Zoe Saldana knows her guns. “I’m a .45 myself. A .22 is too wimpy for me,” says the actress, who plays a skilled assassin in Colombiana. “I like the .9. It’s something that I can manoeuvre, and because I have very small wrists it’s a weight that I can sustain and the impact won’t hurt me in my joints.”
Saldana insists she’s no gun nut. This expertise comes from Hollywood, after starring in a number of firearm-heavy titles like the Losers and Vantage Point.
Colombiana, though, trumps them all in sheer firepower. But her character, Cataleya, is just as deadly without a gun in her hand — something Saldana says isn’t so strange but still catches men off-guard. “I’ve been trained by people that were in the military, Marines, from Avatar to the Losers and now Colombiana, and they don’t see gender when they see a threat across from them. They see a threat,” she says. “So I would say watch out. Anytime you see a skinny girl and she’s had any kind of military training, just don’t blink. She could f---ing kill you.”
Guns and fighting aside, Saldana admits the biggest draw for Colombiana was that it was produced and co-written by French filmmaker Luc Besson, someone of whom she’s long been an admirer. “It’s much more important for me to get to work with filmmakers that I’ve grown up loving and admiring, and Luc Besson is definitely one of the names that was on my bucket list — especially for the iconic femme fatale characters that he’s created, because they’re strong on the exterior but they’re so fragile and broke on the inside,” she says. “There were [other] offers, but Luc Besson took priority.
Already a fan of strong Besson women in films like La Femme Nikita and the Fifth Element, Saldana looked elsewhere for research that might inform Cataleya, including the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But mostly she just watched TV a bunch. “I was watching a lot of animal behaviour because to me whenever she wasn’t playing any of her roles to kill her targets ... she was such an omega wolf,” she says.
No down time
So how does Zoe Saldana relax after a tough day of butt-kicking and gunplay on set? “Wine is perfect to unwind. Just a glass of wine, a bath and just... I don’t know,” she says. But the fact of the matter is the actress doesn’t do a whole lot of relaxing. “I wish I could sugarcoat it for you, but when I’m working, I’m working. So yeah, I’ll have a glass of wine and go out and have dinner with the cast and crew, but before I go to bed I’m reading those lines for the next day. I’m up 30 minutes before I have to get picked up ... and I’m on that treadmill because I want to make sure that I’m healthy and aware — naturally. I don’t drink caffeine.”