Capone lets a little Rain fall on him as he chats with RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION's Michelle Rodriguez!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
It's actually kind of stunning that in recent years when the rise of the female action hero has been debated, discussed, and (often) denied that Michelle Rodriguez's name hasn't come up more. She's been kicking ass regularly for more than 10 years, since her incredible debut in the indie hit GIRLFIGHT, and a year later she landed a leading role in the original THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (a franchise she's apparently returning to with the six installment due next year).
And speaking of franchises, let me list a few for you: RESIDENT EVIL, MACHETE, and the soon-to-be franchise AVATAR. Rodriguez is a part of all of these, and she's made a good living not playing just the girlfriend, wife, or helpless victim. At couple years back at Comic-Con when someone asked her if she's ever consider doing more serious roles, her response was something along the lines of "Why, so I can do a rape scene and then win an Oscar?" She might be crazy, but she's my kind of crazy.
The first time I met Rodriguez was in the women's lockeroom at the boxing gym in close proximity to the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. She was preparing for the legendary Fantastic Debates where she and Draft founder and leader Tim League were about the "debate" with their fists the merits of AVATAR. I think that interview will go down as one of the strangest I've ever done, but Rodriguez was so much fun as she was psyching herself up for battle that I wondered if a regular sit-down interview would be as enjoyable.
When we spoke at Comic-Con this year to talk about her return to the RESIDENT EVIL franchise as the character Rain after 10 years (in RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION), she was still as cool and wacky as ever. We didn't have a whole lot of time to chat, but that didn't stop her from being getting a few things off her mind when it came to the roles she is offered and women in action. Please enjoy my talk with Michelle Rodriguez. Photos come courtesy of Gavin "Malone" Stokes.
Michelle Rodriguez: Hello. How are you doing, man?
Capone: Good. I actually interviewed you a couple of years ago down in Austin right before you boxed Tim League.
MR: Oh right, man. How could I forget that?
Capone: I interviewed you in the locker room right before the fight.
MR: That was fun. I like Tim League; he’s a cool cat.
Capone: So you’re back in this franchise. What led to the decision to come back, or did they just present you with a scenario that was too good to pass up?
MR: Yes, they presented me with a scenario that’s too good to pass up. I mean I hadn’t hung and been a part of the creative process that is working with Milla [Jovovich] and Paul [W.S. Anderson] in 10 years, so I couldn’t pass that up for anything. Besides, he’s really convincing when he comes up with his sci-fi explanation for coming back after getting shot in the head, which you know you have to have a really good one to pull that off. I’m not just going to hop onboard for just any old excuse, it had to be a good one and it was a good one, valid.
Capone: Is that something you can say?
MR: I can’t tell you, you’re just gong to have to watch and find out. [laughs]
Capone: Do you at least get to hang around for most of the movie? You’re in it for how long?
MR: I know what you're saying, because I do all of these cameos and stuff.
Capone: You do have a habit of coming back from the dead; that’s your thing.
MR: It’s a recent thing now. You know what? I don’t know what it is. I guess maybe now it’s cool to be independent and not be attached to anybody. It’s okay to be your own person, which for a while in Hollywood was like “If she’s not the girlfriend, or she’s not with this one, or she’s not doing something with that guy, then what’s the point? Let’s kill her.” [Laughs] I think that the grand majority of the time, no guy could figure out how to keep an independent character like that alive in a script, because it just wasn’t a natural thing. Girls in these action films were always there to make the guy look good or give the guy a reason to save someone, and now we've transitioned from that alpha-macho man who has to save everybody into a geekier version of a superhero, like Spider-Man with THE SOCIAL NETWORK guy [Andrew Garfield] or the guy from WANTED [James McAvoy]. You know what I mean? It's a whole different ball game.
Capone: Between you and Milla you guys kind of came out of the gate with RESIDENT EVIL being ass kickers, so it’s not like they didn’t know what they were getting.
MR: For sure. I love it, I love it.
Capone: Do you get to kick some ass in this movie?
MR: Yeah, a little something something. We get to tease it out, because there are two personalities here. There’s the good Rain personality and then there’s the Rain personality. It’s kind of like being bipolar.
Capone: I’ve heard about this idea that there’s like some sort of storyline where everyone is normal and suburban.
MR: Ah, you’re thinking of THE STEPFORD WIVES bit in Raccoon City, and then you have New York and Moscow and Japan. But it’s in Raccoon City that you get that suburban vibe.
Capone: Right, but are you one of those elements?
MR: Yes, I will be in Raccoon City. You will see an aspect of me there for sure.
Capone: Was that weird for you, dialing it back a little?
MR: Yeah, and I think that was purposefully done to make it more interesting since I’ve spent 13 years of my entire career playing the same character pretty much over and over again, because everything else seems so uninteresting to me. [Laughs]
Capone: And as far as I can tell, you’re going to be in the next FAST AND FURIOUS movie and you just finished shooting the MACHETE sequel…
MR: MACHETE KILLS!
Capone: You’re like the queen of the franchise now. You’ve got like three or four things going on.
MR: They're showing me some love, man.
Capone: The fans must want you back though. These movie makers have to be responding to something.
MR: Well I know that that’s what rang true for the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, because it wasn’t an executive decision from the actual studio until they realized that there was a voice out there that wanted it back. And of course when you’re going on your sixth, you’re like “Okay, well what do we do now? Well what do the people want? Let’s see. Let’s try giving them what they want.”
Capone: Are you done shooting MACHETE KILLS?
MR: Yeah. That was fun. God, that cast is huge, and I love working with Robert. He's just a hoot. I love rebellious cats that do things on their own and don’t rely on studios. I just always find that the grand majority of the time when you have a group of people in this system, you get lost. That’s why I love guys like Paul, who writes his own stuff and shoots his own stuff; guys like Robert--he writes his own stuff, shoots his own stuff, and literally will do like five jobs at once. Jim Cameron, same thing. I’m just attracted and gravitate towards just independent dudes who think independently, because they are the only kind of people who get what I do.
Capone: And all three of them also very often feature female heroes.
MR: It’s definitely a niche, and studios I think are starting slowly to get it with things like THE HUNGER GAMES, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN. SALT was example of them trying to do a non-sci-fi version of TOMB RAIDER. But they're starting to understand that there is a market, and that if you understand how to make a woman believable in the role of a superhero or an action film character then you could actually make money.
But it’s when you don’t get it and try to throw her up as a sexual figure or throw in some corny story and just throw a hot girl in there that it doesn’t work, and time and time again it’s been proven, especially like from 2000 to 2007. Around then, there were failed action movies with female leads, failed female superhero movies. And I’m like, “Dude, can we just get a chick to write it? Get a tomboy chick like me. Hire me to write itl I’ll stop acting for a little while if you pay me enough and I’ll write for you. I bet you it'll be a thousand times better than what you freaking spat out.”
Capone: Why aren’t you on the creative end more?
MR: Ay! Because I’m so busy working so I can make enough money to actually do the creative stuff, because you don’t get paid a lot of money for writing, and they treat writers like shit. The studios always think they know what’s hot, and all they're doing is following trends; they’re not trend setting, and that’s my problem with studios. So I would have to work with somebody like Robert or Jim, people who think for themselves and aren’t really ruled by systems, because it’s an iconoclast thing to build this new genre. I call it the new genre, because it’s only now that you’re starting to tap into its potential--people didn’t get it before. They didn’t know how to make it happen and now it’s like, “Now you get it, so you’re bringing me back all the time.” It’s great. It's wonderful; I love it. I’m grateful.
Capone: You were talking before about these parts you were being offered where it was clear that the roles really didn't suit you. What is the most ridiculous part you’ve gotten offered, where you just said, "Do you know who I am? Have you seen one of my movies? Why are you giving me this?”
MR: A lot of girlfriend shit, just stupid “She’s in love,” or the saved stuff or the girlfriend of the uber-famous actor in the mediocre action movie, and it’s like “Really? You really think that I’m the girlfriend? You think I’m the girl who sits there and gets captured?” That kind of stuff. But it wound away after a while when I defined who I was in the industry. It took, out of the 13 years, I would it took six to stop getting those horrible scripts until I was getting none [laughs], and I realized there’s nothing out there that just fits my world. Then eventually, there came a point in time where I was being resurrected into the realm that started becoming popular.
Capone: Are you starting to get the kind of scripts you have been hoping to get?
MR: No, never man, because these people still don’t get it. I have to write it myself, and once I finished doing all of these franchises, I’ll have enough money to be able to do my own thing and then I’ll be old enough to be writing this stuff for younger girls who are amazing.
Capone: So that’s the goal, though?
MR: That’s what I got into this business for. I got into this business to be a writer. So I’m just killing time and making some money so that I can sustain a new career. Starting a new career isn’t easy. You have to prove yourself. People aren’t just going to say, “Oh Michelle Rodriguez the actress; let’s see what she’s doing.” They don’t give a fuck, they think I’m just another regular actress. Prove your skills as a writer, and then it’s a different story. It’s like starting a new career, so I have to prepare myself monetarily for it.
Capone: Well best of luck. It was really great to see you again.
MR: You too. Thank you.
-- Steve Prokopy
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Sept. 12, 2012, 4:51 p.m. CST
by MOOMBA is HERE
Oh man, she looks like she would just DEVOUR my penis. I wanna fuck her brains out. Fuck. Oh, yeah shes pretty fucking cool. She should play Blaze Fielding in a live-action Streets of Rage. Moomba has spoken!
Sept. 12, 2012, 4:53 p.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2012, 5:08 p.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2012, 5:20 p.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2012, 5:52 p.m. CST
You heard me...
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:23 p.m. CST
i can't help that I have a bit of a weakness for M-Rod
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:23 p.m. CST
I kid. But she does kind of always look a little pissed off. Then again, I suppose people tell me the same thing - some people's faces are just structured in a way that they always look really serious unless they're smiling. As for Resident Evil...I will not pay to see it. I'm sorry, but the quality just does not justify the cost of a movie ticket + concessions. maybe if they hadn't made it into such a pathetic attempt to milk whatever cash from the fanbase they could. And I'm someone who liked the games and owns some of them. The movies just sucked. Another case of using the name, but not living up to it in terms of fidelity. Granted, there's only so much you can derive from a 1996 playstation game where most of the game is spent solving puzzles and shooting zombies. But it just didnt work. And probably that's not all their fault - the first few games just dont lend themselves well to a film narrative without MASSIVE additions and changes - which make it unrecognizable. the only similarity to the games was a few familiar names and enemies - that's it. The feel was just all wrong.
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:27 p.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:35 p.m. CST
It's obvious, she's either a clone or twin sister. She is on the Big Time want to bang list!
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:36 p.m. CST
It's obvious, she's either a clone or twin sister. She is on the Big Time want to bang list!
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:50 p.m. CST
by Bill C.
Sure she keeps busy, but hey--if Milla Jovovich and Kate Beckinsale can have franchises then why not her? Even a DTV one?
Sept. 12, 2012, 6:51 p.m. CST
She does this whole interview about being a kickass chick action star and nobody understanding her and all the comments are "hot rug muncher" and "I'd fuck that bitch"...sigh For the record, I think she's great and it's too bad she's never gotten her own movie to kick ass in. It could have been her in Haywire
Sept. 12, 2012, 7:06 p.m. CST
With that said, I've liked Michelle in everything she's done. And I love the part in AVATAR when she's in the warpaint.
Sept. 12, 2012, 7:53 p.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2012, 8:24 p.m. CST
they just don't 'know' the right people. Or in some cases, not just 'know' them but are married to the director like the other two action hero gals and Linda Hamilton before them. If Michelle would get Brett Ratner to pop the question she'd be sleeping her way to the middle.
Sept. 12, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST
She is bi-sexual right? Love her even moar..great bod on her, very cute..liked her in just about all of her roles.
Sept. 12, 2012, 11:47 p.m. CST
youtube (dot) com/watch?v=W5pgFjKrxDI
Sept. 13, 2012, 12:22 a.m. CST
Despite being pigeon holed into one role, she seems to have a good grasp on how the business work, unlike other flake headed girls that float through the industry.
My genitals get confused...she's attractive but...so manly.
Sept. 13, 2012, 2:12 a.m. CST
by Ben Chaney
Capone let's a little Rain fall on him as he chats with RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION's Michelle Rodriguez!!!
Sept. 13, 2012, 2:49 a.m. CST
by Larry Sellers
=If I decided I didn't want to be typecast tomorrow I'd just go do an indie film where I play some poor girl who goes through some excruciating experience and win myself an award for crying or being raped or playing someone with mental illness. I could give two shits. I only wanna be someone I respect or someone that I consider interesting or fun.=
Sept. 13, 2012, 5:59 a.m. CST
churning this "Resident Evil" shit out. And it seems Michelle Rodriguez, whom i thought was good in "Girlfight", is caught in some kind of vacuum. oh well - one has to pay the rent i guess. She's a damn fine looking woman though, regardless.
Sept. 13, 2012, 8:04 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
It's a shame that she's hopelessly typecast in "butch" roles, because she has the most DAZZLING smile when I see pictures of her at various movie premieres. Someone get this woman a quality romcom, stat!
Sept. 13, 2012, 9 a.m. CST
Happy Chelle is back in the RE Series, but hopefully the upcoming sequel will fare much better than the previous Films.
In the meantime, I'm saving my anticipation for the RE 6 Videogame. Looks very promising.
Sept. 13, 2012, 10:18 a.m. CST
I agree that she's gorgeous, but I don't know how much of her casting is typecasting and how much is her choosing a type for herself. She says in the interview that she would get scripts where she'd be the girlfriend or in love, and that just isn't her. Maybe she was specifically talking about action scripts, but I get the sense that she wouldn't be all that interested in a romcom. Especially not a mainstream romcom. It would take something like a weirdo Charlie Kaufman romcom to please her, I think.
Sept. 13, 2012, 10:47 a.m. CST
by Jazzy Jerk
I've been a big fan of Michelle Rodriguez since Girlfight. I would watch her in damn near anything. Loved her in Machete, and I can't wait for the sequel.
Sept. 13, 2012, 11:19 a.m. CST
Sept. 13, 2012, 12:02 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
She was with Kristanna Loken for a long time (the terminator in T3) and Kristanna talked about their relationship on a local radio show here in LA a few years back. Michelle got really mad. Also, I like almost all the Resident Evil movies. Milla is so convincing, no other female action hero comes close to her. I loved the latest one with Nemesis. However, I heard a criticism that is totally accurate, which was that both her and Ali Larter become more beautiful, and their makeup gets better, the more they fight. They fight IN THE SHOWER for goodness sake. I would so rather plunk down my money for some good genre fun that delivers what I want/expect, than some huge budget studio crap that is just dumb. Not dumb fun. Just dumb.
Sept. 13, 2012, 3:26 p.m. CST
Love her in everything I've seen her in. So what if she doesn't stretch her characters much between roles- if that's what she wants to do, good for her. I don't see people bitching about Stallone or Schwarzenegger doing the same thing over and over. I'd rather watch someone shine in what they do best than try to be something they aren't. Look what happens when Harrison Ford deviates from action movies, Mosquito Coast being a possible exception.
Sept. 15, 2012, 1:08 a.m. CST
"She's in all these movies because no other actress can do what she does. She's cornered the market." - is just the type of comment I hate to see here on Aint It Cool News. mugato5150's comment - "Oh please, there are a thousand girls in Hollywood who can 'does what she does'", "they just don't 'know' the right people. Or in some cases, not just 'know' them but are married to the director like the other two action hero gals and Linda Hamilton before them. If Michelle would get Brett Ratner to pop the question she'd be sleeping her way to the middle.", right below arcadian's (and thank GOD it was right below arcadian's) is just the type of comment I like to see here on Ain't It Cool; exactly the type. "If Michelle would get Brett Ratner to pop the question she'd be sleeping her way to the middle." Beautiful.
Sept. 15, 2012, 11:48 p.m. CST
Paul, bloody awesome, mate. My arse was kicked so many times, congrats. Who loves games, hot babe action, bad ass dude action, big scary mofo monster action, crazy maniac zombie action, weapons with awesome design, military hardware porn (submarines and battleships!), ultra realistic and well designed game levels, some good clone drama, a great homage to Ripley and Newt and an OHMYGOD ASTONISHING APOCALYPTIC ENDING, well, just get your fix. Michelle is a goddess here, what a surprising and awesome part (s-ahem) for her. Sienna is so beautiful and bad ass. And gorgeous Milla, she is the heart and the ASS KICKING HUMAN WEAPON again. IMHO, her face is much better framed and lighted in this movie. The last movie's ending fight was kinda "meh, ok, just like the game". But this time, oh boy oh boy. Babe action galore. And the right babes (yeah)! After reading some shitty reviews, I was very surprised. I knew PWSA was a great visual director and he shows here. But the action here is top notch too (see Alice vs. Tokyo zombies). And with a top notch choice of actors. Imagine this same cast doing "Aliens: Colonial Marines". A geek can always dream... Cheers!
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