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Zoe Saldana on Gamora and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

May 03, 2017

By: Lynn Barker

Gamora, the hot, green-skinned warrior woman member of the Guardians of the Galaxy is back in Vol. 2. Actress Zoe Saldana plays her and also Uhura in the new “Star Trek” movies so she is well-known among Sci-Fi fans. She will surprise you in this interview when she talks about her own fandom and who, from a famous Sci-Fi universe, she would like to play next. How does she feel about fans who dress as Uhura or Gamora? What does she do in the make-up chair for hours while she “goes green”? Enjoy this chat with Zoe.

Gamora is onboard to save the Galaxy once againGamora is onboard to save the Galaxy once againCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: What did you most look forward to coming back to do the second movie and what were you least looking forward to?

  • Zoe: Least favorite was the make-up process. I most loved, definitely the relationship between Gamora and (her sister) Nebula (played by Karen Gillan). I’m one of three sisters and I’ve been itching and yearning to see more of a female presence in action films. I love action films. I’m not that deep. I loved watching The Equalizer over any kind of dramatic piece. So, to have a film with three female characters that are adding such unique qualities to the movie, is great.

Gamora (Zoe) with Mantis, Drax and NebulaGamora (Zoe) with Mantis, Drax and NebulaCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: And they all have important parts.

  • Zoe: Yes. They are very relevant and their relationships are explored deeply. I was appreciative, super excited and, in a way, anxious because although Gamora is a reserved character, we couldn’t make it as much of a soap opera as I would have wanted to. I wanted her to be crying with nose goo and everything and James (Gunn, the director) was like “You’re like the Clint Eastwood of the movie” (more reserved and less emotional). I was like “What’s that?”.

Gamora armed with a high tech gunGamora armed with a high tech gunCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: So what do you do while spending time in the make-up chair for like three or four hours? 

  • Zoe: It takes a long time. I  talked my team to death. I don’t shut up from 2:30 in the morning until we’re on set and James says “action”. I’m just like “blah, blah, blah”.  I just keep talking. I feel like that’s how I get time to go by because, if not, I’ll just go crazy. There’s not much to do at 2:30 in the morning besides sleep. You can’t eat, you can’t really move around that much because they need your hands and your face and your mouth needs to be shut because if you open your mouth, you’ll get a whole bunch of green paint sprayed in so you are on the phone and you talk in between.

Gamora at the controls with Drax (Dave Bautista) at her sideGamora at the controls with Drax (Dave Bautista) at her sideCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: How do you feel when you see fans dressed up as Uhura or Gamora?

  • Zoe: You have an out of body experience each and every time. You go through different stages in your mind, like in Wayne’s World, “We’re not worthy!” You feel grateful and so lucky that you got to play a character that impacted people or you are a part of something that is so special that it continues to impact people so that they go to these places and congregate and celebrate. You’re there as their guests and you feel very humbled. I still have a hard time believing I’m here. I’m a geek from Queens (New York). I grew up in a two bedroom apartment and I’ve done three science fiction movies. I guess by running away from boxes (type casting) I found a good place.

Zoe as Uhura in Star TrekZoe as Uhura in Star TrekCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Can you talk about the sister relationship with Nebula (Karen Gillan) and getting to kick butt together on screen?

  • Zoe: We are very opposite to our characters. Karen is very feminine and goofy and clumsy because, let’s face it, these sets are very dangerous. The ground is never flat and we’re on wires and everything and she is so long and lanky and I just never shut up. I’m either talking or laughing at something somebody is saying. Karen kind of teaches me to just bring it. As soon as James says “action”, she’s grrrrr (deep voice) Nebula and I’d try to do that for Gamora, she’s like “don’t do that”. I was trying to alter my voice to sound cool. She changes everything from the look, her walk and we’re behind her going “Can we be as cool as Karen?” No way.

In a forest, Gamora, Star Lord, Nebula and Drax plan their next moveIn a forest, Gamora, Star Lord, Nebula and Drax plan their next moveCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: How was interacting with Sean Gunn (director’s brother and character Kraglin who also dons a green unitard and embodies CG raccoon Rocket on set)?

  • Zoe: It’s amazing. I don’t think that people understand what Sean does. He’s so limber so he manages to shrink and curl up so he’s always Rocket-sized and he gives us all the passion and all the dynamic that we need to have for Rocket who is the sassiest character of the Guardians. I don’t think that we’d be able to respond to Rocket in the same way if Sean wasn’t playing him.
  • I know Sean serves as the perfect reference for Bradley (Cooper who voices Rocket) because, in post-production, whatever Sean leaves behind for Bradley is just what he needs to catch up when we’ve spent those four months shooting. It gives Bradley the perfect reference then he paints over it as an actor and adds his nuances so Rocket is composed of two very important people.

Gamora (Zoe) surveys a very strange landscapeGamora (Zoe) surveys a very strange landscapeCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: Which science fiction movie would you like to do next?

  • Zoe: Well, I was Lady Jessica (from the “Dune” universe) every other Halloween and when I wasn’t a Bene Gesserit, I was a ninja so I would love to be in “Dune”, I think it needs revisiting and I hope (they) decide to do it because I’m one of those people who thinks that David Lynch did a great job but then I was six when I saw “Dune” (1984).

Gamora (Zoe) looks on as Drax talks to Star LordGamora (Zoe) looks on as Drax talks to Star LordCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Q: Music is an important part of this movie. What kind of music are you into? Do you salsa?

  • Zoe: I’d have to or members of my family wouldn’t talk to me! I love all kinds of music. I’m so inquisitive about music. I can hear someone’s playlist and I’m like “Who’s that?” and I download that. I’m a huge fan of Spotify because I can look up people from all over the world and find all these musicians. When I’m homesick and I miss New York and the Caribbean, I listen to (Latin music). And I like the classics Nina Simone, Sam Cook, Ella Fitzgerald. I can listen to Lionel Ritchie all night long.

Q: This film is a lot about family. How do you feel about that aspect of it?

  • Zoe: The reason why I love “Guardians” is that all these characters not only look different but whatever color of their skin or whether they have fur on their backs, there is this increasing desire to belong and be accepted and loved and not be abandoned. I don’t see the Guardians as these awesome kick-ass superheroes, I see them as these really delicate people who are just trying to get by day by day. They found a way by being a-holes as a defense mechanism so I’m very familiar with that aspect of family; people that survive so many things. They teach you to always give the benefit of the doubt, to keep looking within because there is a very special person behind that tough skin and all those walls. That’s family for me.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 PosterGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 PosterCourtesy of Marvel Studios

See Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters now!



Have Your Say

Do you like Zoe better as “Star Trek”’s Uhura or as Gamora? Did you see her motion capture performance in Avatar? Discuss all things Zoe below with a comment.