We’re used to seeing Michelle Rodriguez racing cars and firing guns, but there’s much more to this 33-year-old actress than meets the eye.
Famed for her roles in The Fast and the Furious movies, Lost and Avatar, Michelle’s about to start filming Machete Kills and is in talks with the producers of The Fast and the Furious 6, scheduled for release in 2013. For years Michelle has dominated female action hero roles, making her name with indie film Girlfight, but is now facing competition from bad girl wannabe Rihanna! RiRi stars in her new flick Battleship, out this May, and the movie’s director Peter Berg called her the next Michelle Rodriguez!
Romantically, Michelle was linked to Halle Berry’s new fiancé Olivier Martinez in 2005, her Fast and the Furious co-star Vin Diesel, and has faced scrutiny over her love life choices. Between 2002 and 2008 she also faced a lot of legal drama for assault, hit and run, speeding, and driving under the influence, but after several short prison stays and rehab, she has moved past all of this. She’s even talking kids!
Michelle’s latest hobby, DJing, brought her to the UAE last week and we caught up with her during her appearance for lifestyle brand Bougi at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace.
How do you like the UAE so far?
It’s been beautiful. It’s really nice and peaceful here. [The UAE is] intriguing to me. I visit as much as possible and try to learn as much as I can about the culture.
You’re always playing strong, bad girls. Are you like this in real life?
No, I’m a big teddy bear! But I definitely know what I want and I stand up for it, and I won’t have anything less. And I guess that makes me strong minded. A lot of people don’t understand [the other] side of me – the one that loves science and biology and is curious about the planet and why we’re here and how we got here.
Would you ever consider doing different genres of movies, like romantic comedies?
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be black or white. The only reason I’ve been playing that really strong masculine tough chick is because the writers in Hollywood aren’t creative enough to understand the balance between femininity and masculinity.
Eventually what’s gonna end up happening is I’m gonna end up writing my own stuff, and that’s what I’m getting into now.
So you’re moving away from that kind of bad girl character?
I think I’ve made my point about female independence in the industry, and now it’s time to move on. I want to exploit the balance between masculinity and femininity, not just this tomboyish stuff that I’ve been doing.
I see the beautiful evolution of [film] – in things like The Hunger Games, or Wanted, or Salt, or amazing projects like Hanna. I can put away my guns now – there’s really no need to fight anymore.
The door’s open, and you know why the door’s open? Because the geek is taking over the position of the alpha male who used to dominate in Nineties action films!
There’s more room for women to do their thing and not be attacked for it. I like this evolution. Besides, I’m getting older and the biological clock is ticking!
So you’re ready to have kids?
Oh, of course. But with the projection of 2040 – nine billion people on the planet – it does make me think if I should adopt or not as opposed to having my own. Then there’s that selfish kind of thing like I want to see what would happen if I produced something of my own, not that I’d love it any differently.
The potential’s there, so it’s definitely in my thoughts this year.
You’ve worked with some pretty hunky men like Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Have there ever been any behind the scenes romances?
No, no, no. I’m pretty boring in that way. I’m more like the girl that they talk about other girls to, sadly enough. I’m like one of the guys. I’m Vin’s daughter’s godmother. He’s been one of my best friends for the last 10 years. I love him like a brother.
What do you think of Rihanna trying to do the bad girl thing in Battleship?
I mean, that’s kinda cool, whatever floats your boat. Do I buy that she would kick a** and take names in a battleship? Maybe not so much. But if she was captured would the captain protect her? Yeah, there’s a different kind of power, she’s got Cleopatra power!
Are you dating at the moment?
Are you enjoying being single?
Yeah, I am. There’s something really liberating about it.
Is it true that you were dating Olivier Martinez a few years ago?
Come on, you can tell us... he’s gorgeous!
He is! And he’s one of my best friends! And right now he’s about to get married to Halle Berry and I wish them the best. He looks really happy and he seems to get along really great with her kids and I think they both deserve the best.
You’ve been voted for in lots of polls such as Maxim’s 100 sexiest women, how do you feel about this?
It’s kind of weird. Every time they offer me a cover, I feel bad saying no because it’s just not my thing. I don’t really like those magazines and I try to stay out of them as much as possible, but I’m actually pleased that I’m chosen cos I feel like I’ve never really exploited [that] side of me.
You DJ’d at Cirque Du Soir in Dubai and Etoiles in Adu Dhabi – another talent we didn’t realise you had! How did you get into DJing?
I only got into it about three years ago. I do it to enjoy partying and not get in trouble [laughs]. I’m eclectic with the music choices – I’ll go everywhere from Iggy Pop to old school punk to house music and then break into a Forties track by Eartha Kitt. I catch people off guard!