Zoe Saldaña: the queen of film franchises

Saldaña and the crew give the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' a fitting send-off with a critically-acclaimed final volume

Stars Insider

05/05/23 | StarsInsider

CELEBRITY Retrospective

Zoe Saldaña is cinema's not-so-secret weapon. At the age of just 44, the beautiful American actress has already made a huge impact on Hollywood. She starred as Gamora in the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' for the last eight years, but when the band of misfits hit screens in the third volume on May 4, it was for the last time. Director James Gunn revealed that this most recent movie “is the end for us, the last time people will see this team of Guardians.” Saldaña described the making of the final movie as "a very sweet departure." Critic reviews say that the final edition is the best Marvel movie in years, and as always, Saldaña's performance is a key part of that winning formula. 

It's easy to see why her roles are such a smash hit. With a vivacious personality and a stunning appearance, Saldaña is well and truly out of this world, just like her most popular characters. After all, for some reason, the actress always seems to end up in space. She's a blue Na'vi native in 'Avatar,' the green alien Gamora in 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' and a key crew member aboard the USS Enterprise in 'Star Trek.'

Saldaña started her career by paying homage to her past. Her first film role was in 'Center Stage,' a drama that followed a group of young students at the American Ballet Academy in New York. In 2002, she gained a bit of star power by appearing alongside Britney Spears in 'Crossroads.' No doubt it was a critical flop, but the film made major money at the box office.

Coincidence? Perhaps not. After turning more heads in 'Drumline,' Saldaña scored her first franchise role in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.' Appearing as Anamaria, the actress made an impression in a film bursting with A-list talent, from Johnny Depp to Keira Knightley. It wasn't long before she played a 'Star Trek' superfan in 'The Terminal,' which helped her land her second franchise role.

Indeed, 2009 was a big year for Zoe Saldaña. Her appearance in 'The Terminal' earned her a spot in the rebooted 'Star Trek.' Critics praised the film, as well as Saldaña's performance as Nyota Uhura, a character originally played by Nichelle Nichols for over 40 years.

That same year, she would star in the most successful film ever: 'Avatar.' She took on a leading role in the film, though 'Avatar' was more of a commercial hit than a critically-praised masterpiece. Saldaña, however, still picked up several awards for her heartfelt performance.

Fast forward and it seems the skin's always greener on the other side, with the actress joining the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in 2014. In the Marvel franchise, she plays green-skinned fighter Gamora. But unlike in 'Avatar,' Saldaña achieved her out-of-this-world look by using real makeup and not special effects. She also returned for the film's sequels, as well as Marvel's record-breaking two-punch: 'Infinity War' and 'Endgame.'

Safe to say that Zoe Saldaña, and her agent, deserve a round of applause. Click on to explore those franchise-favorite roles, and the sensational stories behind them.

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