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Showbiz Today Star of Tomorrow

Michelle Rodriguez: Looking for 'something different'

By Lori Blackman
Showbiz Today Reports

Michelle Rodriguez says she looks for roles that make her "feel little tingles" when she reads a script  

(CNN) -- Michelle Rodriguez came out of nowhere two years ago at the Sundance Film Festival with a small film called "Girlfight." Critics asked if she could play anything other than a boxer.

Well, now she plays a car racer (in "The Fast and the Furious") and a cab driver (in Showtime's "3 a.m."). If that's not eclectic enough for you, in her next film she is a zombie -- literally.

CNN met up with this Showbiz Today Star of Tomorrow to talk about her hot career.

CNN: Did you ever expect the film "Girlfight" to do for you and your career what it did?


MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ: I hadn't a clue. I just thought it was a small movie that got accepted in to this big film festival. I really didn't expect it to do as well as it did, and then all of a sudden BOOM! I was in the spotlight and so was the film, and it felt good because we worked hard, man. We really did bust our butts to make that movie

CNN: I want to take you back a few years to when you were an extra in movie sets. How did you find yourself going from that to lead in a feature film?

CNN's Lori Blackman talks to actress Michelle Rodriguez (July 18)

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RODRIGUEZ: I don't know. I just showed up to my first audition one day because I didn't like being judged. Finally, I decided to give it a shot because if you don't play you won't win the lotto. So I tried, I played and I won.

CNN: You won big, with a film that went on to earn you future lead roles. One in "The Fast and the Furious."

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I'm part of this gang of illegal drag racers in that film. It's pretty cool. I chose that role because I found it interesting. There are a lot of girls out there that love to take cars apart and it's not their boyfriend's car. I wanted to represent for them. I know that these rebels really don't have a face in the industry. That's what I'm there for. It's cool, man.

Rodriguez in a scene from "The Fast and the Furious"  

CNN: And you also have a film on Showtime called "3 a.m.," where you play a different type of driver.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, my character is a taxi driver. What I found so interesting about the film is that it's a girl without a boyfriend and I looked at all the movies that I saw with female characters and usually these girls are love hungry, or they're looking for love, or have had bad luck with love. Love always had to sneak its way in there, and for some reason this character had absolutely nothing to do with that. I said; "Whoa, that is too cool."

CNN: Did you do any fighting in the film?

RODRIGUEZ: No, I don't fight. Well, I do kind of fight, demons in a way. You know, in my head. Not the physical fighting, more the emotional fighting.

CNN: Do you find that you're able to let that anger come out of you more easily when you're playing a character, or are you a fighting nature off camera as well?

RODRIGUEZ: I think sometimes, yeah. I think that's a beautiful thing when that happens, actually, because it's all about taking all those emotions you would feel in that situation and then letting them loose. Then exaggerating them, or volumizing (sic) them, or switching it up to suit the script, it's fun. It's exciting to me, I'm glad I have that ability because I don't when else I would do with life, you know what I mean? If I didn't know how to channel my emotions, 'cause, man, dude, that's part of life, what we try to harness. I'm kind of ahead of the game there. So, it feels good, yeah.

CNN: I read that your family members are Jehovah Witnesses and that you grew up as one.

RODRIGUEZ: I am not a Jehovah Witness now, but I did grow up raised as one. But then I also had a father who was very liberal and loved research and literature and communism, so I was torn. I grew up basically ripped in half. So, with the only option that I had was to find my own way through life, so I am very thankful because the Jehovah Witnesses taught me morals, and I am very grateful because my father's side taught me research and the power to find things and information. I can't really say I'm religious, and I can't really say I'm not spiritual. So, I don't think you can label me yet.

CNN: Can we label you a zombie in your next film? You're going to Berlin to do a movie called "Resident Evil." Do you ever take any normal roles?

RODRIGUEZ: No, actually. I don't want to, they're boring. "Resident Evil" -- it's based on a video game that I love. And I love this video game because it's Hitchcock-like and you get into it and it's about scientists and their development and how they mess up with gene splicing and create these big giant creatures. It's disgusting and zombies pop out all over the place.

CNN: You have such a varied array of roles you've chosen so far, what is it that you look for?

RODRIGUEZ: I want to feel little tingles inside me when I read it. If I don't, I won't like it. And I don't mean that in a perverted way. So for all you perverts out there, keep it to yourself. I want something different, something exciting. That's what I go for.

CNN: What was it about this character in "3 a.m." that made you feel tingles?

RODRIGUEZ: She's mysterious. There's something about her character that just you can't figure out exactly. And you try to label it as cocky or crazy or psychotic, but you really can't because you don't know what's going on in her head or what she's been through. That's what spooked me out about her. On top of the fact that she drives cabs at three in the morning -- that sends tingles up my spine too.

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