Michelle Rodriguez on Being Picky About Her Roles: "I Can't Be the Slut"

Michelle Rodriguez opened up about how she chooses roles and the challenges for women in film. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage

Creating her own characters! Michelle Rodriguez has built her career off of playing rough-around-the-edges women who can truly kick ass. And in real life, she’s had to fight for every part she’s taken on. 

Speaking to NJ.com about her upcoming action flick Furious 7, Rodriguez reflected on her life back in 2000 when she got her big break starring in the indie boxing flick Girlfight

“I'm really picky about the parts I choose,” the 36-year-old said. “I can't be the slut. I cannot be just the girlfriend. I can't be the girl who gets empowered because she's been raped. I can't be the girl who gets empowered and then dies.” 

Her requirements have limited her options in Hollywood, but Rodriguez doesn’t seem to mind. 

“I just said to myself, look, ‘You're going to just have to create your own archetype, doesn't matter if you go broke doing it,’” she recalled. “And I almost did go broke, twice! But people finally got it: Ok, Michelle is not malleable, you're not going to influence her by shining fame and money at her, and they stopped offering me that sort of stuff. But you know, it's a Catch-22. It's helped me and it's screwed me. I've stuck to my guns and I'm proud and people get it. But I also haven't carried a movie since Girlfight."

She has, however, landed a film “family” with the Fast and the Furious cast, starring in four of the blockbuster films as the wild child driver Letty. It was on those sets that she met and befriended the late Paul Walker. His untimely death in November 2013 hit Rodriguez hard, and she was unsure about finishing the latest installment, Furious 7

“Once we went forward, I was really, really surprised at the class that everybody showed, and the dedication that everybody showed, and the way it really became about the maintenance of a legacy,” she revealed. “But everyone came at this like, 'This is the last time we'll see this guy on the screen and this is going to be in every way dedicated to him.' And when I finally saw the movie, I gave like this big breath of relief, and I was really proud, because it really did turn into this homage.”