[Originally published in DTM Magazine Issue #57; April 2009]
By: Limay Gonzalez
She has made mistakes, but so has almost everyone in Hollywood. But time has taken care of putting things where they belong and what we have now is a young woman with her feet well grounded. She’s just as normal as anyone her age. There’s not a trace of her troubled days, Michelle Rodriguez welcomes us with a smile, crosses her arms with grace and talks slowly. “I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I believe that’s the most important things,” she says. “I’m a mature woman that can and must take control of her life. I can no longer give myself the luxury of repeating mistakes.”
The actress returns to the big screen with the fourth installment of the film “The Fast and the Furious,” which debuts on April 3. “This is a film that I particularly like: a story that never goes out of style and that is full of adrenaline; people like it a lot and it’s because the story combines many elements that without a doubt make it into a good movie. I like the action and reuniting with all the actors was super fun.”
Her strong presence was what first helped open the doors to “Fast & Furious.” The movie turned out to be a blockbuster, and it catapulted Rodriguez in the difficult world of Hollywood. Rodriguez plays the role of Letty in the movie from Universal Picture that will reunite all the main characters from the original film directed by Rob Cohen in 2001. The cast for this new adventure on the streets of Los Angeles includes Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster who were also in the first movie.
The desire to act has always been present in her life. Rodriguez was born in Bexar County, Texas and lived part of her childhood between the Dominican republic and Puerto rico. Her big break came thanks to the independent short film “Girlfight.” Michelle landed the role of Diana Guzman after beating some 350 girls that auditioned for the part, placing her as the producer’s favorite. With that film, the actress showed that she was here to stay. From that moment on, offers didn’t stop coming, making her into a big screen star.
“When I look back, I think everything went too fast. Things happened without noticing, and I feel happy that everything happened that way, makes me feel fortunate. After “Girlfight,” came “Fast & Furious” and that represented a great opportunity for me because it opened many doors. That is why I hold a very special feeling for this film,” she adds.
Not everything is peaches and roses in Rodriguez’s life. That fame has brought this Latina (through her veins runs Dominican and Boricua blood) as much happiness as it has problems. “People many times just talk and crucify me as though they know me. The things they see are just one part of me, a fragment of my life, not the complete picture.” But it seems as though the most dramatic episodes have been left behind and the pictures in which she appears entering jail or picking up garbage are things of the past.
The controversies in which she has been involved are just past experiences. Michelle says her life is less tense and that she is more relaxed. “I’m living a very precious moment in my life professionally,” she says. “I’m working in very interesting projects, and I feel very proud that I have been included in them, that they value my work. Personally, I have been growing, I’m full of energy and with many expectations.”
At the end of this year, she will appear again on the big screen, this time in “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron, filmed in 3D and made with a budget of $250 million. “This is a super production that has me very happy,” she says. “I’m very happy to be part of this project, I respect and admire a lot the work of James Cameron,” she adds about the film that will open in theaters December 18.
Even though in October of 2007 few would have beat on her, after a judge ordered the actress to complete her sentence for having violated probation in a judicial case for abandoning a crime scene whild driving under the influence of alchohol, Michelle reemerged like a phoenix. And so has been her transformation that the actress has created “Tropico de Sangre” (Tropic of Blood), a film in which Michelle participates as an actress and producer. Michelle doesn’t stop looking for new opportunites and for that, and much more, she is focused in other stories in which she will participate as producer and writer.
“Production work is a bit complicated, but something very interesting that allows for broadening your horizons. To bring to the big screen ‘Tropic de Sangre’ is very special to me. It recreates the story of the three Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, that became heroines after being assassinated during the dictarorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.”
Michelle tells us the story came into her possession in a very peculiar way, a friend showed it to her, recommend she followed her intuition and to get working on it, shaping the film. “ I read the script and felt a good connection with the story, its also a story that puts me in direct contact with Dominican culture and I liked that a lot. I got excited and as I read and began to shape things I fell more in love with the script,” she comments.
Michelle will play the role of Minerva, a character that not long ago was played by Salma Hayek in the film “En El Tiempo de las Mariposas,” putting herself in the shoes of this heroine poses a challenge for the actress:
“To play Minerva is a test as a person, as an actress, as a responsible adult. Minerva was a strong woman that wouldn’t give in, a woman that kept herself loyal to her principles, morals and what she believed.”