If you’re a fan of the Resident Evil franchise, you’re probably wondering how Michelle Rodriguez is back in the fifth installment after what happened to her in the first film. It’s called cloning. Also, it’s Resident Evil. What I’m trying to say is, don’t spend too much time thinking about it. The fact is, while the newest installment of Resident Evil is called Retribution, it really should have been called All-Stars because director Paul W.S. Anderson has brought back a lot of the previous cast in what’s probably the second to last film. If you’re a fan of the franchise, it should be a lot of fun to see your favorite characters one more time.
Last month I got to visit the set while the production was filming in Toronto and participated in a group interview with Rodriguez. She talked about returning to the franchise, how she’s playing two versions of the same character, working with the weapons and the action scenes, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to what she had to say.
Before going any further, here’s the official synopsis from Retribution and the just released teaser trailer:
The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, ALICE (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.
As usual, I’m offering two ways to get this interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below. Resident Evil: Retribution opens September 14.
Michelle Rodriguez: I know! It’s pretty damn cool- you’ve got to love sci-fi, man. For a long time I was kind of pissed off they kept on killing me off. I was like, “what am I doing wrong? Just because I’m not ripping off my clothes, how long do I have to endure this before people start appreciating me?” (laughs) And then they started bringing me back so I was like “cool.”
I was going to say, that’s not necessarily sci-fi if you consider the ending of Fast Five.
Rodriguez: Yeah, that’s Vin’s handiwork right there. Love him.
We talked to Oded Fehr a little bit earlier and he was saying how you’re playing a dual role in this movie and how you’re defying your usual roles and playing that up a bit. Can you talk more about that?
Rodriguez: Yeah, that was fun. Well, basically Paul’s original idea was that a UPS worker would be one of the clones and then we got together and we started to brainstorm and we came up with this juxtaposition of me playing a tomboy all the time and he said, “wouldn’t it be nice to see you feminine, Michelle?” And I was like, “yes, that would be nice before it all wrinkles up and I can’t use it anymore.” So I figured I’d might as well do it. I threw on some high heels, added a nice little ‘hippy twist’ to the whole thing and before you know it, I’m driving a Prius in Zombieland. It was pretty cool.
Rodriguez: You know, I find it kind of fun because I’ve played the same character for so long that it’s kind of like I am always an exaggerated version of my angry side. I’m so comfortable with her that it was kind of cool and fun to play something awkward and different- someone who is quirky and doesn’t know how to handle a gun and someone who is curious. I kind of feel like an audience member while playing that character because I’m like “what the hell is going on here? Why are you dressed like a superhero? How come there are dead people walking around on the streets?”
Nice. Did you play up the comedy at all?
Rodriguez: A little bit. But I think it’s more about how it plays up on the audience’s perspective of what the character represents.
What would you say the screen-time ratio is between “Good Rain” and “Bad Rain” then?
Rodriguez: More “Bad Rain.” She just gets more action- by a mile.
So we’re essentially seeing the Raccoon Outbreak through your eyes in some respects.
Rodriguez: In some respects, yes. For sure.
Rodriguez: Ha! Good luck! When I first sat down for lunch with Paul, I had absolutely no idea what the plot line was about. As soon as he came out with the clone thing, I was like “Duh! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!” That’s such a great, great way to bring back as many people as you want.
Did you monitor the fan reaction at all? Because as soon as your name was attached to the project, the fan boards lit up. Did you kind of think “Holy shit, I was just in the first movie; I didn’t know Rain was going to be that significant of a character to the fans.”
Rodriguez: Yeah, I had absolutely no clue. I was completely psyched to hear that I was coming back and that the fans were down for it too.
Coming back to the fifth one, after being away- what strikes you as the biggest differences between being on set for part one and for this one?
Rodriguez: It has more of an action movie feel now. Back then, it was way more sci-fi. You could really feel the sci-fi; it was everywhere. (laughs) But now it’s action- it just feels like an action movie and I think more so than any of the other movies. I think that’s the direction Paul is wanting this to go in anyway. It’s kind of cool.
The enthusiasm hasn’t seemed to wane over the last decade either.
Rodriguez: You know what I think it is? I think it’s that people love destroying mankind, for some strange reason. You make a movie about mankind’s destruction, you’re going to fill those seats. People just love the idea. For a couple thousand years now, we’ve been dreaming up how we’re all going to disappear and fade away from this planet, so (trails off)…
Why do you think that is?
Rodriguez: I think it’s because people have a love/hate relationship with being human on this planet. (laughs) I know I do- I know that’s why I love those kinds of movies.
We get the idea that Alice (or Milla) is jumping around the globe a bit on this movie. Without getting into too much detail, what is the throughline for “Bad Rain” here?
Rodriguez: I think for the most part she’s pretty much being controlled completely by the Umbrella Corporation and I feel like the epitome of her existence is to protect and serve. She’s very mechanical, very straight-forward and very matter-of-fact. There really isn’t any human kind of sensibility behind “Bad Rain.” She’s just a machine.
Rodriguez: Yeah, she just wants to take her down; that’s the order she was given.
We just saw you inject something into your neck onset-
Rodriguez: Yes! Las Plagas! That makes me super-human. Bullets? What are those? I eat bullets!
What’s your favorite power that happens from the injection?
Rodriguez: Eating bullets! I have always wanted to eat bullets. I always had this really cool idea ever since I was a kid of a human being that was able to control all the elements they’re made up of. For instance, we have minerals and stuff in our system and I always thought it would be cool to go into this deep state of meditation and be able to consolidate all the metal in your body and shoot through your fingers.
Can we talk about guns and your weapons training? Although you pretty much have a gun in every movie that you do, which is awesome.
Rodriguez: They’ve got the MP5 in this one and they’ve got these really awesome guns- they have them in Modern Warfare too but I forget the name of them right now. It’s a semi-automatic sub-machine gun but the magazine for it is on the top and you kind of flip it over to the side. They let us shoot that one which was pretty fun. They have the M4 and the M4 with a grenade launcher. They’ve also modified a lot of the guns to make them look pretty cool too that the boys get to shoot- a massive Magnum.
Rodriguez: I didn’t get a lot of gun training for this just because I kind of jumped into it last minute and everyone’s been incredibly busy with the massive fight sequences in this one. I just literally got drilled myself for the last four days with a massive fight sequence that has like 70 moves. I hope I remember those moves because I do them this week in fact. But you can definitely expect a lot of kicking, a lot of punching, a lot of swinging, a lot of throwing and a lot of wire work in this movie. And of course, Milla kicking ass and taking some names.
At this point in your career when you go into a movie where you’re using a lot of firearms, do you have to do gun training if they’re introducing something new? Or because you’ve had so much experience working with guns now (trails off)…
Rodriguez: I have a lot of experience firing weapons but I also suck at firing weapons. I’m a really bad aim; I’m much better at taking them apart and putting them back together. But yeah, I go to the range a lot myself, too just to goof off because I like to have fun. I already know my way around the grand majority of weapons so it’s nothing really that new.
Are you enjoying Modern Warfare 3?
Rodriguez: I LOVE that damn game. Jesus Christ, it’s so good. But I hear Battlefield 3 is better but I haven’t tried it yet.
Rodriguez: You get a lot more moves. You get a lot more action on this one, for sure. I think for the most part it’s because everyone is Cujo and superhuman, kind of, so you get to do all this cool shit and get away with it. In the grand majority of the action movies I do, they give me some action but I don’t usually get to have any of the real fun. Mostly the stunt doubles do all the cool stuff. I get the car, I get to hang out on top of the gas tanker at 20 MPH but my stunt double gets to do it at 40. She gets to have all the fun, I get to look like I did it.
Are there any other film projects coming up that you’re excited about?
Rodriguez: Yeah, pretty much Fast and Furious is what I’ve got my sights set on for the next year and if Resident Evil does well, maybe I’ll get to pop back in for the next one. Who knows- but the possibility is definitely there. And pretty much the same with Fast and Furious too. Basically, right now Hollywood is a giant factory of remakes because everyone is pussying out and they don’t want to try anything new. They’re scared, I guess and the money situation in the States isn’t so keen right now. The dollar is shit right now so I can understand why the studios are doing the guaranteed hit-off movies; I’m banking on that and I’m proud to be part of such great franchises that want me back.
When did you first hear that you were sort of an ‘easter egg’ in Fast Five?
Rodriguez: That’s been something that Vin’s been pushing for, for a while now and it was just a matter of time before they buckled. You know what I mean? (laughs) He was like “I want my girl back” so eventually [producer] Neal (H. Moritz) said “she’s a cool chick so let’s bring her back.” I was kind of surprised they buckled, but then again, with all the sequels you kind of run out of things to do. After a while, you’re like “let’s just bring some people back, why not?” (laughs).
Rodriguez: Yeah, I thought that was cool that they did that because it was like Ocean’s Eleven with an urban, street-cred twist. Putting Vin and The Rock together was what did that. Also, people grew up with The Rock and people have now grown up watching the different Fast and the Furious movies so it’s kind of part of teenage rebellion. The kids have all grown up now and it’s got a following, a really loyal following.
You said you were chasing Alice in this movie- is Jill your partner in crime as well?
Rodriguez: Actually, Jill is my boss. She’s basically the one who tells me what to do and I just do it, like a computer; I just register it and do it.
I heard you were doing a little DJing up here, is that something you enjoy doing?
Rodriguez: Yeah, pretty much because I can’t go to clubs and shitfaced anymore and I’m too old to be doing that so I have to be doing something while you’re partying and music sounds like fun. I don’t dance anymore like I used to.
What kind of music are you into?
Rodriguez: I love me some house music and hip-hop, classic rock; I love oldies too. I’m a big fan of 1940s and 50s jazz, soul, rhythm and blues- all that’s nice. I like mixing it with contemporary music too.
I know you mentioned before you were thinking of writing a screenplay-
Rodriguez: Working on all of that. I have a kids movie in the works too and these are all ideas I’ve had in my head ever since I was like 15 years old and I was like “I want to get into the business so I can write!” So then I became an actress and I got into trouble and grew up; then all the hard knocks knocked me down. Now, I’m a woman and time’s running out so I better get to it. So I’m buckling down and the first script that is going to be completed is called Sedated and it’s about drugs and the party world, which is something I know very well. (Laughs) It’s basically about this guy who sells drugs in gummy bear form. It’s a nice way to travel- you could ship it anywhere and not get into trouble. I hope I don’t give anybody any ideas. (Laughs) I have to package things to be able to sell them.
What about the story with the guy who can control all the elements inside him?
Rodriguez: That’s going to be far- that’s like how Jim Cameron took 10 years to do Avatar type of a thing. You’ve got to build up to that- prove you have skills because when you write something like that, you don’t want to hand it to just anybody. But definitely watching people like Paul, who’s like an overgrown kid, and people like Jim, making all these imaginary things come to life helps out a lot.
For more on Resident Evil: Retribution: