Zoe Saldana admits that, as an actress whose film career has spanned multiple galaxies and far-reaching timelines, she had a tough time wrapping her head around a very unexpected request from Ben Affleck.
“I would have never considered gangster movies,” laughs Saldana, admitting no affinity for the genre. But Affleck was earnest in his opinion that she would make an ideal Graciella, the Cuban revolutionary engaged in a passionate crusade as well as an equally torrid romance with Affleck’s rum-running mobster character. “I was like, ‘Me? It’s a period piece—I do more future stuff.’ And then I just told myself, ‘Why not just work with Ben Affleck? Why not just play an Afro-Cuban that sells molasses to make rum in the 1920s in Florida?’ Like, ‘Why not do that?’”
“Trying to imagine that [1920s] America, how I would have been in that America, how I would have felt about that America, and how that America would have felt about me, I’m very happy that I did this intellectual pilgrimage,” she says. She works hard and doesn’t want to stop until she achieves something she feels is truthful,” says Affleck, pointing to her innate “great bullshit detector. Zoe isn’t going to let a false note pass unchallenged. She pushed me to make her character the truest it could be—and the most interesting.”
“Now I am into being a woman in a different way,” she says after her string of empowered roles. “I react very negatively to feeling vulnerable or having others think that I’m in a vulnerable position. So I’m listening to those fears, and I’m addressing them by playing roles that make me feel more vulnerable. I’m embracing that femininity, that strength, that I used to mistake for weakness.” She admits that when she became a mother—and especially the mother of twins (she and her husband, Italian artist Marco Perego, are parents to two-year-old twin sons, Bowie and Cy)—she expected the doubled-down demands of parenthood to sap her vitality.
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Photos & Content Courtesy of LA Confidential Magazine