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Zoe Saldana on Death at a Funeral

Published April 14, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Zoe Saldana has just proven herself an action heroine with the landmark Avatar and the upcoming The Losers. Death at a Funeral is a comedy but she’s not so sure she can be funny herself.

Zoe Saldana Laughs at Death at a Funeral

“No, I don't think I’m funny at all,” Saldana said. “I don’t want to be but I just knew that this was going to be an amazing experience. Everything about the concoction of this project was appealing, from Neil Labute to Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover and the rest of all of us coming all the way down. Then I remember asking my team, ‘Well, who’s going to be playing the crazy boyfriend that’s high on substances?’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, James Marsden.’ I’m like, “Oh my God, yes.’ It just felt to me like something I’ve never done before and it was a challenge.”

The film is a remake of a British comedy about a dysfunctional family facing conflict and scandal at a funeral. Saldana thought that was universal material. “I saw the first one and I loved it. I’ve seen it like four or five times. Something about it just felt like, ‘Oh my God, that’s one thing that the entire world has in common, that’s funerals.’ And everyone has a crazy family member. It didn’t matter if it was in England or if it was here in America or whatever. It was still, to me, not because I’m arrogant or anything but I kind of am, it was going to work and it was hysterical.”

She’s kind of the straight man in her subplot. James Marsden plays her fiancé, who accidentally takes a hallucinogenic drug hidden in a Valium bottle. Saldana just had to react to his naked antics.

Death at a Funeral Death at a Funeral

“The funniest thing that Jimmy did that wasn’t so funny, but it kind of was too, was that the scene where he’s supposed to be completely naked on the rooftop and I’m supposed to open the window and go, ‘What are you doing? Come back inside. Blah blah blah.’ He didn’t give me any warning that he had taken off his pants. So I’m talking with Luke [Wilson] inside and then Neil yells, ‘Action.’ I open the window and said, ‘What?’ I’m just like, ‘Look at his eyes.’ I just kept looking at his face. I could’ve been prepared to know that he was going to be naked so it’s awkward. You’re embarrassed, he’s embarrassed and then they yell cut and I yell at him. I’m like, ‘Next time if you don’t tell me I’m going to punch you. I just need to be ready.’ He’s like, ‘Thank you so much. You were such a gentleman. You kept looking at me in my eyes.’ I wouldn’t look down.”

Saldana also costars with Columbus Short in both Funeral and The Losers. They filmed Funeral first. “It really helped that we play brother and sister in this movie because we have yet to find out, we’ve been on an inquisition since last year. We honestly do think that we have the same father. Our mothers just haven’t told us yet. It really helped us because by the time we got to Puerto Rico, then we felt confident enough to push each other as actors. Even though our characters really didn’t have much to do with each other, but we were there as brother and sister sort of off camera and that was pretty awesome.”

Death at a Funeral opens to theaters on April 16th.

For the trailers, poster and more movie info, go to the Death at a Funeral Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of respective holders

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