely down his alley. And she soon realizes that he's hot, too. I mean, have you guys seen Jeffrey Dean's little eyes? He's got these little luscious eyes. You're like, of course Aisha's going to dig that.
We heard Jeffrey describe this as sort of like Die Hard, in the sense that there's a lot of action but a lot of comedy as well.
Saldana: A lot.
So compared to something like Star Trek, where there's more comedy than people thought would be in it, is this even funnier?
Saldana: I almost feel like they're pretty similar. It's a lot of witty jokes and stuff. And also, you have Chris Evans, who's known to be a very, very funny guy. And so is Columbus [Short]. And who know that I also had a little funny spark there? It's really funny, because you definitely get to see that they've been working together for a long time. And they're sort of brothers and they have each other's backs, but they also dish the shit out of each other. Oh my God. If you're ever shot, like be sure that Chris doesn't come there and pour some salt on it. It's really awesome. But I feel like you have to have that, because if it's just like an action movie where you just have -- you know, it's already dark. They're being framed. They can't go back home. You have a very bad villain, which is Max. I mean, this man is really evil. And if we only played the drama of the intensity of what is being experienced, then you might as well just slice your wrist. You have to keep it really light in order for you to keep going with the story. And to really care about the characters.
Jeffrey was talking about a stunt where everyone jumps off, like 120 feet in the air. Are you doing that?
Saldana: I'm really looking forward to that. I hope so. I mean, I can't even -- Yeah, I think I can show you. Just so you guys know. Don't pity me though, because this actually turns me on. A lot. But I mean, my mom isn't that keen on it. [Rolls up pants and shows off huge bruise on the side of her knee to the horror of us all.] Be sure, this ain't Jane Austen. Okay? But it's awesome. I was an athlete my whole life, so to be able to be challenged, not only emotionally, trying to tackle a character, but also to be challenged physically. I'm in my phase of action film exploitation. I mean, after Avatar, for 2 years of being harnessed and jumping off of wires and everything, I wanted to keep exploring that. And Star Trek, I had so much fun, but the boys got all the action. J.J. promised me that in the sequel she will have at least one little fight scene. I'm like, "Just let me kick a guy in the groin or something."
Have you been telling him what you've been doing here?
Saldana: F*** yeah. Oh my God. Yes. If you guys could really see, because we all have each other on a massive e-mail group, like all the actors and one of the producers and J.J. And just to read the back and forth of Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and Chris Pine, John Cho, I mean, I've been having tons of fun. The last two years have been fun because I've been working with amazing actors, amazing directors. Whether they've been prolific directors or fairly new directors but are highly promising like Sylvain [White] and J.J. also. I've just been having so much fun.
You've had great characters too. You've gotten to play these tough, strong women.
Saldana: Yeah, and I'm a sucker for vulnerable parts, but I feel like there's something --lLike I said, I'm in my phase. And I really enjoy it. You have certain actors that once they catch that bug, they're f***ed. "If I'm not jumping off a building then I'm not doing it." I'm so there.
This is outside, not on sound stages or sets. This is kind of gritty and dirty and you're actually getting out there.
Saldana: Sometimes it's not that cool when you wake up at 5:15 in the morning and you're working in an area like in a warehouse with no ceiling, so we have to stop for rain. It's like, "Wait a minute. This is supposed to be an interior shot of a warehouse and we can't shoot because it's raining." So, but it's like that kind of filmmaking that even though we'll complain and we'll be, you know, grumpy for two nanoseconds about it, it's really awesome. It helps a lot, in terms of your character and getting in the mood and having an environment that matches what you're trying to say.
We're happy to see the kickass female roles. We saw that panel you did at Comic-Con?
Saldana: Oh my gosh. Oh, for the women? I mean, I don't even remember what I said. Just the fact that I was sitting next to Sigourney. I was like, "Uhhhhh." I was trying so hard to contain myself, I could totally sit on her lap. Because I love Ellen Ripley. She's Ellen Ripley, you know? Fantastic.
How is it different working with live actors and working with CG?
Saldana: It's all motion capture. Everything is authentic. Every film that I've worked on stands on its own grounds. There's no such thing as me being able to compare Avatar to The Losers, or to Star Trek even, because I would be cheating the filmmakers and the cast. Everything was special. Avatar definitely had a purpose, and will always have a very special place in my heart, because it was the one film that I got to shoot for two years. Usually we only shoot for three months. We spend an amazing time with the cast and the director and the crew, and then the film lives forever for you guys, but that experience of shooting will only live for three months. And sometimes we feel cheated. For me to have gone and ended up working with an amazing director like James Cameron and working worth Sam Worthington who, by far, I just -- he's one of the most selfless actors I've ever met. And we're literally like brother and sister now. But not [incestuous]. Don't let it affect when you go see Avatar, because they are in love. But it was amazing. And to come here and to do The Losers and to work with like badass actors. I mean, Jeffrey's hot. I don't know about you guys. But there's something. And he f***ing reads even hotter on screen. We talk about each other's level of hotness. Like, let's be objective. You know? Sometimes I'll give myself a nine. I'll give myself a seven. He'll agree with me. He'll disagree. We do it back and forth. But it's just, I really have fun. I really have fun with the roles that I'm picking. And I feel like the women are very important.
You did take a break. You did Death at a Funeral.
Saldana: I did.
No action. Did you feel like you needed that before coming onto something like this?
You know, I was in my "Must kill! Must shoot! Must fight!" And my team, my agents and managers, they were like really pushing me, "You have to meet Neil LaBute. You just have to." And I'm really good friends with Clint Culpepper, who's a producer, and the script, I really loved it. I saw the movie, I loved it. I didn't even know that I needed that. I needed that break. But I really did. It was good to actually wear a dress and have my hair all loose. And no tattoos and stuff. And it was a wonderful cast. It was great. I had tons of fun.
How long does those tattoos and piercings take to put on? Do you leave them on?
Saldana: F***, yeah. Do you guys know how cool it is when I go out here? People really think that they're really. I won't go to church with them though ... And they will not come off. You should see me sometimes, like, in the shower. They will not come off, you guys.
What has happened to your arm?
Saldana: Oh, there's a scene before. The night before we're supposed to end up here on the docks, Jeffrey's character and I, and the rest of the team, we have a little bit of a disagreement in Jeffrey's room. In a motel.
Is this the motel scene you were talking about before, or a different one?
Saldana: No, no. There's another one. There are two trashed motel rooms. And we're both in them. So she gets a little -- She's not wearing much, so of course she's going to get grazed sometimes. That's the baggage of doing these kind of films. Like, "Oh, right. Not only do I have to be tough, I also have to be sexy." [makes gagging motion] Like, "All right."
Jeffrey said that this scene we saw today is a 45-minute action scene at the end of the film. Where is that in context of the scene?
Saldana: It's sort of like in the middle of the shootout. Because in the beginning of the shootout, I rescue them. It's really cool. So at this point, we're all together and we're just trying to get the hell out of this place. But also kill the bad guy. Because he needs to be reprimanded for all the things he's done to us.
More on The Losers set visit:
Set Visit: Cinematical Meets The Losers
Set Visit: Chris Evans Hacks Into The Losers