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Interview: Zoe Saldana on Guardians of the Galaxy

1 of 1 Saldana with co-star Chris Pratt
Saldana with co-star Chris Pratt

Guardians of the Galaxy is in cinemas now - and having its way at box offices worldwide. Here, star Zoe Saldana talks about playing the green assassin Gamora in the Marvel hit, the mayhem and the makeup.

Were you a fan of the Marvel franchise prior to signing on to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy?  Were you familiar with the comics?
Zoe Saldana: No, I was not familiar with them. I didn't grow up with an affinity for reading comic books. I grew up in an all-girls environment. That said though, I've always had an affinity for unimaginable stories; simple stories that are told in unimaginable places. That obviously enters the category of science fiction and that's where Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy comes in.

What was it about your character Gamora that you connected with in terms of fleshing her out?
I don't have anything similar to Gamora, obviously, but I was very moved by her being an orphan and being taken violently from her home and being subjected to a life of violence. Therefore, she grows up to be this stealth assassin. But she has a heart of gold and really just wants to break away and become free.

Read our Guardians of the Galaxy review here.

What has it been like working with Chris Pratt, who plays Peter Quill in the film?
I have so much respect for what Chris has done because it's like how I feel about the craft as well. If you want something really bad and you understand this character, then that means that you're willing to assume any responsibility or duty that comes with it. And Chris has definitely embodied that role. I have a lot of respect for that. He's a very considerate and serious actor who understands what he has to do for a part and he's willing to put the work into it.

We see some great banter between the two characters, but your first encounter is an action scene. Tell us about the physicality of the role.
When it comes to training, I am getting older, so it's becoming a little like homework. But I like it… as a woman who grew up loving action movies and films that were set in supernatural, unimaginable places. I take being a woman in the film industry who is able to do action movies very seriously because I'm making the kind of movies that I wanted to watch as I was a kid and that inspired me and are the reason as to why I am here.

I really hope that this raises the bar and also sets a standard for the future generations of women who want to pursue a life in this profession. They don't have to just be the damsels in distress. They can actually do a Marvel movie and play a badass character if they're willing to put the work into it because it's tonnes of fun.  

The reward is better than getting compliments like, 'Oh you look so good in that movie'. But hearing, 'You kicked ass in that movie', - that's different. Women are meant to be pretty but we're not really meant to be powerful. So when I am considered powerful with what I do, I regard that very seriously. 

It also entailed a lot of weapons training. Did you like that?
I did. I don't take no as an answer. So wherever I'm told that women can't go past this point, you might as well just wave the green flag and tell me to go, because I'm off. They're not expecting you to come and put in all this work and sweat and dedication and limitless rehearsals to achieve becoming stealth at weapons and things like that.

I love it because I'm doing something that is unorthodox for women, but it's so much fun. It's so much fun to know how to shoot a gun and to deal with a sword and kick and fight. It's liberating. It's a lot of work but then again, going to the gym and doing cardio is just as much work. I'm obsessed with it. I love it. 

Were there any challenges with the makeup?
It's a 5am pick-up, then five hours of make-up and prosthetics. It was challenging because we were trying to find the right green for Gamora. We wanted something that wouldn't put people off but was also vibrant and youthful and would engage people without losing the element that she is an alien. And once we find the right colour, how do we make it stay without hurting my skin?

When I tried on the wardrobe, it rubbed the makeup off because you're using leathers and fabrics that make the body sweat. Fortunately, we were working with the most amazing people, who have done Marvel movies before and also have done special effects makeup and have worked with different types of skin.

So any kind of inquiry that we had was easily solved just with the desire to reach that solution and that to me was amazing. I didn't really have to worry at all when it came to this movie. 

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