Zoe Saldaña Opens Up About Feeling ‘Stuck’ After Working On Major Franchises Like Avatar And Guardians Of The Galaxy For So Many Years


In the last decade or so, numerous Hollywood stars have attached themselves to major movie blockbuster franchises. And movie star Zoe Saldaña is no different. She’s dedicated her career in recent years to notable franchise roles – Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy (and the greater MCU), and Neytiri in Avatar. Starring in several billion-dollar movies seems great on paper with each film increasing Saldaña’s Hollywood profile. But it appears everything that glitters isn’t gold as the MCU star opened up about feeling stuck after working on major properties.

Saldaña’s words came on the heels of the actress gearing up for one of 2022’s blockbusters, Avatar: The Way of Water, which hits theaters on December 16. With mountains of promotion ahead for the much-delayed sequel, the Hollywood star was honest with WWD about lacking a sense of creativity working on nothing but big-budget movie franchises for a decade.

I feel that for the last 10 years of my life, I’ve been just stuck. I felt stuck doing these franchises. 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. So this is something that I wanted to do for a very long time. And wrestling, too, with this pressure that society puts on women that your youth is gone as soon as you have children and you go into your 40s.

Playing notable characters across multiple franchises has been a double-edged sword for the beloved actress. Her increased profile allowed her to take on more roles but led to her being seen as only a sci-fi and action star. Luckily, Saldaña has broken out of her runt in recent months through the maligned farce Amsterdam and the beloved Netflix miniseries From Scratch. It seems like the MCU star is finally starting to find a balance as she will follow up Avatar 2 with one of 2023’s biggest films, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, hitting theaters on May 5.

While she felt pigeonholed as a franchise star, Saldaña used her frustration to push back against Hollywood’s ageist beliefs. Like many actresses, the Star Trek star has dealt with issues centered around her desirability as a wife and mother of three. She decided to that control of her career again as a 44-year-old actress in entertainment.

But today, now that I’m 44, I’ve been able to have these opportunities, and I took control over my aging and I took control over my voice and how I consider myself as a woman. And I’m so happy that I’m able to collaborate with filmmakers and producers and people in this industry that want that for women, that want women to be ageless and who don’t fetishize women’s youth. And so it’s interesting. It’s really interesting.

Saldaña is taking control of her acting career after spending a decade being a reliable blockbuster action star. She’s fighting against Hollywood’s obsession with women and aging by going for and creating projects for herself if the system won’t.

Zoe Saldaña will appear and produce another TV project Lioness along with Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan. That doesn’t mean her time as a franchise star is over as she will appear in Avatar 3 and its possible follow-ups Avatar 4 and 5. She will return to the role of Lt. Uhura for a third Star Trek sequel, which is still in development.


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