VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Rosa Salazar On ‘Alita: Battle Angel,’ Working With Director Robert Rodriguez
The 33-year-old actress — whose previous film credits include the Maze Runner franchise and last year’s hit Netflix thriller Bird Box — sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss her new role in the cyberpunk sci-fi action film, which is co-written and co-produced by James Cameron and that is based on the 1990s manga series Battle Angel Alita.
“So it’s [the year] 2563 and we meet Dr. Dyson Ito in the scrapyard,” Salazar explained. “He’s rummaging for parts and he finds the bust of a young girl and her human brain is miraculously intact.”
She continued, describing her character Alita, who is a cyborg and her connection with Dr. Ito, who is played by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz: “He reconstitutes her in a foreign body — the body he made for his daughter — and she’s brought to life. She wakes up and has no idea who she is, where she is, when it is, how things work. And she goes on this journey of self-discovery, which turns into a spiritual journey and she’s finding her heart.”
Salazar explains how Alita used to be a warrior in a previous life, but now finds herself leading a different existence approximately 300 years after a war known as “The Fall.” The actress also said she believes Alita: Battle Angel is a “coming-of-age story” of sorts.
Salazar performed the role in a motion-capture suit for the film, and briefly described what this process was like.
“Performing in the performance-capture suit is actually quite liberating,” she revealed. “When I’m acting through a full face of latex makeup and a hairdo that I can’t mess up and big costumes and prosthetics, that’s more inhibiting to me than anything else.”
Salazar also said she was wearing two high-definition cameras on her face “at all times.”
Alita: Battle Angel also stars Mahershala Ali as the villain, a wealthy entrepreneur named Vector who serves an immortal being named Nova. Jennifer Connelly plays Dr. Chiren, a cyborg engineer who works for Vector and who is also Dr. Ito’s ex-wife.
Salazar also praised Robert Rodriguez, who served as the film’s director.
“He really is the great Robert Rodriguez,” Salazar said. “I love him to death. He is the quintessential actor’s director.”
“Morgan Freeman said one time in an interview that the best directors are the best casting directors. They hire the person who is right for the job and then get out of the way. Essentially, that’s what Robert does. In the beginning, he wants to get to know you as a person, because he knows that if you have that spark in real life, when you blow it up to 50 feet it will be there and we’ll be able to see it.”