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After an impassioned Instagram post that was widely interpreted as a goodbye to the Fast and Furious franchise, Michelle Rodriguez said it was less a threat than an encouragement for the writers to explore the female characters more.
While the series of films has cast strong female characters with Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron starring in recent outings, the movies don’t pass the first step of the famed Bechdel test where women interact as individuals and not as accessories of men.
“We always see the guys talking, we know what they’re thinking and we know their relationships, but I can count with one hand in eight movies how many times the women talk to each other,” said Rodriguez. “So it’s, ‘Who are they, what are they about, and do you care?’ I just brought up a question, and if that doesn’t get answered and as I start on this path [of more dramatic roles], I just wonder if our paths meet at all.”
However, the actress emphasized her strong relationship with franchise co-star and producer Vin Diesel. “I’m sure he’ll convince me,” she said of coming back for the next installment. Rodriguez said Diesel is aware of her concerns, and while both see it as a platform to promote multiculturalism within Hollywood, she also wants the films to evolve and address global violence against women and other cultural issues. “Yes, you’re there to entertain people, but when you’re on that scale you also have a responsibility. I won’t accept anything else, and Vin won’t accept anything else. He knows, he gets it.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at the Deauville Film Festival, where she was set to receive a career honor, Rodriguez also called out Hollywood for its lack of diversity. “You know you penetrate 80 percent of the [global] market, but you don’t want to take on the responsibility of representing those markets you are penetrating,” she said. “Represent the grand majority of the cultures and involve them in your storytelling — don’t just feed us your whiteness.”
The actress also cast doubt on her returning for the next installment of James Cameron’s Avatar. Her character died at the end of the last film, and it seems it will stay that way. “They’re bringing a lot of people back from the dead, but I don’t think I’m one of them,” she said.
After forging a career with a series of tough-chick roles, Rodriguez said she felt she was hitting a career ceiling and is refocusing on the craft of acting. First up is portraying a housewife in Steve McQueen’s upcoming heist film Widows, which she found more challenging than some of her more physical roles.
Taking on the role of an unambitious wife who hasn’t ventured far from the neighborhood she grew up in was “one of my greatest fears,” said Rodriguez. McQueen took her to a lot of uncomfortable places which forced her to grow as an actress, she explained.
Rodriguez is now focused on finding more of these roles — save perhaps for the lead in an action film down the line — and producing her own material.
“There aren’t enough women out there doing it, and I don’t want to be an example of somebody who sucks. I feel like I have a weight to carry,” she said of the two-year development of her first project, a CIA drama for television that she is set to pitch to networks soon.
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