From the quiet ache of “From Scratch” to the colossal appeal of “Avatar,” Zoe Saldana‘s star is shining brighter than ever. For the cover of InStyle’s latest digital issue, the notoriously private actress discusses the highly-anticipated new Avatar installment, raising her kids (who now recognize her from “Guardians of the Galaxy”), finding her true self in fantasy and the future, and more.
On Avatar‘s impact then and now: “I had no idea Avatar was going to have the impact that it did on such a global scale,” she says of the 2009 film, the awe in her words evident, even with over a decade to let the facts settle. “Those things are unimaginable.” “I had so much hope that it was going to be well-received, because it just felt so special to me.” “This conversation around the environment has become a global social dilemma,” she says. “And what I admire the most is that the younger generations are the ones that are guiding this narrative.”
On being a woman of color in her industry: “Maybe because I’m a woman of color, you can’t look back into your history and not feel a level of sadness. It’s just history. It’s what happened. I was always more charmed by the prospects of the future and what that would represent,” she says of her explorations on the USS Enterprise and time as Avatar’s Neytiri. “I get to imagine something that is completely unimaginable. It just made me feel more free, that I can try new things and not be judged for it because you can’t compare to anything. I always felt that science fiction gave me that freedom — that sense of escapism — and a sense of comfort.”
On her kids realizing that she’s a bona fide guardian of the galaxy: “I see how he’s trying to place me in his mind like, ‘OK, you’re mama, but you’re also Gamora,'” she says of her youngest. “They’re going to watch these movies, and it’s going to be a part of what they like and what excites them. And the fact that that gives me street cred with my kids, it’s fun, it’s great.” “They are going to grow up to be really pretty nerds. I know that every parent finds their children super-handsome. Maybe that’s what’s to blame. But I look at my kids and I’m like, ‘My god, you guys are so fucking handsome.'”
On being drawn to imperfections and missteps: “I’ve always felt very insecure around people that are just too cool and that have themselves so put together and know exactly what to say and know everything. I’ve always felt very unstable around people like that,” she says. “I like to be around people that are naturally curious and honest about the curiosity. And when they don’t know something, I like when they say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ My kids are like that; they feel so present.”
On her action movie role models: “I love action movies. When I was a kid, that’s what I was watching, not princess things. My idol was Ellen Ripley [Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien] and Sarah Connor [played by Linda Hamilton],” she says, which may explain the lack of rom-coms on her résumé and her penchant for pushing toward the final frontier. “I join projects because I believe in the people behind them. When they’re magical and thoughtful, thought-provoking, and collaborative, that’s what changes my life for the better,” she says. “It gives me experiences that raise me, that help me grow, that make me feel good about people.”
[Photo Credit: JD Barnes/InStyle Magazine]
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