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NAOMI WATTS - THE INTERVIEW

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NAOMI WATTS - THE INTERVIEW

By Skye Huntington

Born in Shoreham, Kent, England this prolific actress has had a long road to get to the level of success she now enjoys. Her parents divorced when she was just four years old, and at the age of seven, she lost her dad to a heroin overdose. Her father, Peter Watts was a former road manager and sound man for Pink Floyd. When the band learned of his death, they put together a lump sum for Naomi’s family to get by after his passing. She lived in England until the age of 14 when she moved to Australia. After arriving she convinced her mother to let her take acting classes. On one audition for a bikini commercial, she met her future best friend, Nicole Kidman, and they shared a ride home after it. Numerous Australian TV appearances and movies followed. Nicole headed to Hollywood first, and many of her business contacts that Naomi got to meet encouraged her to do the same so she took a chance and came stateside.

The problem was the people who inspired her to leap suddenly didn’t seem to recognize her, and she struggled for a while. That was until 1999 when David Lynch cast her from an 8x10 and an interview for his newest TV series he was pitching called Mulholland
Drive
. They shot the pilot in February that year, keeping it open-ended for a series run. Unfortunately, the pilot was rejected. Lynch then decided to film an ending in October of 2000 turning it into a full-length motion picture. It was picked up for distribution and became a huge critical success. Mulholland Drive thrust Naomi into the spotlight, and she followed that up with a few other films. In 2002, she starred in one of the biggest hits of the year, The Ring, playing a journalist investigating the death of her nieces. The Gore Verbinski horror classic cemented her as a heavyweight in the entertainment industry.

Fifteen years later and her career doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Recently she starred in the memoir brought to life, Glass Castle, and the suspenseful Book of Henry. Naomi also stars in the new TwinPeaks in her long-awaited reunion with Lynch as well as Netflix’s Gypsy, which is about a voyeuristic therapist that Netflix ultimately pulled the plug on. We got a chance to sit down with this bright and candid actress, asking her about both projects, and what makes her choose a script.

STRIPLV: What drew you to The Glass Castle?

WATTS: I was familiar with it, but I hadn’t read it. I was one of the few who hadn’t. I quickly ran out and read it, and obviously, I read the script and thought it was an incredibly moving story, one that was very accessible for audiences. We all have a family, and we all come from a family and been affected by powerful events that took place while mixing it with these extraordinary characters. I was incredibly moved by it. When I read the book and heard Jeannette talk about the writing of the book and the experiences in great detail, it was fantastic. We sort of had this back and forth dialogue about all the different things that took place. Things that didn’t make it to the script that would help with my playing of Rose Mary. You end up just having this dialogue because you come close to these people. You talk about your own experiences and how they make sense to you in the ones that you are about to play. Also connecting with Rose Mary and really falling in love with her spirit and how she managed to prevail with this incredibly optimistic spirit, which really kept them from falling apart many times.

STRIPLV: Tell me about Rose Mary Walls story.

WATTS: There is an extra challenge of bringing it from the pages to real life. You want to honor their story in the most empathetic way and truthful way. I think the Rose Mary character has been misunderstood. I talked about that with Jeannette. Even some of the interviews available out there on the Internet spoke to that. They didn’t like that she was this kind of mother. I wanted to make sure that I could play that with the right amount of empathy and that meant really understanding who Rose Mary was, and getting into her mindset.

STRIPLV: How was it working with the director Destin Daniel Cretton?

WATTS: Destin creates the most beautiful, fantastic and fun environment. He gives everybody their special moment no matter big or small it is. He lets them roll with it. He’s so up for the fun and games. I mean some of the times it felt like we were all just in a big acting class together, and we would just get to experiment. He lets you just go, even if it’s wildly over the top or something incredibly subtle, he’s there’s for it. I loved working with Destin.  He brings so much to the table. What happened during the film production was that we all ended up talking about our own families. The fun, the pain, and it became sort of a cathartic experience for all of us.

STRIPLV: Rose Mary’s character has a lot of dynamics to it. Tell us more about playing the part.

WATTS: That makes her so human and fun to play. You don’t want to just play something on one note. In the opening moments of the film, you see her daughter ask her to make her lunch, and she responds “You go make it, and make some for me when you’re at it.” And that’s not what you’re used to when you’re watching a mother. And you can be quick to judge, but I wanted to show that there were things about Rose Mary that were, yes different, but she gave other things that were incredibly powerful as well, and that meant a sense of self-worth and believe in yourself and don’t change who you are and don’t hide, just be you. There was never any lack of love no matter how many difficulties they went through. She had a playful and positive spirit at all times.

STRIPLV: How was it working with Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson?

WATTS: Woody is fantastic. He’s brought his experience from his family and experienced pain and ups and downs as well. We all had a way to relate to this family. We’re all creative people, and there was a lot of creativity, and that was a driving force in Rose Mary’s nature and the same with Rex. And Brie she’s just so powerful to watch. The first day she had just gotten her Oscar, and she was just so present. She didn’t have any lines that day, but just what went on behind her eyes was incredibly powerful and magnetic and so raw. She’s a really wonderful actress.

STRIPLV: What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?

WATTS: I think there are lots of different themes going on, but I think forgiveness. And the survival aspect that we can through these difficult times and own who we are, however different.

STRIPLV: Let’s talk about The Book of Henry.

WATTS: I played Susan, the mother of two boys, one of which is a genius, who is taking care of a lot of the responsibilities. Which you never want as a parent. They are two very special boys. There are some great suspenseful moments, great thrilling moments, great laughs and a lot of emotion and it’s a very cathartic experience. I loved this character when I read the script, but I also like how it changed tones. You can’t place it, and you can’t put it in a box. In many ways, it’s a fun movie, and then it gets very sad. There are some lovely relationships between the boys, and then my character becomes kind of a bad ass! (Laughing) Colin Trevorrow, the director, is highly accomplished and he handled the character and human emotion aspects of the film as well as scope and excitement brilliantly. We got to do some fun stunts as well as some complicated dramatic scenes as well.

STRIPLV: I thought Maddie Ziegler was just spectacular in the film.

WATTS: She was just fantastic. And I was told she had never acted in a film before, which was kind of mind-blowing. She is just so expressive through her physicality and her dance. It was wonderful to see her do another form of storytelling. She’s a complete natural. She’s fully connected, and it’s not surprising really when you see her move on the stage as a dancer. It makes perfect sense that she can do just the same as an actor in the acting world.

STRIPLV: What is your process in deciding which roles to take on?

WATTS: It’s just whatever speaks to me. You read a script. Does it come off the page? Does it land in your gut?

JASON MOMOA - BUSTING OUT

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JASON MOMOA - BUSTING OUT

This striking part Hawaiian, part Irish, part Native American actor first came to acting as a part of Baywatch Hawaii, the television series that ran from 1991-2001. He landed the part at an open casting call held for the show. When his time for the audition finally came, the producers of the show asked him what type of experience he had, and his answer was to fake it. He was there with a friend at the time and they started to make up on the spot that he was a male model working for the likes of Prada and other big fashion names. When he indeed ended up landing the role, managers on set helped him to create a headshot and resume detailing his fictional modeling career. After the show wrapped, he found it was more helpful to keep the modeling credits on his resume rather than continue with Baywatch as his only experience.

His career evolved after leaving the red trunks behind with other parts in movies and television series such as a stint in the Stargate TV series. During this period he met and fell in love with his wife, Lisa Bonet. The couple now has two children of their own, and as a result, Momoa is now step-father to Bonet’s daughter Zoe, a child from her previous marriage to rocker Lenny Kravitz. In 2011, Jason hit the movie role jackpot with the starring role in the reboot of Conan The Barbarian. When asked if he was intimidated stepping into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic role he said:

“No, I never saw the movie, so it wasn’t intimidating. I know I can never be him. It’s really hard, the two of us are so different, and when you watch it, you don't see Arnold right? It's like you watch James Bond, it's Sean Connery, and Daniel Craig, they are fantastic, but they are not even remotely alike."

Around the same time, Momoa also auditioned for a little TV pilot called Game Of Thrones. His audition not only landed him the part of Conan, but also launched him to fame with a part as Khal Drogo in the now wildly popular HBO series. He thought at that moment he had made it, but Conan wasn’t a big success and his time on GOT was limited. But a cameo in 2016’s Batman Versus Superman confirmed that he had landed the role of Aquaman the in highly anticipated superhero release Justice League, which comes out next month. Fans have been clamoring for it since its big four-minute trailer debut at Comic-Con in San Diego this past summer.

STRIPLV got the chance to interview this next-in-line big-time action star, and ask him about how it all feels, and what it was like working with Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey in Bad Batch, which came out this past summer.

 

STRIPLV: Jason, how does it feel to be the next big franchise superstar?

MAMOA: It feels great, dude! Bring it on! (Laughs)

STRIPLV: You’ve made an incredible jump from playing a Dothraki leader to starring in The Bad Batch, Justice League, and your upcoming Aquaman film.

MAMOA:  It’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it. It’s been a hard road for me to get to this point. People talk about my role in Game of Thrones, but it didn’t do much for my career. I was struggling to find work, and it was pretty bleak. I also didn’t want to take any jobs where I would just play a guy who grunts. I wanted to show other sides of me. But not being able to find a good role was what got me to write Road to Paloma, which got into Sundance and that led to my getting hired for The Red Road. I’m not thinking about the past, anymore, though, it’s all looking good now.
STRIPLV: What was it like working on The Bad Batch with all those major stars like Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey on the set?

MAMOA:  It was great. My character has a very brutal survivor’s mentality to him, but he’s also capable of great care and affection at times. I also loved working with Lily [director Ana Lily Amirpour]. My wife and I are huge fans of her film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [a vampire western]. It was incredible to get to work with her and be part of the vision she brings to this very extreme world.

STRIPLV: With Aquaman in the works, do you wonder how being the star of a major new film franchise will change you?

MAMOA: No. The only difference it’s going to make is that I won’t worry about putting food on the table anymore or the next mortgage payment. I’ve had to go through that kind of thing and being forced to take jobs to take care of my family, and now I have the freedom to choose the work I want to do. I also have some friends who’ve gotten to enjoy some success working in big movies and it hasn’t changed who they are. It won’t change who I am.

STRIPLV: Are you a big family man?

MAMOA:  I love my family. I live for that. We live in Topanga (California) on a five-acre property where we’re out in nature, and we have goats and dogs and a donkey. I get to take my kid’s hiking and mountain climbing a lot. Climbing can be 

tough, but it also teaches them to push themselves and gain self-confidence. The more you overcome your fears, the stronger you’re going to be in life.

STRIPLV: You’re a larger-than-life figure in most of your acting roles. Are you a gentle giant as a dad?

MAMOA: (Laughs) I definitely don’t act like a tough guy at home. I’m a pretty soft guy at heart. I’m very relaxed, and I like to think I have a lot of enthusiasm and spirit when it comes to life. I love being with my wife and children, and I like my children to think of me as their papa bear.

STRIPLV: What can you tell us about your background?

MAMOA: I was born in Hawaii, but I grew up in Iowa where I was raised by my mother. She’s Irish-German and also has some Native American ancestry, but I don’t think of myself in terms of being Hawaiian or white or whatever. It’s the same with my work. I’m playing action guys now, but I see myself doing a lot more than that. Playing these roles and getting to do Aquaman is going to open up a lot of different work for me and that’s exactly what I’d like to do with my career. I think being raised by a single mother gives you more vulnerability and sensitivity as an individual. I can be tough when I need to, but that’s not the way I am in person.

STRIPLV: So how would you feel if your kids wanted to go into the business?

MAMOA: I mean, I’m going to support them through everything. I can’t give them knowledge, if they are mathematicians and lawyers and doctors, fantastic. I’ll support them in anything that they want to do. But I’ll surround my children with music, and dance and the arts and theatre and pray that they can express themselves through mind, body and soul and that to me is the ultimate art form. In acting, you’ve got to find yourself. It’s good for people that even aren’t actors; it’s good to get in there and dig out some demons and find at the root of what you are and express yourself, put yourself out there and for all to display and for people to judge. It’s not an easy thing, so it’s great. I think it’s easy to be a critic, but it’s hard to get out there and make something original.

STRIPLV: How do you think you are going to do with the whole heartthrob sex symbol thing?

MAMOA: I don’t know. I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised in the Midwest, where it’s like you grow up to do your workload, and you are not known for your sex appeal. You graduate with 50 kids in a white farm town. I was not raised in LA; I don’t have that, it’s not in my roots. I mean, so it doesn’t really affect me. “Thank you for the compliment and have a nice day.” I don’t really know how to react to it.

STRIPLV: Have you been star-struck by anyone?

MAMOA: You know I’m a really big geek. I get star struck by everything; I really do, I like that. I’m just excited about life, you know? I was star struck by my wife, I’m star struck by Christian Slater, he’s in my movie, and I was like, he was bigger to me than Arnold, like Gleaming the Cube was my movie when I was growing up because I was a skateboarder, stupid, but that was my big thing. I am star-struck by that, and if I saw Jack Nicholson, I’d be blown away or Daniel Day-Lewis, and I’m always going to be. Stallone when I met him, I said yes, cause it’s Rocky, I mean, I’d be an idiot not to. I’m doing an axe fight scene with Rocky, that’s awesome. I’m still a geek.

STRIPLV: How does it feel to have landed the Aquaman role?

MAMOA: It’s hard to believe. I first got the role three or four years ago, but I couldn’t say a word about it and that kind of drives you crazy because you’re so excited and thrilled about it.

STRIPLV: How did you get cast for the part?

MAMOA: Zack Snyder [the film’s original director who dropped out of the project because of the death of his daughter] saw me at the training facility I was going to where I practice stunts and asked me if I would meet him at his office. He was a fan of Game of Thrones and knew me from that series, and that’s when we first started talking about Aquaman. Originally, though, he asked me to do an audition tape for Batman. I never thought I would get that, but he and the studio liked what I did and that led him to eventually offer me Aquaman.

STRIPLV: What is your perspective on Aquaman?

MAMOA: I can identify with how he’s someone who’s not accepted in either of his worlds. His mother is from Atlantis, and his father is from Earth. I was raised in Iowa where I didn’t really look like everyone else.  I was also raised by my mother, which is the case with Aquaman.  So that gives me a lot of insight into who he is, and I hope to be able to bring that out in the film.

5 IN FIVE WITH ORLANDO BLOOM

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5 IN FIVE WITH ORLANDO BLOOM

STRIPLV:  How did you get involved in the project?

BLOOM:  I got involved in the project a couple of years ago now when I sat down with Michael Apted in London. He explained his passion for the film and his view of the character in a way. There are a handful scenes in the film where my character has an impact on Noomi, who is the protagonist in the film. Michael was really open to some of the thoughts that I had, and he had some great ideas too. The guy starts as a bit of a rogue. He’s then a bit of a lover and charming. Then he has sort of a heroic turn, and then he turns into this duplicitous and dangerous kind of guy. Then he becomes sort of a thug. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants because he is that guy, a hired gun. That for me was a fun opportunity.

STRIPLV: What was the most challenging scene in the film for you?

BLOOM:  I have this dog attack me at the end, and when you have 250 pounds of Rottweiler diving at you and grabbing your arm it gives you quite a rush. Admittedly it was padded, but that was, that was an adrenaline rush that I haven’t had before.

STRIPLV:  How much training did you have to do before you started shooting?

BLOOM:  We worked out the flight routines, and learning flight routines are like learning sword routines. You kind of just do the work and the muscle memory kicks in, and it’s kind of like learning a dance routine. There was a certain amount of prep to get that right, but it wasn’t extensive.

STRIPLV:  Tell me about working with Noomi.

BLOOM:  She’s wonderful. She’s a very committed actress and very authentic and original. She’s very talented. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that is when I first saw her. That’s a tour de force performance. That’s one of those once in a lifetime performances.

STRIPLV:  What can the audience expect from Unlocked?

BLOOM:  It’s like a female Bourne, if you like. When I first read it, it reminded me of that expect you’ve got Noomi Rapace at the center of the film. It’s an action thriller, adventure, but it has a true-to-life story that’s unfolding. We live in a crazy world today. Terrorism and these types of acts of terror do happen. This movie follows the journey of this their characters, and somehow they get through it.

THE DARK TOWER - INTERVIEW WITH IDRIS ELBA AND MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY

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THE DARK TOWER - INTERVIEW WITH IDRIS ELBA AND MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY

By Skye Huntington

The Dark Tower is the first film adaptation of the wildly popular eight book series of prolific author Stephen King. It had been shopped to many studios for many years, and now with Ron Howard championing the project, the movie is now a reality. When fans of the series heard the movie run time was only 95 minutes there was some social media uproar. They didn’t consider the fact that the goal here is to make some sequels. King took to Twitter to assure fans: “It’s true The Dark Tower movie runs a clean 95 minutes. Like the first book in the series (224 pages), it’s all killer and no filler.”

STRIPLV got the chance to speak with the two stars of The Dark Tower and ask them about their experiences making this long-awaited release.

STRIPLV: How did you feel about taking on this role in The Dark Tower, and meeting the expectations of the fans of this very successful book series written by Stephen King?

ELBA: For me, it was like wait, for real, I was like this is Stephen King. I was like how do you take this series of books and turn them into a film? The truth is hearing from his fan base is really really helping. Positive for the film, positive for the casting. So I am really excited about showing them what we’ve done.

McCONAUGHEY: We knew that we were stepping into to something that already had its own DNA. At the same time, it was already built to succeed. People have been trying to tell the story the right way for years. We hope we did. So, we had momentum going into it.

STRIPLV: How did you both prepare for your roles in the film?

McCONAUGHEY: My guy is a good “yes guy,” as any good devil is. You know (chuckling) he gets you in the yes’s, not the no’s. I know I just said an excess of yes’s. (laughing)

ELBA: No I know what you are talking about man. (laughing)

McCONAUGHEY: Catch that fire and walk away whistling. So I did approach me from the villain, which I definitely am. Walter (his character) believes he is enlightening people. So, is he doing that in an evil way? Sure. Is he doing that by exposing people’s hypocrisy? Sure. Is he doing it with torment? This relationship that Walter has with Gun Slinger (motioning to Elba), it’s a sick little love story. (Speaking to Elba) He wants you to stay alive, and he wants you to get close. He wants you to still fight back, but don’t get fully reloaded; you know what I mean? For me, that’s how I approached that.

ELBA: For me when you have characters that are this rich and have so much for you to lean back into, you just have to approach it with honesty, integrity, and decipher what is going to make this character live onscreen. In my case, there was a lot of actual physical preparation. I worked with the last of a long line of body guards that use guns. I had to learn how to do that really well. But at the same time, my character is equally as tormented and shares a history with the man in black (pointing to McConaughey).

STRIPLV: Can you tell us about the central conflict of the movie and a little about the Dark Tower Mythos?

McCONAUGHEY: Good versus evil. Of mythic proportions. We’ve been chasing each other over deserts for hundreds of centuries, if not thousands of years. There is this tower that is like the vortex of the universe. He (Elba) wants to fight to keep it up. Because if it falls apart all hell breaks loose. I’m working to bring it down. What brings it down? Purity, almost innocence. Which brings in our youth, and our child who has the shine the sort of pure concentration to do so. That’s what can bring the tower down. And that’s what I want to do. I want the chaos. I want to unleash the lashes and the fangs. And let it all be chaos.

ELBA: When the audience joins the story in this film. This has been going on; this is a 900-year war. I’m the last guy standing trying to protect the tower. And the man in black. No disrespect, but the crimson king is the man. And the man in black works for the crimson. And he’s like, I’m working for the crimson I’m going to get as much purity as I can, and I am going to get that tower down for you, even though we’ve been doing this for 900 years. And he finds one kid whose purity is so good so strong that he makes a bee line for him. And that kid makes a bee line for my character. And so we all, for the first time in many years, the gun slinger and the man in black meet up.

STRIPLV: How did you both train for the battles scenes?

ELBA: There was a lot of muscle training to try and make it look as fluid as possible. The guns are really long and heavy, so I really did have to do a lot of training. Shooting the six shooters is a sport and how quickly can you reload them. There are guys that can do it really quickly. That was the basis of my training in the very beginning. But of course, there was a certain amount of movie magic that happened to make it look that slick. It was really fun.

McCONAUGHEY: You said earlier that you were feeling very agile. You were off your feet on your feet, somersaults, head over heels. (laughing)

ELBA: I really looked forward to doing all that.

STRIPLV: How did you convey what the man in black’s power was?

McCONAUGHEY: The hardest part for me, which I trained for and hope I pulled off, was the shape shifting. You know being here and just showing up in a different place. I’m still working on that.

ELBA: Yeah right. (laughing)

McCONAUGHEY: No, it’s just that my part is very different than Idris’s is. The man in black rarely ever breaks a sweat. It was all with ease. And the only time that I was really in the ring was when we come together at the end. When does the 

man in black actually break a sweat? It’s at the very end where we come together for the ultimate confrontation. But along the way I just dancing through rain drops picking up things along the way. With a grin and a kiss.

STRIPLV: What was it like working together?

ELBA: When he is working he doesn’t like to party too much I suppose.

McCONAUGHEY: (laughing) It’s not like that. On school nights I head straight home.

ELBA: What I did learn about him. When I actually got the chance to hang out with the man and just talk. He is super engaging, super, super, real. Real collaborative process. It was really beautiful to do that. You suspect that if a man doesn’t want to fraternize with the other guys too much that he is going to be closed off. But Matthew is really warm, and open, and really good to work with.

McCONAUGHEY: Did you know that he has an undefeated Muay Thai career? This is true. Undefeated. Never been beaten. Fact. Undefeated. Period. There is no other way to end that am I right?

ELBA: (laughing) Yeah I am going to be on the card for the second MacGregor fight.

McCONAUGHEY: They are going to be calling you soon. (Elba laughs again)

ZOE SALDANA - MIDAS TOUCH

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Zoe Saldana - Midas Touch

By Frank Ariveso

 Zoe Saldana breathes a huge sigh of relief at the mention of the upcoming third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which director James Gunn only revealed the day before. “It’s the greatest,” she squeals. “To be promoting the second, knowing there’s going to be a third, it’s an amazing validation.” Like there was ever any doubt. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the highest grossing movies of 2014, bringing in nearly a whopping $800 million at
the box office. And the follow-up has grossed even more topping $859 million at the time of this writing. Plus, there’s the Saldana Midas touch. With Guardians, Avatar and Star Trek, she’s part of the biggest sci-fi franchises known to man. Where Zoe Saldana goes, big returns follow. But now a married mom of three young boys, the actress is beginning to question her intergalactic leanings. Promoting the Marvel blockbuster, which sees her lethal weapon character, Gamora reteam with Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket to save the universe from another gargantuan threat, Zoe admits it might be time to come down to earth. And recent roles in Ben Affleck’s gangster saga, Live by Night, are testament to this change in direction. That doesn’t mean Saldana’s done with kicking butt. Open and warm, the 38-year-old chats about her initial reservations over the latest Guardians epic and explains her fears of “one hit wonders.” She also chats motherhood, balancing it all, her partnership with artist husband Marco Perego and why her attitude toward men has drastically changed. Saldana lives in LA with Perego and their twin boys, Cy and Bowie, 2, and two-month-old, Zen.

STRIPLV:  Chris Pratt talked to me about the difference in attitude on set from the first to the second movie, when everyone expected you to fail to the pressure that’s on now because of the huge success. How was it for you?

SALDANA:  I was very nervous. I was nervous because sequels can be dangerous. And we all were feeling the pressure. I think the first couple of days, we all had moments of, “Can we do this again?” “What was the secret ingredient? Do you know, does anyone? Should we just leave it there, not mess with it?” There were a lot of nerves. And we probably should have been coming back really cocky, slapping each other’s backs. When something hits so well, how can you go better? Could we go better? That was scary. This danger of throwing away what we had just for another roll of the dice. The stakes were huge. Are huge. And once we were in it, all that fear melted away. James was in charge, and his vision was present and trustworthy, and I just hopped on the ride and went with it. So it was very different from the first. Way different. Different planet, different.

STRIPLV:  Fans really loved Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

SALDANA:  The key word here is “more.” More stunts, more action, a lot more jokes. Which is saying something because there was a lot in there, to begin with. We knew their personalities so much more; we could grow with them, laugh with them. There’s more love, more affection. More tears. Just everything was heightened and bettered; I didn’t know this was possible because the first was such a beautiful, perfect package of originality and heart. James Gunn, never underestimate this man because he is the best of the best.

STRIPLV:  I like where you took Gamora.

SALDANA:  She’s come a long way from the first movie. Which is impressive as it takes off basically right after it ends. She was an escape artist, always had one foot out the door before, that was her primary concern at all times, that’s how she lived her life. Until she found a core and a reason to be within this unusual family and Gamora is the moral center, she’s the one who keeps them together. The matriarch. Much like, very similar to my role within this group. It’s my lot in life, to wrangle these guys, keep them disciplined. She makes out as she hates it, but really, she’s happy. She belongs, which is a first for her.

STRIPLV:  Speaking of family, things get heated with Gamora and Nebula, which fans including myself were really looking forward to seeing.

SALDANA:  Me too, I was super excited to see how Gamora and Nebula’s relationship played out because there’s a lot going on there. Sisters with a very fractious bond in that they despise each other, hate everything the other represents and they can also seriously throw down. They’re matched, and we get to dive into their history, discover the root of their demons, discover why they are the way they are. But instead of catty remarks and some hair-pulling, they try to hurt each other mercilessly and kill each other. Which isn’t that how sisters behave? (Laughs)

STRIPLV:  Did Gamora’s roles as a mom feel comparable to your own at home, now that you have three little ones?

SALDANA:  Yes, I can see that. But Gamora has big big stupid kids; I have gorgeous little infants who are far better behaved. And that’s saying something. I have two-year-old twins who like to say no, a lot.

STRIPLV:  How is life with such a young family?

SALDANA:  I haven’t slept in two years. (Laughs) I barely have one eye open right now. It’s wonderful, more than I could have wished for but it’s also fucking hard. You know, the twins, they’re completely in sync. They eat at the same time, they poop at the same time, two for the price of one. The little one is on his own schedule, it’s challenging, and I’m loving the challenge and loving the love. But it’s exhausting, and I’ve never known this kind of exhaustion.

STRIPLV:  You’ve got maybe a dozen movies in the pipeline, how do you do it all? Most people would crack up.

SALDANA:  I am in a very fortunate, lucky position because there are so many mothers and fathers who are doing it by themselves and succeeding and triumphing. My family are amazing, huge support system, we have great people working with us, we have all that to help us achieve our goals and dreams, which I want to be this example to my kids of never letting go of your dreams. The people who do it without support, without family, they are heroes. They are ultimate, fighting superheroes. My husband is my guiding star. He makes it happen for me. While I’m committed to these jobs, he flies out with the boys to wherever I am, flies back, flies forth, he has made it so doable and so comfortable, and I’m blessed to have him on this journey. It’s all about planning. And it’s about both of our careers because yes, right now I have certain commitments but then it’s about laying mine aside, and now it’s Marco’s turn, and I’ll travel and go, do whatever is necessary to make things smoother for him and his work. It’s about meticulous planning and understanding and having that comfort that both of us have each other’s back. That’s what you do when you’re in a partnership.

STRIPLV:  How do the twins find life on set? Do they understand what’s happening? Do they get it?

SALDANA:  They do. More than I thought they would. When Mommy’s green, that means she’s going to work. They understand Gamora is work. I say to them, I have to go to work and they go, “Mommy Gamora, Mommy go green. Mommy Hulk.” They perk up.

STRIPLV:  So they think you’re the Hulk?

SALDANA:  They love the Hulk. For some reason, they’ve connected with him. We’re doing Avengers now, and they see Mark (Ruffalo), and in their logic, they see green, and they think Gamora and Hulk are from the same family. And now when I raise my voice, it’s “Mommy going Hulk.”

STRIPLV:  Doesn’t that scare them because Hulk is scary?

SALDANA:  I thought it would. (Laughs) I thought I could use it to my advantage, but I think they find it funny more than threatening.

STRIPLV:  Being exposed to this side of blockbuster and filmmaking, it’ll be so blasé to them.

SALDANA:  I hope not. There’s still this feeling of enchantment which I’m glad it hasn’t become boring and normalized for them because I don’t want to start them on that foot. I’d hate for what they see on film sets between the make-up and costumes, for that to burst their imagination bubble and interfere with that sense of wonder.

STRIPLV:  You’re known for your actions roles, but we’re seeing you more and more in more human dramas like Live by Night, and I Kill Giants. Is that an intentional move?

SALDANA:  I want to portray more vulnerability, human vulnerability. I need to come back to earth more often; I feel like I’m always floating in space. I’ve been there for well over a decade. And loved every minute. Action, sci-fi that has been my zone and will stay that way. But it might be nice to bask in the everyday. Be in the norm. Saying that it’s hugely important to me to play these kick ass, sci-fi roles as an example for young women because there still aren’t that many parts in that genre for females who aren’t a romantic foil. That’s massively important to who I am as an actor. I need to do what I can in that respect because as a young girl watching myself; I was so hungry for that representation. I wanted to see girls kick butt and now, I get to kick butt and I want
to continue kicking butt, not only for myself but for them. I like setting that example. I’ll never stop.

STRIPLV:  Has motherhood changed how you tailor your choices?

SALDANA: My attitude has done a total 180 when it comes to the choices that I make and the change in my life, my sons, my husband, has something to do with it. I’m surrounded by the greatest men. I’ve got a houseful of men, which is the complete opposite to my upbringing, all females. I feel like I’m learning so much about men now that I never knew before being surrounded by them. And especially at this initial stage of development. My husband, his approach, and outlook on life is so beautiful and worldly and not sexist in the least, the total opposite. My boys are my light. Before that, I think my approach came from my uncomfortableness in a way, always this need to be better (than a man), to beat them and that bred this desire to be strong and aggressive, strong to me was aggressive and intense. But now that I’m raising men, all men, which I never really considered would happen, with a wonderful man, it’s made me readdress my perspective, that perhaps it doesn’t always have to be so emotionally and physically forceful. Strength comes in many forms; strength comes in quiet, strength comes in physiological resilience. I’ll always love to kick ass, that will never change, but there can be varying shades.

STRIPLV:  How is Avatar 2 going?

SALDANA:  Production started in August. Fabulous things are worth the wait, and knowing what James is capable of, it is worth the wait. James loves this story, he loves these characters but most of all, he adores the fans. He does it for them and wants to deliver the absolute utmost to them. And I’m enjoying going back to Pandora.

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