Ever since she rose to fame in Girlfight, Michelle Rodriguez has been the go-to girl for female kick-butt roles. In Battle: L.A., she plays an Air Force Technical Sergeant, and this time it’s invading aliens on the receiving end of her wrath.
In the following excerpts from a recent press junket, Rodriguez talks about training for her role at U.S. Marines boot camp, alien guts and, ahem, snot rockets.
Q. Was Battle: L.A. your most physically difficult role yet?
A. Girlfight still remains the most physically demanding thing I ever worked on, just because of the extent — six months of working out, 25 pounds of muscle. It was pretty gnarly. But I got to say this movie was the most intense actual shoot. It wasn’t the training, necessarily. The training was strenuous, but that’s three weeks of boot camp compared to four months of just soot, ash, 110-degree weather in Louisiana, sun beaming down at you, 30 pounds of gear. It was pretty damn gnarly, man. Explosions everywhere. Every night it would be a salt bath and blowing nasty snot rockets of black soot. I mean, it was gnarly. I would dream of explosions and fire.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of training for the film with the U.S. Marines at boot camp?
A. The most challenging thing for me is physical training… I find it boring and monotonous. You know, running without anybody behind you with a gun? If I’m gonna run, I’d like an obstacle course or something. I’d like a purpose to it. But that was hard, waking up every day at five in the morning, driving over to where the boys were stationed… At least I got to go home at 5 o’clock [unlike the men]. They didn’t want me to stare at anybody’s hairy balls or nothing, so they sent me home.
And the poor boys, they had to eat that food, man. It’s so nasty those rations. They’re hard core, man. I’m sorry, they do not taste good. I only ate them twice a day. But that was pretty strenuous, waking up every day at five in the morning, running for two miles, the sit-ups, the push-ups. That’s where I got my abs for Machete — all those sit-ups… every day for three weeks. It was pretty strenuous. And then running around with your gear, 30 pounds of it, in the heat, the hot sun beaming at you, and you’re unloading at least 20 magazines on a daily basis. You’re doing infiltration sequences and learning how to communicate with the Marines.
As a matter of fact, I had to come up with an excuse if it ever popped up in the movie for why I’m so good with a gun, because the Air Force, they don’t get such demanding training, and they don’t move the same way [Marine] grunts do. So every now and then I’d have [the Sergeant who was training me] tap me on the shoulder and be like, ‘Hey man, you know you’re supposed to move like Air Force! Slow it down a little bit!”
Q. Was that evil alien that you dissected in the film a real prop, or were those guts and organs added in post-production?
A. Ew!!! We had a big prop. That’s what it was. I love Jonathan (director Jonathan Liebesman) for that, ’cause he wants everything to be visceral and auditory. There were always explosions going off and always a sensation of danger looming over you. But that’s what great about him. He wanted everything to be real… So the thing had to light up and it had to be gooey, and he (Jonathan) had to see the guts, and he wants to see the goo, and he wants us to feel it and stab it and touch it. He wants it to move and vibrate. So we had, like, five people on set always refreshing the KY jelly and throwing coffee bean stuff over it. And then it’s like, “It’s not gruesome enough! We need more goo!” And at one point I’m just like — bleh! — ready to throw up because it looks like real intestines and starting to smell weird.