Zoe Saldaña ‘Felt Stuck’ Acting in Franchises: ‘Artistically Stuck’ and ‘Not Able to Grow or Challenge Myself’

Zoe Saldaña recently told Women’s Wear Daily that she has felt stuck over the last decade as an actor due to her various franchise commitments, which include her roles as Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Uhura in “Star Trek” and Neytiri in “Avatar.” Balancing three huge franchises has limited her opportunities to challenge herself as an actor, Saldaña said. Make no mistake, however, the actor is still grateful to be in these films.

“I feel that for the last 10 years of my life, I’ve been just stuck. I felt stuck doing these franchises,” Saldaña said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that they provided, from collaborating with amazing directors and getting to meet cast members that I consider friends and getting to play a role that fans, especially children, love. But it also meant that I felt artistically stuck in my craft of not being able to expand or grow or challenge myself by playing different sorts of genres and different roles.”

Being able to expand her acting talents is “something that I wanted to do for a very long time,” Saldaña said. It’s something she’s doing more as of late thanks projects like Netflix’s tear-jerker drama “From Scratch,” which was one of the streamer’s most popular original series this fall, and the upcoming “Lioness,” which hails from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan and boasts Saldaña and Nicole Kidman as producers.

Saldaña also spoke to WWD about how her approach to work somewhat changed in the wake of her franchises successes. She said her current work strategy is more like it was in her early days in terms of “giving 120 percent and do the homework and go to bed early and focus on my work.”

“After ‘Avatar,’ when you’re young and all of the time you have, the opportunity to travel and to go to lavish dinners and wear beautiful outfits and the nightlife became very attractive,” Saldaña said. “It was a lot of working hard and a lot of [playing] hard that sometimes got in the way of me feeling fully, fully proud of the work I was doing — because I did the work”

“Now that I’m a little older and I would like to consider myself a little wiser, it’s going back to that [feeling] of having those healthy boundaries for myself of ‘go to bed early, really work. I know you’re tired. I know you really want to go out and go with your kids and just say, ‘Fuck my rehearsal and fuck my practice and fuck this session.’ But I don’t,” she continued. “I still manage to focus on family life and also focus on my work. And I feel good.”

Of course Saldaña’s franchise commitments aren’t slowing down any time soon. “Avatar: The Way of Water” opens Dec. 16 and she’s already shot the third “Avatar” movie and parts of a fourth. There will be a fifth “Avatar” if all goes well at the box office for the sequels. Saldaña will also be back in the MCU when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” open in May 2023.

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