Accidental action hero.
CAN women be feminine and be kickbutt action heroes at the same time?
‘‘ Absolutely!’’ yells Michelle Rodriguez, the 34- year- old who should know a thing or two about it after films such as Avatar, The Fast and the Furious, SWAT and Machete. She’s at it again in Resident Evil:
Retribution, her return to zombie- killing after a decade on the franchise’s DOA list.
Rodriguez likens ‘‘ the battle between the woman and the man’’ to ‘‘ the contradictions between the marines and the air force’’.
As in: the marines, who can ‘‘ hurt people, multiple people, with their bare hands’’, see air force pilots in their airconditioned cabins as soft.
‘‘ It’s a battle between the physicality and the mind,’’ she says.
‘‘ It’s like, women are internalised creatures, we have a different kind of power. And that power has never really been exploited so much as our sex or ‘ Let’s turn her into a dude!’
‘‘ A whole new world for women in Hollywood is opening up, where we can reinvent ourselves very easily because the macho man is dying, he’s being killed by the techy geek – you know, the wimpy- looking Spider- Man or the guy from Wanted who can shoot a gun from the side but can’t kick your ass if you look like Vin Diesel.
‘‘ The Sylvester Stallones and the Arnold Schwarzeneggers are gone. So now there’s room for a girl to play.
‘‘ And when I say ‘ get into my femininity’, I don’t mean be a prissy broad who’s wearing her lipstick and trying to woo some guy while she’s spying. I’m talking about a creature that is intelligent, beautiful and slick.
‘‘ You don’t have to be this tomboy girl holding 25 machine guns, wearing your cargo pants. I’d like to put that away.’’
Rodriguez won’t say how her character Rain, who was killed off in the first Resident Evil, leaving Milla Jovovich to carry on the zombie fight alone, has managed to return in Retribution.
‘‘ Let’s just say when technology starts to mess around with God’s creation, a lot of crazy things can happen. That pretty much sums up the entire franchise,’’ she laughs.
It’s kind of a homecoming for Rodriguez, who famously wouldn’t be pinned down to a multi- season contract on TV show Lost, telling producers she was a ‘‘ nomad’’.
Her mind is equally prone to wandering. ‘‘ I have this MTV ADD thing,’’ she says, thus she can hold court on topics ranging from green- energy buildings to spiritual frequencies.
It’s enough to make you wonder how such a curious creature came to settle on one thing as a career.
‘‘ Movies just happened,’’ Rodriguez shrugs. ‘‘ We were gonna go to [ amusement park] Six Flags the day of the Girlfight auditions. Instead I went to my friend’s house, his mum told me he’s in jail, I’m like ‘ No way!’ Then I was like, ‘ Damn, I can’t be hanging out in Jersey, I don’t belong here’. So I went and, boom! Here I am.’’
Her movie career stopped being so accidental ‘‘ when I realised that every single time as a kid I looked up at the stars, I was wishing for a venue to tell stories. And that I had finally gotten it’’.
‘‘ It was after I got all my DUIs [ drinkdriving citations], after I partied my ass off, after I made tons of money and lost it – it was after all of that I realised, ‘ Holy s--- Michelle, you were a writer and you became an actor because you didn’t think they’d take a writer seriously.
‘‘ Now you’re an actress who’s not taking herself seriously! You need to get your s--- together kid’.’’
Rodriguez’s bad run lasted six years, with multiple arrests, court dates and jail time. On one hand, she admits to still having excessive moments. On the other, she says she keeps herself in check. Either way, she can’t completely quell her natural nuttiness.
‘‘ I’m kinda crazy,’’ she admits with a laugh. ‘‘ I put myself in situations. But I’m very well aware. I’m not a victim of the things that happen to me . . . well, maybe three years ago it was a different story! But now I take responsibility.’’
Hollywood loves a fallen star who gets back up, so Rodriguez never completely trashed her reputation. Still, she says the perception of her in the business is slowly shifting, for the better.
Not that she has much time for the suits that run the business.
‘‘ I’m a creative cat and I can only resonate with creative people.’’
Rodriguez may have to learn suit-speak; she’s returned to her dream of being a writer and has two scripts she hopes to sell to big studios.
‘‘ One’s The Matriarch Society, about a secret society of women that’s been around since the Renaissance era.
‘‘ The other flick I’m working on is a kids’ movie, kind of like the Goonies meets NeverEnding Story but it’s about preservation of animals.’’ RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, Now showing Village Cinemas
MANY FACES: ( clockwise from left) Michelle Rodriguez never seems to be without a gun in her roles in The Fast and the Furious and Resident Evil: Retribution; Rodriguez in Hobart to support the Sea Shepherd anti- whaling activists; and in Machete, Resident Evil and SWAT ( below).