How Zoe Saldana Transforms Into Gamora
Zoe Saldana's Star Turn
There are two types of women in this world: the type who played with dolls when they were little and the type who didn't. Then there's Zoë Saldana. "Growing up, my dolls were doctors and on secret missions," the actress says with a laugh. "I had Barbie Goes Rambo."
Make that Zoë Goes Trekkie. For the big-screen reboot ofStar Trek, out this month, she takes on the role of the intergalactically gorgeous Uhura, a character so beloved it's been immortalized as a Mattel action figure. And another doll may soon be hitting the shelves, this one based on her character as an ass-whooping alien in the James Cameron thrillerAvatar(due out in December). "It's weird," the 30-year-old says of her mini-me. "But it's also pretty awesome."
As is Zoë. For this afternoon's interview, Zoë arrives at Gordon "Hell's Kitchen" Ramsay's eponymous West Hollywood restaurant looking decidedly more Manhattan than Malibu, wearing a long cardigan and snug skinny jeans tucked into sexy black stiletto boots. "I don't like things like little sandals that look fragile," she says. "I like to look strong and commanding."
Straddling Two Worlds
Maybe that's why she was game to take on outer space aboard the U.S.S.Enterprisewith a mostly male crew. "I'm more of a guy's girl. I like having a beer in a bar, and I don't bicker or sit down and do my nails," she says. "But I have two sisters and a mother, and we're Latin, so we gossip."
Zoë spent most of her early childhood in Queens, New York, but her mother sent her to live with relatives in the Dominican Republic when she was 10, following the sudden death of her father. "My mom was scared of losing us to the streets," she says. "[But moving] made me stronger, because it takes a lot of courage to start over, especially when you're a kid." In the Caribbean, she attended private school, studied ballet, and came to appreciate the advantages of island life. "It was beautiful," Zoë says. "You could grab your surfboard and run to the beach in 15 minutes."
At age 17, Zoë moved back to the States and began studying acting in New York (a place she refers to as "my little diamond"). She landed her first big role, as a ballerina, in the 2000 movieCenter Stage, and just three years later found herself on the big screen alongside Johnny Depp inPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
"He is the shyest person I've ever met," she says of the actor. "The moment the camera is [turned] on, these characters that are within him come out and take control. Then when the director yells, 'Cut!' he goes back to being quiet. Very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Next cameGuess Who, opposite Ashton Kutcher, and Steven Spielberg'sThe Terminal. Coincidentally, Zoë's character on that film was a Trek fan, and Spielberg taught her the Vulcan salute. "Trekkies are everywhere!" she says.
With her career going full blast, it may be hard to believe she has much time for exercise, but Zoë has found a way to fit it in, with a workout schedule that includes Pilates three times a week ("It's the closest thing to dance," she says). But that's not to say she loves every second of it. "I get bored really easily. If I didn't have a trainer to push me, I'd go walk for about 15 minutes," she says, groaning. "But I love feeling in tune with my body and eating right." Her one rule: no deprivation or crash diets. "Sometimes I pig out on pasta, but that's OK," she says, staring lovingly at the lobster ravioli on her plate. "The next day, I just eat healthy."
That practical attitude extends to aging too. Zoë embraced the big 3-0 by throwing herself a massive dinner party at her home, which she shares with her longtime boyfriend, actor Keith Britton, and their loveable pit bull-pointer mutt, Calvin—full name Calvin Allen Britton ("just so beautiful, but trust me, he has no class," she says). Ask Zoë about stepping into her third decade and she says, "I'm very accepting with my age. It's like notches on your belt: experience, wisdom, and a different kind of beauty. There comes a day when you've become comfortable in your skin. But God as my witness, I am going to try to do everything I can to keep this ass together for as long as I possibly can—without going against nature."
On The Move
With her lifestyle, that shouldn't be too hard. This is a woman who relishes a fast pace. "I have a hyper personality ," Zoë says. "I don't draw myself a bath with candles—I don't get it. [I feel the same way about] camping: You pack for five frickin' hours to go to the woods and sit by a fire? We could do that in my backyard!" Still, she admits, "I'm learning the power of going away for the weekend and keeping myself company. Sometimes, I'll drive to the airport, and four hours later I'm in Mexico. [I relax] for two days, then call everybody to say, 'Yo, this is amazing! Please come!'"
Her ideal Sunday afternoon: hitting a movie theater for three films in a row. Friday night might be dinner with friends and a few bottles of wine. "I wouldn't want to change anything in my life," she says. "Am I happy? Happiness is nothing but temporary moments here and there—and I love those. But I would be bored out of my mind if I were happy all the time."
Zoe's Beauty Booty
“I love Laura Mercier foundations. They have this Secret Camouflage that I actually can use on my whole face. I have yellow and olive undertones.”
“I love that peach blush and bronzer duo by Lorac because you can combine them and they give you that little glow.”
“For mascara, Shu Uemura is so subtle for day. You can apply it really fine. But for nighttime, I like the Maybelline in the pink tube. It’s amazing. You put it on and va-va-voom.”
“I like Cetaphil moisturizer. It doesn’t smell like any fragrance. You can buy it in any pharmacy anywhere in the world.”
“I was a big fan of lip plumpers.
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