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From Blackfilm.com

Gina Torres

Gina Torres - About "Serenity" Movie - Blackfilm.com Interview

By Wilson Morales

Tuesday 2 August 2005, by Webmaster

Serenity: An Interview with Gina Torres

Since the days of Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton, we haven’t had too many strong female sci-fi characters on the big screen. Most recently, we saw Sanaa Lathan kick some butt in "Alien Vs. Predator", but aside from that, not many characters have stood out. Well, thanks to Joss Whedon, the creator of the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel, the cancelled TV show Firefly is coming to the big screen under the title "Serenity" and one of the main characters of the show/ film is ZoŽ Warren, played by Gina Torres. Zoe is a fierce fighter and second-in-command aboard the ship. Torres was last seen in the last two sequels to the Matrix franchise playing Cas, the wife of Harold Pirreneau’s character. Torres was recently at the 2005 San Diego Comic Con to promote "Serenity" and spoke to blackfilm.com about her character Zoe as well as working with her husband Laurence Fishburne on her next film.

For those who may not know that "Serenity" is based on the cancelled TV series, Firefly, what role do you play?

Gina Torres: I play Zoe Washburn, who is the captain’s right hand on the Serenity firefly craft, a spaceship. I also happened to be married to the pilot, played by Alan Tudyk (I Robot).

How different will your character be from what was seen on TV?

Gina: She’s the same chick. (Laughs).

Did Joss (Whedon, the director) make Zoe tougher in any way or was there any change to her personality?

Gina: No. It’s a continuation of where we left off. It’s a continuation of the stories. So basically all of the characters are in tact. All of the characters that you came to know and love are all present and are who they are. Circumstances determine certain reactions that we have. Circumstances that are particular to the storyline and so, stakes are very high and therefore we have to react in an appropriate manner.

It’s very rare that a cancelled show makes it to the big screen, especially a show that only lasted 11 episodes. Were you surprised when you heard that Joss was making a film out of the show?

Gina: Absolutely. I wasn’t surprised that Josh could pull it off. He could pretty do anything that he puts his mind into; but it was an extraordinary thing for me and everyone involved to have a studio do the first film.

Joss has a flare for creating very strong female characters such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What do you think you have added to Zoe? Is there a little bit of her in you?

Gina: Yeah. There’s a little bit of me in everybody that I play. Zoe was quite drawn in a way that was both very specific and left a lot for me to fill in. I certainly think that we share a sarcastic wit. That was cool.

Having done two of the "Matrix" films as well as your role in this film, would you say that you have a passion for the sci-fi genre?

Gina: No. It’s just worked out that way. (Laughs). I like good movies. Not to say that there aren’t wonderful sci-fi films out there, but it’s not where I go first. It’s not where I go first in the rental aisle I should say.

One of the things that’s an interesting of the show/film is the western aspect of it. What do you make of it?

Gina: I thought it was great. I thought it was so smart. It’s a really wonderful departure from a sci-fi world that we have come to be comfortable with and familiar with; typically speaking, the Star Trek world, the Stargate world, where there’s sort of a cleanliness and neatness about it regardless of whatever trouble they may get into at some particular point. The future has both. The future has both gritty and savage and clean and "techno-hip". I think it’s a very realistic point of view.

There seems to be a fascination with Hollywood to either put a female in a distressing view or in leadership position such as Ripley from "Aliens".

Gina: Yes, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in the middle. Here’s the thing. Once given an opportunity, we absolutely show and in many cases surpass many people’s expectations of what a woman in charge can do. As long as it’s cast well, and as long as the right woman is in the role and we feel we can follow that woman anywhere, then there’s no problem. Sanaa had an authority. Sigourney (Weaver) had an authority. Linda Hamilton (from The Terminator) had an authority that was indisputable, and I’m told that I have some of that as well. I’m very excited about seeing Geena Davis in her next show, "Commander-in-Chief". I think it’s exciting. I think it’s wonderful. We are capable of a great many things and to portray or see that on the big screen, it’s not a lie or a fantasy. It’s just showing another aspect of what is very real.

In the film, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interaction between you and Alan Tudyk’s character. Do you think fans will be upset by this?

Gina: I think there was so to accomplish in terms of pleasing people who are already coming to the table with a love for the show and introducing other people and also getting the story rolling that the focus had to be on the story and getting that story told; and sometimes things fall away. I think we tell a great story. I think we do a good job of bringing people into our world. Hopefully we will leave them wanting more and wanting to explore by buying the DVD and seeing where these people have been and getting more into their past.

You seemed at ease handling the rifle. Have you had experience with such a weapon?

Gina: No. It was just film stuff. I am not a big lover of guns. They have their place. Certainly not in my world or in my home but in my work I’ve had to handle them quite a bit. It was a firearm that I spent part of the year strapped to my hip, so I’m comfortable with my swordoff.

How often does the cast get together? Was Comic Con a reunion since the shooting the film wrapped?

Gina: No, we see each other quite a lot actually, especially now since pr is picking up. We see each other for photo shoots. We tend to be social, so we do see each otherevery now and then.

How was working with Ron Glass?

Gina: I adore Ron. I was watching Ron as most people of our generation on "Barney Miller". My earliest memories of television and when he walked on stage for the first time when we did the series, I was like, "I love you!"

His appearance on the show and film kills all those "Where are they now?" questions.

Gina: Yes. He keeps himself busy. He’s one of our gifts that unfortunately I feel I don’t get to see enough of him or his work and what he’s capable of.

What do you think Joss (Whedon) wanted you to bring to the character when you first went out for the role of Zoe?

Gina: Well, I think he hired me because he saw a great deal of what he had written and so there was never really a whole lot of discussion. He felt confident and comfortable with what I was bringing to the table, which is a quiet authority. Zoe’s presence is more often more important than anything than she can say. When she speaks, it’s always for a reason; for a particular reason. She’s just not talking just to be talking. I think that if Zoe is displeased or if she’s happy, we want to feel like the temperature is literally changing in the room and that was my job. To make it feel that if the room was cold, a happy turn would come in and Zoe would be pleased.

Did you have to get in shape, physically, for your role?

Gina: I just had to put on my clothes.

You also have a TV show coming out called "Soccer Mom".

Gina: Nope, ABC did not pick us up.

How about the film "Five Cigarettes"? Is it still coming out?

Gina: That is actually happening. That has been shot. It’s in the can and we are expecting a late 2005, early 2006 release.

The highlight of the film is the fact that you will be working with your husband, Laurence Fishburne. Did you discuss the aspects of husband-wife working together on a film?

Gina: No. The script came to Laurence and he said, "This part’s perfect for you" and I read it, and I agreed, and believe it or not, I auditioned. The director had other ideas and that happens. We, as creative people, and certainly I’m not in a place that my husband is in terms of recognition and reputation and stardom and all of that, and even if I were, as creative artistic people who work with other creative artistic people, you have to respect their desires and their wishes. You can say as he did, "I think my wife is perfect for the part" but if the director says, ’I thinking of ..... because of ....", and you have to respect that, and so I had to go in and change his mind. What was so attractive about this particular part was the subject matter which is a political thriller and very timely. It was also not a relationship between my husband and I. No one is going to see this movie and feel like they are peeking through a key hole. We are autonomist of each other and it was really just about the joy of working together on a project and a project that we really believed in. It wasn’t about anything other than that. The movie is first. The work is first.

What’s the film about?

Gina: It’s about a young idealist man, played by Ryan Philippe, who is kidnapped and then held for interrogation. He is being interrogated by Muslim fundamentalists, played by myself and Laurence Fishburne. It’s very timely with what’s going on in the world today.

Has "Serenity" done a lot for you in terms of getting more roles on films?

Gina: Yes, I think it’s attractive to the business when you are working. It’s that old saying, "Work begets work". When you are working and are visible, you become more attractive to the industry. It’s still tricky. There’s still not as many choices as one would like to have. I’m the first one to tell you that I’m a snob. If I’m going to spend three months of my life giving my all to something, I want to believe in what I’m doing or if it’s nine months of my life doing a television series, I want to be happy when I walk on to the stage or in the studio. It is hard to find those things that you can passionate about and be joyful about.

For those who are not aware of ’Firefly", why should they go see "Serenity"?

Gina: It’s a movie that’s both entertaining and at times, quite funny, and that explores relationship between very different people and also makes you think about the world that we are in and where we may be going as a society.

If the film is a hit, are you signed on for a sequel?

Gina: Yes


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