Zoe Saldana Adds to Short List of Memorable Female Action Stars: Colombiana Opens Today

Zoe Saldana Adds to Short List of Memorable Female Action Stars: Colombiana Opens Today

Female action stars have been relatively few and far in between in Hollywood, not to mention black ones. Such roles are usually reserved for strapping white men.  There have been a handful of memorable Female “badasses,” though, such as Foxy Brown (Pam Grier); Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson); Terminator’s Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton); Aliens’ Ripley (Sigourney Weaver); to name some, but the list is decidedly short.

Now, Sony Pictures has decided to take a chance on adding another one to the list,  portrayed by beautiful and svelte Dominican Puerto Rican actress, Zoe Saldana.


Coming off her most recent and record-breakingly successful venture, starring in Avatar as Neytiri, the slight, but formidable actress has taken to violently spilling blood in the name of revenge and love for her family.  She portrays the complexly stoic and skillful assassin, Cataleya, in TriStar Pictures’ Colombiana.

Saldana speaks about being a woman in a violent role:


“It’s very empowering to see that women can not only play roles that are a certain way, that you can also play roles that are physically demanding and violent and dark and they shouldn’t diminish us or demean us or make you feel offended or nervous because we might get hurt,” she said.

“We’re feisty creatures, just like men are and it’s about time we start incorporating that into our art.”

Zoe Saldana Adds to Short List of Memorable Female Action Stars: Colombiana Opens Today
Young Cataleya, portrayed by Amandla Stenberg, receives Cataleya pendant from her father.

As as young girl, Cataleya (a type of Orchid dear to her father’s heart), watched her parents murdered in cold blood as a result of ties-gone-wrong to a Colombian drug cartel. That day inspired an action-packed lifelong journey of brutal killing – tagged with drawings of the flower.  To achieve her resolve to be a “killer,” she had to go through intense street-style training by her thuggish, but big-hearted uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis).

Saldana has portrayed physical roles before, but this outing tested her limits:

“Thanks to Avatar and doing films like The Losers as well, I was able to sustain a muscle memory of what I had learned on every project,” she said.  “So, by the time I started training for Colombiana, it wasn’t like it was second nature, but I was starting somewhere already, I just need to master my gun training with different gun models of course, heavy ones, build muscles where I could also sustain the combat and technical training because it was a very different form of fighting from Aisha in The Losers and from Neytiri in Avatar. She had a combination of martial arts with krav maga, which is the Israeli sort of military training, but it couldn’t be flawless, it had to be kind of street, because that’s how she trained … so this was a little difficult, but I had to do it.”

Zoe Saldana Adds to Short List of Memorable Female Action Stars: Colombiana Opens TodayThough revenge was her focus, Cataleya wasn’t completely self-serving in her deeds. Along with carrying out her “kill and bait” plan aimed at luring her parents’ murderers into her trap, she held down a part-time gig contract killing those who had visited some wrong on society.  A twisted robin hood of sorts, but easier on the eyes.

Saldana couldn’t identify with Cataleya’s emotional stoicism and apathy as she committed murder, but she was able to find parts of herself in the role.

“Tapping into her melancholy and her pain, I don’t identify with her at all, but I can identify with her focus and her perseverance and she’s physically agile,” she said. “And my family means everything to me … It’s my beginning, my middle and my end.”

Zoe Saldana gave herself completely to the role of Cataleya and took moviegoers on a wild ride of bloodshed, would-be romance and revenge – which is normally sweet, but in this case, “beautiful.”

Colombiana opens in theaters Friday, August 26.

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