• Golden Globe Awards

Out of the Archives: Michelle Rodriguez on “Girlfight”

Michelle Rodriguez, a fixture of the Fast and Furious franchise since 2001, spoke with HFPA journalists in 2000 about her film debut in Girlfight, written and directed by Karyn Kusama, where she played a teenage boxer.
“Karyn made me watch Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, and I was really impressed by his composure, then, later on, I did happen to see, Apocalypse Now and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is pretty amazing.’  But what she wanted me to capture was his ability to internalize his emotions, because in real life I’m pretty raw, I’m very animated, so I had to compose myself and try to suppress everything that I’m so used to being, loud and rambunctious.”
“Diana Guzman is not much for glitz and glamour, she’s not looking for a BMW to drive. She was more worried about finding herself as a human being and trying to find a place where she can channel her aggressions and it’s accepted, where both your animalistic and your humanistic qualities are accepted. I don’t think that she was using boxing to get out of the ghetto, she was looking for a place to put all of that suppressed emotion that she had while growing up in the projects, and discipline it to the point where she could do it in a sport.”
“What I got out of the whole process of making this film was that I learned discipline. I’m so irresponsible, I’m always late for everything and I’m so bad at keeping track of what I’ve got to get done to reach my goals, that finally, by being in that ring and getting my butt kicked, I learned that the only way that you can be good at what you do is if you practice and you put your all into it.”
“I release my anger by punching pillows, by reasoning and thinking about why I’m angry, what could be the solution to making myself feel better. Most of the time, whenever I feel pissed off, I take long walks in the middle of the night, because it’s peaceful, no one is out, and you feel like you own the night, walking down the street, contemplating, thinking about your problems.”
“I always wondered why from childhood I could relate to the male characters in all of these action films, the action heroes, and it was because I never saw myself as the damsel in distress. I was like, ‘How come it’s always the girls that are getting massacred by serial killers? I’m tired of it, I want to see something different.’  And it’s still hard because producers are scared to take chances and they probably think it’s a girl-power, butch-dyke thing, but what Karyn found in this film is that balance between femininity and masculinity.”
“I think females who are working in the stock market and face guys that could be very ignorant and are always going for the grabbing of the ass, or maybe female scientists who are having trouble getting promotions when they know they’re a lot smarter than their colleagues, everyone can relate to ignorance and the struggle of getting past that. That’s a universal topic that takes away the fact that Diana is Spanish, and all the ordinary run-of-the-mill race and gender stereotypes that label you and limit your life.”