If you look up the term “infectious smile,” you should expect to find Zoe Saldana listed as the definition. Regardless of how you are feeling at the moment, how many drivers cut you off on the road that morning or how many cups of coffee you might still be in need of to function properly, when Saldana smiles, immediately, you will find yourself smiling in return, spirits uplifting to heights of joy normally reserved for summer days at the beach and state fair funnel cakes.
Which is why it’s difficult to fathom how this vivacious actress morphs into a hardened, edgy green criminal assassin in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Somehow she manages to make it look effortless on screen.
In person, you believe Saldana’s smile may have the power to change the world. In Guardians of the Galaxy, you believe Saldana (Gamora) has the power to end your world in an instant.
Transitioning to the green world of Gamora wasn’t as easy as it may appear in the final cut of the film. In addition to changing her persona, Saldana endured 4 1/2 to 5 hours of makeup application for filming.
“Sometimes I couldn’t put my arms down,” said Saldana. “If I started to get warm and sweat then the makeup would melt and every take they would have to come and tweak it.”
Seeing herself in makeup for the first time was an odd experience as initially she had contact lenses that she felt made her look like a lizard. Eventually, the decision was made to forgo the contact lenses, allowing the actress more range of expression. The green makeup, however, became a permanent fixture in her life on screen and off.
“It was green everywhere,” said Saldana. “Like on the pillow and the tub. My dog was green. (laughs) It was crazy!”
Additional make-up challenges were faced during emotional points in the film. In a particularly pivotal moment in the movie, Saldana’s makeup kept smearing as she found herself crying continuously.
Action scenes posed another obstacle for Saldana as Gamora is a skilled fighter with super-human powers. A stunt double (Chloe,) tackled some of the more difficult sequences.
“Oh baby, I’m not going to jump the way Gamora jumps,” said Saldana. “We’re on the third story and there’s nothing but metal and she’s on a wire. I’m like, ‘no, no, no. Let Chloe do it.'”
Saldana says Chloe is a fabulous Marshall Artist with amazing kicks. She was always comfortable during action scenes that Gamora “was in good hands.”
To gain a better understanding of the character Gamora and the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series, Saldana had a very special teacher, her nephew.
“He was like, ‘do you even know who you’re playing?’ (laughs) He told me she was taken from her planet and forced into a life of crime,” said Saldana. “And I’m like, ‘yeah she’s a bad ass,’ and he says ‘she’s not a bad ass, she’s an assassin… she has a great sense of justice.’ He had a little list and I thought, she’s so interesting because she is so conflicted. She’s actually a good person, but she was raised to be a bully.”
The actress drew additional inspiration for the character from bull fighters. The graceful way the fighter dances and seduces the bull towards death seemed well-suited for Gamora’s style.
“So I added those little twists and then I thought, well, she’s an orphan,” said Saldana. She was taken from her planet. Kind of reminding me of The Lost Boys of Sudan. Children that are taken and forced into a life of crime and violence and deep down they’re good people. They were meant for greatness and their path was just completely erased before it’s even begun. And I thought, well, that’s Gamora and she’s just trying to give herself a last chance of life to get out.”
All of Saldana’s preparation, makeup applications and and thoughtful reflection will soon be put to the true test. Audiences will have the chance to find out first-hand how well this talented actress brings Gamora to life.
Without offering any spoilers, let’s just say, I’m definitely on ‘team green.’
|Bloggers in attendance at the Zoe Saldana interview (I’m next to Saldana, left side.)|
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