With J.J. Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness opening soon around the world, we recently landed an exclusive phone interview with Zoe Saldana. During the interview, she talked about making the sequel, how nice it is to finally be able to talk about it, whether Klingon or Na’vi is more difficult to master, filming the bridge scenes first, who the biggest joker on set is and who tries hardest to make the cast break on camera, script changes, and so much more. We also talked about Nina, Out of the Furnace, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more. Hit the jump for what she had to say.
Star Trek Into Darkness also stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, and Alice Eve. The film opens in IMAX 3D on May 15th and in 2D and 3D on May 17th.
ZOE SALDANA: I’m enjoying it a lot. Sometimes my body gets a little tired but my mind feels very resilient because this was a movie that I was so happy to be coming back to do and playing the role of Uhura again. And also working with J.J. and the cast and half of the crew. We really had a great time because the script blew our minds.
I agree with you, I think the film is fantastic. Is it nice to finally be able to talk about the sequel, now that it’s been made? Because I know for the last few years that’s all people would ask you.
SALDANA: Yeah. It feels really, really great. We were doing publicity for the first movie, we briefly talked about it when we were in one of those cities doing promotions. And it was just like, “Guys, if we have the opportunity to come back where would you want the story to go? What would you want your character to be doing?” And obviously the conversation was initiated by J.J. and Damon, and Alex and Bob, and none of us had suggestions. Then years later, we’re able to come back for a second installment and it felt that the boys…the team…had heard everything we said.
Which is more difficult to master Klingon or Na’vi?
SALDANA: Klingon was a little more difficult, I have to say. Even though I had more dialogue in Na’vi as I spoke Na’vi throughout, my character only speaks Na’vi and speaks English with a Na’vi accent. It was still much more difficult to learn Klingon.
SALDANA: We definitely needed to always stay in sync, that way we captured the right tonality and that it was all throughout on the same level. Also, there were minor changes constantly happening with the story. Either because the actors would have a suggestion or J.J. and his team would realize that after shooting a scene, it went in different directions. So all the scenes that we were doing on the bridge were very delicate because they were setting a reactive tone.
Who is the biggest joker on set and who tries to make someone break the most on camera?
SALDANA: The biggest joker – it’s a battle between Simon and John Cho. The person that likes to fuck with you the most in terms of when it’s your closeup and they’re trying to make you break character – for me at least – was Zach.
I can imagine that.
SALDANA: Yeah, because he and I have scenes together.
From when you first got the script to what we see on screen, how much changed along the way? I know you said that there was a lot of little changes on set but were there any dramatic changes or was it pretty much minor tweaks of scenes that you read?
SALDANA: It was minor tweaks of scenes that were already there. One thing is to imagine something the way that it would happen, another thing is to be in it and act it out. So once you act out something, it’s nearly impossible to be in a movie where the script isn’t being tweaked while you’re shooting. Because, there’s one writer at the very least, writing the story and writing the arcs of all these characters. Another thing is once the actors come on set and they bring these lines to life sometimes the emotional beat were not the right ones that the writer chose and they go in a different direction. Therefore, you have to adjust minutely as the story unfolds.
I really want to talk to you about Out of the Furnace. Can you talk a little bit about when people are going to finally see footage from the movie? Will it premiere at TIFF? Do you know anything about it?
SALDANA: It’s coming out in the fall at the Toronto Film Festival, I believe. I was a very intense movie to do but it was a wonderful experience to have worked with Scott Cooper and the cast – from Christian (Bale) to Forest Whitaker, to Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard. And then obviously, going off and naming the crew, it was just phenomenal. This film provided not an once of levity but that’s because of the reality and the depiction was such an actual depiction, that you get a sense that they’re people going through this, living like this. There’s so much compassion that you find yourself having in your heart that you deal with the subject and every day on the shoot you carry yourself with respect and empathy and you’re very sensitive.
SALDANA: I know that Cynthia Mort, our director, is still editing it and she’s taking her time as she should. This film is the kind of film that needs time. We shot it and it was a very intense experience, very beautiful, and I’m very happy and proud I was a part of it. Now she’s putting it together and then I have to go back to the studio and put all the songs together as well.
There’s still a decent amount of work in front of you on that one.
SALDANA: Oh, yeah.
I need to ask you about a certain Marvel franchise that you recently signed on for. With the world-wide box office – I guess Iron Man 3 is up to almost 700 million after two weeks – does that make you even more excited to begin production on Guardians?
SALDANA: It makes me excited that I’m going to be a part of something, a world that’s going to challenge me – I mean, I’m going to get to play green, I’ve been a blue one, so might as well be green. I really like the director, James Gunn, I responded very, very well to the script. I loved the casting decisions they’ve been making so far. I can only hope we kick ass and we have a great time while we’re putting the film together. And that the result of that, the audience will respond very positively to it and hopefully we’ll be able to make just as much as Iron Man is making right now.
When you get involved with Marvel, or even Star Trek or Avatar, they make you sign these multi-picture deals. What is it like for you to be involved with now what might be three franchises?
SALDANA: I haven’t thought about it that way, up until this tour actually, when it was brought to my attention. I read scripts and if I respond well to the story and especially to the character that they want me to consider or that I’m going after, that’s what I do. And then, all of a sudden I stop, and I go back and go, “Oh my God! These three things have so much in common,” and then I just keep going. It’s not something that I’m strategically looking after or that I’m finding because I’m avoiding other things. It just so happens that I’m in a frenzy, I’ve been in the last couple of years in action frenzy and I guess I gravitate a lot towards these kinds of characters that are very physically active.