She swashbuckled her way through Pirates of the Caribbean and got our feet moving in the dance film Centerstage. Now, actress Zoe Saldana is boldly going where few have gone before in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. One of the biggest blockbusters of the summer, the U.S.S. Enterprise and its crew are beaming to Blu-Ray and DVD on November 17. And with Zoe's much-anticipated turn in James Cameron's Avatar—in theaters this December—we're sure that space will most definitely not be the final frontier for this talented actress.
Q: Congratulations on the new film. Were you a Star Trek fan before filming?
A: I was aware of it because my mother used to watch it sometimes, and it was because she used to watch it as a child with her grandparents. And I knew that Uhura was one of her favorite characters of all time.
Q: Lt. Uhura was a character that broke a lot of boundaries in the original series (she was one of the only African-American women cast as a regular on a series at the time and shared the first interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner). Is that one of the reasons you were attracted to the role?
A: No, I knew about that, but I didn't know the profound extent. I wanted to work with J.J., and that obviously led me to discover how meaningful this show was at that time and has been for 40-some-odd years, and that gave me a better thrill.
Q:What was it like playing one of the few women on the Enterprise?
A: Excellent. I loved it. And I love also that Uhura was very comfortable with that.
Q: Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura in the 1960s series and was convinced to stay on the series by Martin Luther King Jr. Did she give you any advice before you started filming?
A: I met her a couple of times, and she was absolutely graceful and so beautiful, and she was so happy that J.J. was doing the new Star Trek and that I was cast to play the role of Uhura. And she basically just gave me this permission, like: 'It's yours now, baby. Go, run with it and whatever you're going to do, just do it well.'"
Q: Uhura is a very strong female character. What strong women do you look up to in your own life?
A: Every woman in my family are fountains of inspiration for me. And also performances that have been done by amazing actresses like Sigourney Weaver, playing Ripley [in Alien]. And obviously Meryl Streep.
And then women like Whoopi Goldberg, too, that as a single mother and an artist and a standup comedian just did so much with what she had. Those, to me, are iconic women that I absolutely love and admire.
Q: The film is reviving the franchise; it's a new twist. Why do you think the film will appeal to people who may not have been so-called Trekkies in the first place?
A: There's this pressure we're sort of putting on the whole thing that if you're not a Trekkie, you can't really watch Star Trek, and that's so not true. This movie is going to give you the opportunity because it is the beginning. These characters are starting from scratch. They're young, they're in school, they're getting to know each other. They're being assigned into their positions for the very first time. Some of them are afraid; others are reluctant.
These characters are so amazing, and J.J. did such an amazing job with just making it a great film about action and characters and romance and science fiction. So whether you're a fan of Star Trek or not, you'll still be taken for a ride.
Zoe Saldana shares some of her favorite things.
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013
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