Thank you to Disney and Marvel Studios for hosting me during the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Event.
Some people just have this amazing presence. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but it’s one of those things you can’t help but notice when you fall more into the category of “perpetually awkward”. Zoe Saldana has that amazing presence. She walked into the room excited to see it filled with females. That energy carried throughout the entire interview.
How did she feel about all of the female power in Vol. 2?
I loved it. I loved it. I was very excited there were three female characters in this movie, and they all were going to provide three different essences. Mantis is like such an innocent creature, and Nebula’s so angry. She’s so angry. And Gamora is so maternal. You know, she’s turned over this new leaf. In the first movie she was so selfish. It was about getting away, and running away from her father. And now it’s about keeping this family together, and keeping them always on track. So she went the opposite of who she was in the first movie.
Did she pull in any of her own experience into portraying this new, maternal Gamora?
I tried, you know, but I’m the middle child of three sisters so I was never the Gamora. My sister Mariel is more the Gamora. She keeps us on track and everything. I was always the f–k up. I was always the one-it’s like, “Zoe, focus, focus,” I’m like, “Squirrel!” Because middle kids are sort of-I don’t know-it’s the title that they give you. You don’t take any responsibility, you don’t finish what you start, and you never obey your parents, you know? So, that was me. So channeling something in Gamora-I think I was just thinking about my sister. About the responsibility that she must’ve put upon herself to help my mom raise Cisely and I, my younger sister and I.
Does she want to take on more characters like Gamora in future films?
I love it. I do, I do. But, you know, I would like to take a break from playing kick ass science fiction females. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, I’m kind of tired. But I-growing up, when I was little-I only had two icons that I can reference, and I would watch those movies until my tape would break. It was Ellen Ripley from Aliens, and it was Sarah Connor from Terminator. And I would watch these movies endlessly. And then it was Jamie Lee Curtis, when Katherine Bigelow did that movie, Blue Steel, and James Cameron also did that movie, True Lies,I had her as a reference. But other than that, I was always watching action movies told through the eyes of males and stuff, but always feeling that gap, that void, you know? And I feel like I did take it upon myself to just be happy with the fact that I took a gamble on these movies for a first time. They ended up being super special and they went into sequels. I didn’t think of this, trust me. It was not my idea. And I just-I had my responsibility to fulfill them. But once I was there, I didn’t want to be bitter about it. I wanted to acknowledge that maybe, maybe it means something. Maybe it is important that I’m a part of those women that are filling in that gap, so that women can have, I don’t know, more options, more references to look into.
What’s the message she wants people to take away from her portrayal of Gamora?
I think that it’s okay to still be vulnerable, and be strong, you know? I think that for some reason, we take it upon ourselves-or where we’re told-that you have to be one thing or the other. And I think that vulnerability is strength, and being strong-that means that you have to be vulnerable. So, I hope young women take that. Because Gamora-I don’t see Gamora as a strong character. I see her as someone that’s tired. Annoyed. But she’s very vulnerable.
Where would she want Gamora to head in Vol. 3 if she could choose?
I’m biased. I would want her to go to Nebula, because I would go with my sisters anywhere. They call me, and…it’s like, okay, let’s go…I just go, ask questions later. I would go to Nebula.
What was the stunt process like, including using a stuntwoman and doing her own stunts?
Her name is Leanne, and she’s phenomenal. And she really did all the parts where Gamora looks absolutely, unbelievably, just cool. That’s Leanne. And all the parts where I’m posing and taking out my sword and stuff? That’s me. But I did do a lot of those jumps. And I would do a lot of the stunts that she would do, but like, the PG-13 version. Because one, I can’t do them. And two, it’s a liability to the film if I get killed or something. But I posted something on Instagram. There is a jump that I did. They made me jump from three stories or something. Is it a 30 foot jump? Yeah. And I was on wires, but-I don’t know-I still can’t remember if somebody told me, and I just brain farted, or somebody forgot to tell me that I was going to free fall. I was not going to feel the tension on the wires. So when they said action, and I jumped-Because obviously I don’t like to take my time, because there’s so many men watching you…I jumped. I jumped and thought I was dying. I forgot to speak English. And then James Gunn was like, “Yeah, your face was kind of awful there. You have to do it again.”
What was her makeup process like for Gamora and how did she kill the time?
Four hours. Three and a half to four hours, yeah. You guys. I talk to myself. I talk in every language. I turn on music. I’m on my phone. I FaceTime with my kids, I FaceTime whoever’s up. Like, oh, New York is up, oh, DR is up, what’s up, la, la, la. I’m talking to myself. Sometimes I would see them putting the TV on super high, to see if I would just get the picture and just shut the f–k up. Because I’d be [INAUDIBLE] from 2:30 in the morning until, you know, until the time I get to set, I talk to everybody. But I’m just one of those momalas. I’m just an old lady. I just talk, you know?
Does she have a favorite moment from the film?
There’s that scene with Nebula and I in the end, where I’m trying to the best of my abilities to offer her an apology for what she feels that I did to her, for what I really did to her. But I’m also trying to sort of bring clarity to her, so that she can understand that I was trying to also survive, you know. And, I wish that scene would’ve been a little more emotional for Gamora’s end. But I also, now that I see the movie for the second time, I really respect the fact that James Gunn has a vision and an idea of an arc for each and every one of these characters, and what they represent, as a family unit. And Gamora is this just unbreakable support wall that everybody sort of leans on to. So there’s a lot that she can reveal, but it’s always within measure. And I think he’s pacing her out. I mean, at least I hope he is. But it was very beautiful, because I felt that this is the first time that Nebula and Gamora were able to start the process of closure. At least Gamora would like to think it that way. She left the door open, so that Nebula can just come back whenever she wants to.
Karen Gillan gave Zoe a shoutout during her interview for being helpful and giving tips in their fight scenes. What was it like for Zoe, working with Karen?
I don’t have to give Karen any tips on performances. Karen’s a bad a–. This girl is like the Hulk in acting. Literally, Karen, she’s like Bruce, like Mark Ruffalo, “Oh, hi, hi, hi.” And then when she turns into the Hulk. She transforms into this character, you forget that Karen was in the building because she just turns into Nebula, and she’s menacing and everything.
But in terms of stunts, yeah, yeah. I do. I’m like, “Baby girl, you gotta stand, you can’t walk like that.” I don’t think she’s ever been to a gym, still, to this day. And, I was just like, “With your permission, I love you, and I’m just, you know, I’m here to help.” And she was like, “Please help me!” I’m like, “Then don’t run like that.” I’m like, “Keep up, keep up!” I’m like, “Heel, toe, heel, toe!” And then we laugh it out all the time. But I did also tell her, and James reiterated, that whenever she did not feel comfortable, she has nothing to prove to anybody, so she can always sit it out. And she did. She-what is it-she pled the fifth? She’s like, “I’m going to sit this one out.” And she would always pick her battles. But she did a lot more stunts in this movie than I thought she would. And we were very impressed.
Does she want to see a romance between Peter and Gamora in Vol. 3?
Yes and no. I’m not a sucker for romance in films. It needs to be really well done, and very meticulously paced out in order for me to feel like it wasn’t gratuitous for the audience, and it wasn’t just part of a recipe for disaster at the box office. I think that James Gunn is exceptionally talented in the way that he creates strong characters in the beginning, and then he really lets these characters tell him where they need to go, based on what he established before.
So, Gamora and Quill are, they’re best friends. The bond that they have is so spiritually dynamic, that, to top it off with a kiss, you might actually ruin it. So, I feel like it lives better, and it’s stronger, in the way that they communicate, and the way that they counsel each other, and the way that they think and protect each other. And then the way that they cover up for each other.
The fact that he has never exposed her to the rest of the Guardians that she dances with him is awesome. Because he’s protecting her dignity. And he also knows that she’ll kill him. But she doesn’t also reveal all these things about these hang-ups that he has about trying to find his dad and whatever, and being abducted from his planet. And really, what Yondu did to him is very traumatic. Not at the scale of Nebula and Gamora, but it was very traumatic within itself. So, they really have a relationship, that when everybody goes to sleep, they’re up, and they’re talking. And that kind of transpired in the way that James Gunn designed our relationship to unfold in this movie, and I would like it to sort of run its course. And if in Vol. 3, if I do go back, and we do end up having a kiss, let it be because we’re so desperate to see it, because it’s the one thing that just needs to happen between them. But up until now, I think that we got just what we needed from them. I feel, I hope.
Make sure you follow along with all of my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 event coverage right here!
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.