In a world of Batmans and Supermans, no on-screen superhero squad is as hilarious, and entertaining as the Guardians of the Galaxy crew. Made up of Chris Quill, aka Star-lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), the interstellar group of misfits is back again with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, out in theaters on May 5. Following the smash success of volume one of the Marvel movie franchise, the gang's back with more Groot, guns, and villains-turned-Guardians, like Saldana's ass-kicking character, Gamora.
Gamora is, in a word, intense. A woman of few words, and even fewer emotions, she provides both the brains and brawn of the Guardians all while maintaining a perfect resting bitch face. Her strength comes from her resilience after growing up under Thanos (her father — also a super villain) and becoming one of the most feared and respected assassins in the galaxy. But playing a spirited character like that is difficult, especially because, as Saldana admits, she has barely anything in common with her (including the green alien skin).
We caught up with Saldana in between the Los Angeles premiere of the film and her international press tour to talk about being a female superhero, mother of three young boys, and which song she would add to the movie's iconic soundtrack (with a third movie already announced, and an impending cross-over with The Avengers, we think James Gunn, the film's director, should really consider adding Saldana's rec).
Refinery29: What is it like on set when you're filming an intense fight scene like the opener in Vol. 2?
Zoe Saldana: "In the background, we’re kind of doing some kick ass action moves, and I am pretty sure those are the stunt [doubles]. So those days, we were probably not even on set…"
Really? It looks so cool.
"It was awesome, right?"
I was so obsessed with it — with everything — down to the font that they used, and the color scheme…
"I know, it is amazing. But he [Gunn] did it — he designed it [all]. Did you know that Groot’s dance moves are his? He motion captured himself [dancing] and he put his own moves on Groot."
What was the highlight of shooting this movie?
"The highlight was knowing that I am part of something that my kids are going to be able to watch. I love getting to be able to do movies that younger audiences enjoy."
How hard is it to stay serious as Gamora on set?
"So hard. There are a lot of takes that I tend to ruin because I am laughing at something that somebody says because they are also improvising a lot — so it catches me off guard and I can’t keep a straight face."
What parts of your character’s personality do you feel like you relate to most? I feel like she’s a very intense person to portray.
"I don’t know if I have a lot in common with Gamora. I am a little goofier — well I am just goofy, period. And I don’t think Gamora is at all. But one of the things I like most about her is the fact that I learn so much when I play her."
The sister plot line between Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) is surprisingly warm and heartfelt towards the end. Do you think that Nebula will stay in the Guardian family?
"I like the fact that we are seeing what it was like for Gamora to grow up under the grip of Thanos and I also like that we are going to learn a lot more about what kind of sisters they were to each other."
You’ve mentioned in interviews how long it takes you to transform into Gamora. Is that the most time you've had to spend on a movie set preparing to look like a character?
"Absolutely. And I hope it’s the last because it is not fun at all. It is really not fun [laughs]."
I heard that you would make the staff [on set] go get you crazy food and snacks to eat because there was nothing else to do to pass the time.
"You just eat and talk — that is all you do."
Music is obviously a huge part of the film. In real life, what is your favorite song that you would add to the soundtrack?
"I would add 'Baby Got Back' [by Sir Mix-a-lot]. That would be hilarious. I would add anything by Prince or David Bowie. But then again, I don’t know if Prince would have been something [Peter] Quill listened to when he was that young."
How do your boys [twins, Cy and Bowie, and newborn Zen] react to the film?
"They are still too young, and I am pretty sure we will show them the movie like we showed them part one — we picked scenes that we felt were going to be okay for them to watch, so we will probably do the same for this one when it’s out on DVD."
With Mother’s Day coming up, do you have any new or old traditions that you’re doing with the kids now that you have three in the house?
"I think just chilling and watching TV with all the kids on the couch with me and my husband. That would be the perfect Mother’s Day."
You’re also attached to the upcoming My Little Pony movie. I wanted to know if, as a mother of three young boys, it’s important to you that this movie is for every child. How do you handle choosing toys and clothes with them?
"We choose it because they need pants, they need shirts, and things like that. But if they have a preference of a color or a shape or a person or an animal or a story, we will never choose things for them because of their gender. We are very open, so open in fact, that sometimes people mistake them [her sons] for girls because we dress them quite colorfully."