Tough yet sexy, Michelle Rodriguez is a feisty latina with superstar appeal. Few actresses today can compare to her, with a unique blending of brains, toughness and beauty. Because of these qualities producers have been lining up to sign her onto films in varying roles and overtime Michelle is sure to outgrow the tough girl image and simply be known as the fantastic actress she is. As legend has it, when director Karyn Kusama was casting the lead for her directorial debut, Girlfight, she wanted to find a young woman who would radiate the powerful, surly charisma of the young Marlon Brando. Her search for an actor with this enviable but elusive quality ended when Michelle Rodriguez, a 20-year-old Latina whose previous experience was limited to work as an extra, answered an ad in Backstage magazine that Kusama had posted. Cast as Diana Guzman, the fierce and vibrant protagonist of Kusama's story of a high school girl who takes up boxing, Rodriguez went on to earn almost universal acclaim for her powerful portrayal, winning the admiration of audiences and critics from Sundance to Toronto. Of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, Rodriguez was born in Bell County, TX, on July 12, 1978. She moved around throughout her childhood and adolescence, living for a time in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Jersey City, NJ. It was while she was working as an extra in various film productions that she answered Kusama's ad for actors; after being cast as Girlfight's protagonist, she trained intensively to condition her body like that of a boxer to such a degree that, at one point, she was even asked to go pro. Her dedication to the physical and emotional demands of her character paid off lavishly, when Girlfight premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival it received the Grand Jury Prize, with Rodriguez's performance singled out as one of the most exciting breakthroughs in years; among the many kudos she subsequently received was the National Board of Review's prize for Best Breakthrough Performance.
Rodriguez's status as one of the year's New Hot Young Thangs on the Block was duly reflected by the attention she was subsequently paid in both the media and Hollywood. In the following year, her projects included Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious, an urban adrenaline extravaganza in which she played the tough girlfriend of a gang leader alongside Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordanna Brewster, and 3 A.M., a made-for-cable drama which cast her as a taxi driver and was screened at the Sundance Festival.
Striving to maintain the balance between sexy and tough, Rodriguez would take on zombies in Resident Evil (2002) before hitting the waves in Blue Crush. Though neither film proved a bona fide box-office smash, they did offer the up and coming actress the exposure needed to develop an enduring career. Rodriguez could next be seen opposite Colin Farrell in the hard-hitting action thriller S.W.A.T.
Mishelle Marie Rodriguez was born July 12, 1978 in Bexar County, Texas, USA.
More fun stuff about Michelle Rodriguez
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Was raised in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and in Jersey City.
Is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.
She beat out 350 other girls for the role of Diana Guzman in Girlfight (2000).
Girlfight (2000) was her first acting audition, and she got the role. The Fast and the Furious (2001) was her second audition, and she also got that role.
Is an avid in-line skater.
Didn't have a driver's license before filming The Fast and the Furious (2001) and had to obtain one during her training for the car chase sequences.
Plays the piano.
Has two half-sisters on her father's side.
Has two older twin brothers named Raul and Oscar
Dropped out of high school at 17, but she went back and graduated via an equivalency diploma.
Ranked #77 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World" (2002)
Lent her voice for 3 video games, True Crimes Street of LA, Driv3r and Halo2.
Her personal quotes:
"I think empathy is a beautiful thing. I think that's the power of film though. We have one of the most powerful, one of the greatest communicative tools known to man. It's a form of communication and it's gonna reach you in a way of growth- most of the time."
"I don't want people thinking of me sexually. I don't want people to be like, 'She's hot-looking,' you know? I want them to listen to me for what I am saying. And I think the best way to do that is to sniff my armpits, and like, sit and burp every now and then. It just completely throws people off. I had a couple of offers to do some hot scenes in the shower with some guy and to make it real hot and sexy. The next thing you know, I'd be the next J.Lo or something. But that's easy. I want [success] the hard way."
"My favorite part of my body is my brain. I think no matter what my body looks like I wont be satisfied unless I know how to use it."
"I dont think it's narcissistic at all to love yourself and believe in yourself. I think some people are really scared to do that. I have to. If I don't, I would not succed in what I do."
"No matter what, people are so narrow minded that it won't ever be Michelle Rodriguez the actress, it will always be Michelle Rodriguez the Latin actress. And it's just something that I have to live with, because of the fact that people need labels to understand things. I can't even get into this ignorance that I'm dealing with. So I just ignore it, you know? Ignore the ignorance."
Where are they now
(August 2003) Filming her upcoming movie Control (2004).
Michelle Rodriguez spoke to M&C about her role in the upcoming BloodRayne movie.
M&C: Can you tell us a bit about your role in Blood Rayne?
MR: My role in Blood Rayne is a very sneaky one. It’s a character, developed and worked on by Uwe and myself. And it is a role where you never really know what is going on till the end of the film. I don’t want to give it away so … . I basically say that she is a vampire killer. And eventually you see things, crazy things, lots of blood. *laughs*
M&C: What prompted you to work with Uwe Boll?
MR: Blood, seventeen hundreds, eye contacts. It’s fun because the majority of the time I really don’t get to go, to push the limits, and when I spoke to Uwe over the phone he convinced me by letting me know that it is not going to be a typical videogame movie. And I think that basically influenced me. A long side of the great cast, influenced me to be a part of it too. I wanted to do something that seems to be a lot more glory than usual, a lot more edgy…. Push the envelope and that’s what Uwe told that he wanted to do over the phone. So he convinced me right there and then. I was hooked.
M&C: Is there another genre that you would like to get into...maybe comedy etc. ?
MR: Oh yeah, for sure… I definitely want to get into comedy. Right now I like horror though. It’s fun… see, I figure I get all the fun staff out while I’m young and then as I get older I get into the sex and the comedy. The fluffy stuff. Right now it’s just kids and horror and strong characters, pg 13… No sex.
M&C: How did you prepare for Girlfight?
MR: 4 ½ months of boxing training – I gained about a good 25 pounds of muscles. It was a fun experience and it was the hardest work that I’ve ever had in my life. Nowadays you sign on to movies so fast so soon that you don’t have time to train and prepare yourself the way I did for Girlfight. Also I was the lead in that movie, you see me in every scene so I had to take those 4 months to prepare and learn how to fight. That was fun. So that kind of prompted all the action movies I’ve done after. You know I look at regular movies and I’m like: This is boring. What are you talking about? I read the scripts and I’m like … too boring for being young.
M&C: Did your role in Girlfight change your perception of boxing?
MR: For sure. I have a lot more respect for the sport because people literally they get pounded on people and that would bring neurotic diseases afterwards. You have to have a lot of respect for this people. It’s a ballet but at the same time it’s a barbaric ballet where you take a pounding. And I respect anybody from stunt doubles in action films to people who are part of the X-games who risk their lives jumping out of planes or hopping off of horses… I mean that stuff you have to respect – putting your life on a line. It’s cool.
M&C: Who would win in a fight between you and Kristanna Loken?
That girl is big. I’m not messing with her. If anything I probably...
Uwe Boll: But you are better in boxing?!
MR: Yeah, I might be I don’t know how she boxes… I probably sneak attack her. I definitely wouldn’t want her to see me coming. She’s big. I would use my brain for that one.
M&C: Do you feel your roles have seen you typecast in any way?
MR: Of course. all the time. That’s the beauty of being an actor. You have to prove yourself. Since the time I did Girlfight till now you see it’s a lot different. I was much more masculine looking. I’ve softened up a little bit. Slowly. I’m like a snail when I work you know. I like to evolve as time goes by.
So yeah, you always get type cast. They are always thinking you’re as good as your last movie. That’s why you have to walk in there and sit down with the director and prove that you can be somebody else that they haven’t yet seen on screen.
Michelle Rodriguez Talks About "S.W.A.T." and Colin Farrell
Michelle Rodriguez appeared very passionate about her support for "S.W.A.T." co-star Colin Farrell while at the Premiere of the CIA thriller, "The Recruit." Prior to seeing "The Recruit," Rodriguez spoke about working with Colin Farrell and her own desire to be a CIA agent:
MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ ('Chris Sanchez' in "S.W.A.T.")
What's your role in S.W.A.T.?
I basically play one of the crew - the only female S.W.A.T. member in the United States of America.
Did you do a lot of training to prepare for the role?
I basically trained with a couple of S.W.A.T. members for a hot minute.
And your character works with Colin Farrell's character?
What was it like working with Colin?
He's cool, man. It's all about being cool. I'm here tonight [at "The Recruit" Premiere] supporting Colin. I am looking forward to seeing my buddy Colin represent in front of Pacino. That's sweet.
Any funny stories about working with Colin Farrell?
I'll keep that all to myself (laughing).
Are you ever going to play anything other than a tough girl? I asked you this at the “Blue Crush” premiere and you said yes.
(Laughing) Maybe in my sexually frustrated 30s.
In keeping with "The Recruit's" CIA theme, have you ever wanted to be a part of the CIA?
At one time in my life. When I was about, I'd say, 18 or 19 years-old, I wanted to be a part of the CIA just because they know those intimate secrets about 'you're being watched' kind of deal. So I was just always into knowing. I like to know thing.
Michelle Rodriquez: Resident Evil
Michelle Rodriguez first proved her mettle in American indie pic "Girlfight", going on to play with the boys in "The Fast and the Furious". Now she's fighting an army of zombies alongside Milla Jovovich in Paul Anderson's "Resident Evil"...
Did you enjoy adapting a video game?
What are you, nuts? Hell, no! To make a video game come to life was definitely a childhood fetish of mine. I have to admit there's not much substance there but it was fun. The director Paul Anderson is like an adult trapped in a child's body. He knows what he's doing. We made the film with such little money. He got some guys from London to pull off the special effects and create these creatures. I wasn't running from some guy in a blue suit. These were, like, real zombies! As gritty as they get. Black stuff in their mouth. Pus coming out of their face, eye contacts with pus in them, people with bad breath! It was very real.
Do you enjoy making films with lots of special effects?
I was like a little girl wanting to learn from Daddy, just asking questions about the special effects. It's pretty intriguing what you learn. Twelve minutes of three-dimensional footage cost so much money. Like, $60 million. Your imagination runs wild. You have all these possibilities. You can do anything with film and make anything come to life. With an imagination like mine, you can get to people in so many ways - you can entertain them and educate them in the same note. But it's very expensive to entertain them!
Have you played the game before?
Oh, of course, I wouldn't have been in the movie if I didn't. I mean, why else would I be attracted to it? I kick butt. It's a good game. It has a Hitchcock-ish feel to it. If it's anything like the video game, you guys are in for something good.
Actress Rodriguez Lands Morgue Job Instead of Jail
S.W.A.T star Michelle Rodriguez has been sentenced to serve community service at a morgue, after being convicted of driving offenses. Rodriguez was involved in a hit-and-run accident last year. Four months later she was caught speeding, found to be driving under the influence of alcohol and hit with eight traffic offenses. Now, rather than spend a long time behind bars, the actress has agreed to plead guilty to three of the charges against her in exchange for spending 48 hours in jail and doing community service in the morgue of two New York hospitals. Rodriguez has also been instructed to undertake a three-month alcohol program.
Racy Rodriguez Faces Driving Charges
Actress Michelle Rodriguez faces eight misdemeanor charges after she was caught driving fast and furiously twice on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Blue Crush star originally got into trouble for leaving the scene of an accident in July after she ran into another motorist. And then she was pulled over by police on the same stretch of road earlier this month after she was caught speeding. Police discovered that the actress' driving privilege was suspended at the time and she was under the influence of alcohol. Rodriguez is due in a Los Angeles court to answer the charges in late December.
Michelle Rodriguez Snubs Sexy Roles
The Fast & The Furious star Michelle Rodriguez is turning down sexy roles - because she hates being an object of lust. The tough-talking Latino movie star is urging movie makers to stop sending her scripts which feature her in the shower or having sex - because she has no intention of showing off her shapely body. She says, "I had a couple of offers to do some hot scenes in the shower with some guy, and to make it real hot and sexy. The next thing you know, I'd be the next J.LO or something! I want success the hard way. I don't want people thinking of me sexually. I don't want people to be like, 'God, she's hot looking. Look at her in that shirt with her t**s showing.'"
Diesel Puts His Foot Down For Romance
Love was in the air on the set of the The Fast And The Furious. Co-stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez did not have to act too much to play lovers in the hit drag-race movie. The rough-and-tumble couple fell for each other on the set, and their relationship heated up in recent weeks. Rodriguez, who shot to It Girl status as the star of Girlfight, was canoodling Diesel at Float on Thursday night. The next morning, she told shock jock radio host Howard Stern that Diesel "will be a part of my life for a very long time."
'Girlfight''s Michelle Rodriguez
She pulls no punches. Even before the interview begins, Michelle Rodriguez is flashing the attitude that separates her from the 350 other women who auditioned for "Girlfight" and got knocked out of contention. She casts a critical eye at the poster promoting the Screen Gems release, which depicts her kissing co-star Santiago Douglas.
"This is not a love story," she snaps. " It's a hard-ass boxing movie."
It's that sort of talk that makes it clear the 22-year-old Rodriguez is not your typical Hollywood star.
"Girlfight" marks the feature debut of the actress, whose experience had been limited to a few brief appearances in a handful of films, including 1999's "Summer of Sam" and "Cradle Will Rock."
Director Karyn Kusama says she saw something more when she met Rodriguez, who'd answered an ad seeking actors for an independent film. She recognized Rodriguez as "someone who burns up the screen -- who holds the screen by sheer presence" Kusama says.
She cast her in the role of Diana Guzman, a street fighter who takes her anger into the boxing ring. She matures as a boxer and develops the discipline, self-esteem and passion that make her a better person.
In January, the low-budget feature tied for the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, where Kusama was honored with the best directing award. Rodriguez, who also attended the festival in Park City, Utah, began making a name for herself, too.
Her friends and family, Rodriguez told CNN in a festival interview, warned her away from the film.
"You're gonna get whacked and your teeth are gonna fall off," she recalled one friend telling her. "You're a chick."
Her brother was hardly any more encouraging. "You're gonna look like some butch up there," she said, quoting her sibling. "You know --fighting and stuff."
But Rodriguez, a New Jersey resident who spent her childhood in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Texas, is looking more like a diamond in the rough now. The Independent Feature Project, an organization celebrating independent filmmaking, honored her earlier this month with its breakthrough actor award. She's also been cast in two future films.
Now, as "Girlfight" is set to open in limited release, this unlikely star talks again to CNN about life in the ring and in the spotlight.
CNN: Tell us about the casting process and how you managed to come out of nowhere to land this role.
Michelle Rodriguez: Basically I was doing extra work for about a year before that, and I was about to quit because it became monotonous and I wasn't growing out of it. So, I decided to look through Backstage (magazine) and go on my first audition.
"They call it a cattle call, where a bunch of people are told to go and try out for this movie, (and) basically you're just standing there giving your name. ... And I guess my pessimistic little PMS attitude paid off.
CNN: Tell us about the physical challenges that you had to endure going through this role.
Rodriguez: Hard core - 4 ½ months of intense training at Gleason's gym in Brooklyn. … It was intense -- just imagine waking up every morning, running for 2 ½ miles, then after that (you) jump rope for a half hour, then after that you're moving around in the ring.
You get out, you hit the speed bag ... and you spar, and then after that, you're doing calisthenics. While you're doing the sit-ups you've got this 20-pound sand ball thrown on your stomach.
What else? I would lift weights, drink proteins. Right now you're seeing me at my skinniest. I've never really been this skinny.
CNN: Is it true that you were good enough that they wanted you to go pro?
CNN: Were you surprised that you were that good?
Rodriguez: I didn't think, "I can beat anybody out." No, I wasn't like that! I guess I just put my mind to it ... and when you do, it's like you have no fear. Or you use fear to your advantage, and it just empowers you even more. So I guess that's what they liked about me -- just the fact that I would get smacked up and go right back in (saying), "Yeah, I want more 'til I at least hit you once, for Christ's sake."
CNN: It added to the authenticity of your role, not being afraid to get your face smacked?
Rodriguez: Oh, I wasn't scared.
CNN: What's been going on with you since Sundance, both in terms of the movie and your acting career in general?
Rodriguez: I think a lot of doors have opened for me. I really enjoyed that festival. I think it was a great experience for me to learn from. I mean, it (the festival) has turned into middle-class Hollywood, and it's not all about nuanced performances and not all about new directors anymore; it's kind of like a meat market. But in the end … I'm very thankful it was there.
CNN: What kinds of doors did it open for you in terms of roles?
Rodriguez: I think it just opened up a lot more options and interest. … We got a studio (distributor Screen Gems) and that ... publicity created a lot of awareness about me as a person.
CNN: Was it odd seeing yourself on the screen?
Rodriguez: I think it's odd for anybody to see themselves on screen. You're "volumized" by -- what? I think it's 10 times. You're watching this big giant screen ... and you're just staring at this big face that you've stared at all your life … But it's kind of scary because ... I'm not used to that.
Rodriguez: Do feel like you have to work harder, to pump people up to get them to see this movie?
Rodriguez: I have no expectations whatsoever. I'm not saying, "Oh yeah, you know, we've reached a lot of people." What you might see as far as marketing might not be what you see (in) the movie…
Right now, everything is just like gravy on a bunch of potatoes, or like icing on the cake, because I didn't think we'd reach this far.