With the Fast & Furious 9 trailer out now, Hollywood action star Michelle Rodriguez says we are at a turning point in the movie-making business.
Michelle Rodriguez is hoping an unexpected silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a revitalised, less vain and more creative Hollywood.
Coronavirus all but shut down the blockbuster movie business at a time the industry was under pressure for change due to the #MeToo movement and amid an increased push for greater and broader diversity and inclusion in film and television.
“Not to wish anything like COVID ever on anyone, but I think if you are looking at the bright side of this whole situation, I think it has helped put the important things into perspective for everyone,” Rodriguez tells SMARTdaily.
“We are kind of straddling this line between being really, really woke, or too woke, and cancel culture. We are straddling this line between escapism and what Hollywood movies were supposed to do and reality, and I think that we are going to come out on the other side with a new creativity.”
She laughs as she adds: “Just because I think that there is nothing like a pandemic to force innovation and creativity. We have already gotten creative, look at what people have done with the Zoom. I just think that vanity is going to take a back seat when we get out of this and I think that it is going to be really about new ideas and who has got the most interesting new ideas.”
Rodriguez is a Hollywood survivor with more than 30 feature films to her name, not to mention her lead role in hit TV series, Lost.
The 42-year-old is a bona fide action star, who has managed to keep the focus on her work and causes important to her over fame.
Some of her biggest roles include Avatar, Resident Evil and S.W.A.T. She is best known for her work on the Fast and the Furious franchise, playing former criminal and professional street racer Letty Ortiz since the first movie was released in 2001.
We are now up to Fast & Furious 9 with the much hyped trailer out this week ahead of a much-delayed June release.
“I hope you like it,” she says excitedly. “This one is definitely going to be balls out man. I get surprised every time I read a script. Just when I think you can’t top it, it happens and you are like, ‘really, we are doing this? OK’.”
Rodriguez describes the Fast & Furious franchise as a juggernaut.
“It really is (like a juggernaut). You couldn’t surprise me these days. I swear to god, I think I am numb to it now,” she says of the high octane storylines.
“When I read the script, I am just like, how? How is really the biggest question. That one word keeps popping up scene after scene. I am just like, how? And sure enough, once you get through production and you have seen the final product, you are like, ‘yeah that is beautiful man’.”
Rodriguez plays the wife of Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto, in the latest Fast film.
Directed by Justin Lin, rounding out the all-star cast are newcomer John Cena (who plays Dom’s long-lost villainous brother Jakob) and returning characters played by Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Charlize Theron and Dame Helen Mirren.
“We have always kept it light and we have always laughed at what is happening, and kind of looked at ourselves in the process of telling the story and I think that helps a lot,” she says.
“ I think if you take yourself too seriously, that is when it is very easy to fall on your face when you are doing extraordinary things.”
Rodriguez couldn’t have imagined what the brand would become when she signed on to the franchise with the first film in 2000 alongside the late Paul Walker.
Films number 10 and 11 are already in the works with the titles of those movies yet to be revealed.
“I just kind of accepted it,” she says of the ride. “We represent the kids on the other side of the tracks and apparently there are people like that all around the world and they really love us. And so, you know what, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Rodriguez was born in Texas to Dominican mother Carmen and Puerto Rican dad, Rafael.
The actor “absolutely, of course” relates to hailing from the other side of the tracks.
Next up for Rodriguez is Dungeons & Dragons alongside Chris Pine in the big budget film adaptation of the fantasy game.
* Fast & Furious 9 is released in cinemas nationally on June 17