American actress, Zoe Saldana, is used to being outnumbered by blokes. At home, the 38-year-old lives with her husband, artist Marco Perego, and their three young sons. Yes, THREE. At work, she acts alongside Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista in the new film The Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (out April 25).
So how does she cope with all that testosterone? “I’ve gotten used to the dick jokes,” she says, laughing. “I have a house full of men, my [twin] sons are two and my youngest is four-months-old. Trust me, it is about their dicks. That’s just nature. You have to embrace it.”
Embracing men (and their dick jokes) seems to be Saldana’s approach for succeeding in the male-dominated action film industry. “They say if you can’t beat them, join them. And I don’t want to beat them anymore, I want to join men because I learn so much and am inspired by men every single day,” she explains.
Saldana, who also stars in the Avatar and Star Trek franchises, admits that being the only girl on a film set can be “a very lonely environment.”
This year, more women are fronting action movies than ever before, including Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde and Alicia Vikander in Tomb Raider.
“I’m so happy these actresses are taking that risk and playing these role because I think it’s really important for women,” says Saldana. “Growing up, I didn’t have that many female action hero icons. I like to think I’m giving women more references in a place where there aren’t enough of them.”
Saldana thinks we’re past the stage where women are merely tokens in action films. Female characters are no longer there just to congratulate the man when he saves the day. “Female characters are participating in all the action – and that’s exciting,” says Saldana, who stars in more than her fair share of “grueling” action scenes in the new Guardians.
Off screen, Saldana is teaching her three sons to love and respect women. “They are so little, so we’re teaching them to love everyone around them and to love themselves first,” she says, while insisting her sons are the ones teaching her life lessons.
“I think as parents we can get very busy teaching our kids lessons, when in reality they are actually here to teach us. My husband and me are extroverts and can talk anybody to death. The biggest lesson we’re learning [from our kids] is to listen.” To listen – and laugh at dick jokes.
The Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is out April 25.