Wednesday 24 May 2017 News Updated at 11:05 AM IST
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Zoe, now a sci-fi queen - Deccan Herald
Zoe, now a sci-fi queen
Kathryn Shattuck, The New York Times
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Role reprisal: Zoe Saldana
As a young actor, Zoe Saldana didn’t imagine being painted green, or blue. But, she said, playing sci-fi characters the hue of bright Crayolas helped her avoid being trapped in a box - or the pain of being rejected for roles because of her skin colour.

"Rather than dealing with that heartache, I did rely spiritually and artistically on the freedom that these science-fiction roles gave me with their different colours of skin,” she said. "And it challenges me as an artiste putting voices to those roles of females that are more action-driven and diverse in a way that defies gravity.”

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Saldana flies high again as Gamora, Marvel’s mean, green killing machine and a major player in the galactic team of heroes led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Her biggest enemy this time is her sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), who has vowed to fight Gamora to the death. Chances are she’ll survive: Saldana will reprise the role in Avengers: Infinity War, as well as return as the cerulean-splashed Neytiri in three Avatar sequels.

The forthright Saldana, 38 - born in New Jersey and reared in New York City and in the Dominican Republic - now nests in Los Angeles with her artist husband, Marco Perego, and their three young sons. In a phone interview from London, where she was recuperating from a manic premiere party, she spoke about female empowerment and raising men. Some excerpts:

All that sci-fi! How did this happen?

I don’t know how to say no to these filmmakers. First I booked Avatar, and as I was shooting that, J J Abrams was getting ready to do Star Trek. And those collaborations got the attention of (the Guardians director) James Gunn. I really didn’t want to say yes because this was the third sci-fi film I’d be doing, and I was afraid it might not be great for my career. But I got the sense that I would be missing out on something so incredibly special that I said yes.

People are saying that the sparring between you and Nebula passes the Bechdel test, as you talk about something other than a man. What’s it like generating that much girl

It feels wonderful. It feels like that’s the way films should be, with more of a female presence. Give them a story, give them their own arc. And it felt great to balance off of a woman and play a sister. I’m one of three sisters, and that’s a topic I feel strongly about.

I’m betting you don’t argue like that...

Oh God, no, and I hope we never will. We have a production company called Cinestar Pictures. We work together, we collaborate together. When you’re busy doing all of those things, you don’t have time to quarrel.

What was Kurt Russell and his windswept hair like?

It was a check on my bucket list. He’s such a risk-taker and an artiste who follows his heart. And we were laughing so hard at that hair. But he was the one laughing the

Peter Quill’s mixtape plays a huge role. What would be on yours?

I’m more a kid of the late 90s, so I’d add some Prince and George Michael, and then take it way back with Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.

You have so many influential women in your life, and yet you’re the mother of boys...

Me having only boys is the universe being absolutely ironic, and I’m accepting the challenge with much love and humility. The biggest enigma is that after so many women, it’s now all about men - seeing them at a very tender age, learning about their biology, understanding who they are and why they are such precious creatures.