by Caroline Frost
If Michelle Rodriguez is a little bemused that – in the decade since her debut in the first of the Fast and Furious films – her character (Letty Ortiz) has been killed off in the fourth installment, enigmatically referred to in the closing scenes of the fifth and now properly reintroduced for number six, she at least knows who to blame for the change in Letty’s fortunes.
“The thing is that when Vin gets something in his mind, it’s like it’s been manifest already, with his ability to convince people,” she explains, of co-star Mr. Diesel’s power to persuade AND be persuaded by his huge army of social following fans (39 million at the last count on his Facebook page alone).
“His fan base, they were helping out a lot,” says Rodriguez, curled up in a warm furry coat, on a freezing production set, 20 miles west of London. “They were making videos, asking us, ‘bring this relationship back.'”
“Me and Vin have this chemistry, this 13-year rapport, you can’t buy that with other actors, either you got it or you don’t. You can’t just pair people up and expect them to get along. Eventually the studios relented and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to bring her back.'”
What about the small matter of Letty’s apparent death in film number four? This is dismissed briskly by Rodriguez. “You can do anything. You didn’t see it. There was no open casket. It was for the best.”
Rodriguez, a firebrand of a performer on film (“Resident Evil,” “Avatar”) and TV (“Lost”), and as cheerful, cheeky and outspoken in person as she ever appears on screen, appears to have more faith in Vin’s army than she does in the more cloistered Hollywood types who make the final decision over such things.
“This is a historical era where you get a presidential nomination for the first time in history using the Internet. There’s something to be said about that. I see his fan base like a Gallup poll.
“You don’t get this from a screening. A screening is full of people in LA. 99% of the time, they’re out-of-work actors or people who aspire to be actors. You’re not going to get a really good opinion of what America itself wants from a screening in California, sorry, but that’s a very limited opinion. And instead, you’ve got 35 million people around the world answering questions. And he’s got that ability to listen and tap into their resources. To me, that’s beautiful.”
Is Rodriguez a convert to the cause of social media? “I’m horrible with it. My last tweet was 3 months ago. I hyper-focus a lot, I talk to individuals for hours, and then I won’t touch it again for months.”
Despite her own lack of interactivity compared with Vin’s, Rodriguez enjoys the new power this gives actors to negotiate their way around the system: “Throughout my 13-year career, I’ve always had this battle. I represent this specific demographic, ‘tomgirls,’ and I know you don’t have a lot of them in Hollywood. I need to represent those little girls or women who think I’m cool. I have to maintain that and translate that to a studio. I need charts, Gallup polls, I mean, seriously, dude … it’s not that hard, it’s called integrity.”
I’m not sure who Rodriguez is attacking in her mind’s eye as she explaining all this but, with her swift, sharp tongue, smiling all the while, I wouldn’t fancy their chances, particularly now she’s got an obvious ally in the form of Gina Carano, former mixed martial artist turned actress, and recent recruit to the Fast and Furious production.
“I love her, she’s dope. I tell her, you’re coming in at such a good time, people are starting to get it. I had to fight not to be the girlfriend, not to be in some sort of romance. Every single time they saw a girl, they just think of her vagina, and a relationship. And there are other cooler things to focus on, when you’re doing an action movie. So she’s here at a great time; people are much more receptive to girl power, and sending a message to the world to balance things out. It’s a really great time to be in the business and be a tomboy,” she concludes, smirking.
So, is Rodriguez willing to put her money where her mouth is, forsake a load of pretty girl stuff on camera and put herself up with the boys, or even the other tough girls? She nods vigorously.
“I think we need to have more girl fights. I agree with Sandra Bullock, who said if more girls were in more bar fights, we’d get along more, and I agree.
“(Fast co-star) Paul (Walker) was telling me about his young daughter. She’s learning ‘girls are really strange, they’re really nice to your face and then they’re nasty about you,’ and I had to agree with her. And that’s why I’m a tomboy. And that’s why men rule the world. So, once we get rid of that attitude, then we’ll be good to go.”
And, two films later, is she finding the chemistry intact? Is Vin a good kisser? For the first time, she almost blushes, almost like a girl.
“Yes, he is. I try not to focus on that too much because he has a family. So I try to ignore that when we’re doing our hot scenes.”
Michelle Rodriguez’s tomboy credentials remain intact.
Fast & Furious 6 will be released on May 24, 2013, and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano
For more info on the sixth installment of the series: