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A Minute With: Zoe Saldana on her ambition to direct

Cast member Zoe Saldana poses during a photocall for the film "Blood Ties" at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 20, 2013. REUTERS/
Cast member Zoe Saldana poses during a photocall for the film "Blood Ties" at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 20, 2013. REUTERS/

By Rollo Ross

LONDON (Reuters) - Actress Zoe Saldana has starred in the blockbuster movies "Avatar" and "Star Trek" so her latest movie, the smaller budget "Blood Ties," was quite a shift. But she is also eyeing another new role - director.

In "Blood Ties," which had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival this month, 34-year-old Saldana plays the girlfriend of a policeman whose complex relationship with his brother pits duty against family loyalty.

The film, by French actor-turned-director Guillaume Canet, also stars Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis and James Caan.

Saldana spoke to Reuters about the differences in appearing in small and big-budget film, why she wants to direct and maintaining control.

Q: How did you approach a smaller budget movie?

A: There are sacrifices that you make. Your trailer isn't as big or as nice. I'm joking. But my approach is always going to be the same, whether it comes in a big package or a small package. If I commit to do a role and to be part of a story it is my job and my duty to give 150 percent to putting this character together. I did the same on "Blood Ties" that I did on "Avatar" and "Star Trek".

Q: What were the differences?

A: When it comes to certain blockbuster movies, the budget is healthier so there are just perks. Not just perks but there are things that you need that you get. When you are shooting a film like "Blood Ties" when the budget is not as big and you are shooting in a city like New York, which is a very expensive city, all the budget goes into the movie and you just make compromises. You are happy to do so because you are collaborating with amazing people. It is a good day at the office. The office might be smaller but it is good.

Q: How have your ambitions changed from five years ago?

A: Five years ago I didn't have ambitions. I would just live day-to-day. It is not like I am a happy-go-lucky person. I am very determined and if I get an audition to go for a role that I really want I will give 150 percent. But I was never the man with the plan until recently, maybe two years ago. It is only because of my desire to make that transition and become a director and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to work with Guillaume (Canet) because he is an actor and now he has been making a very graceful and solid transition into directing.

Q: What appeals to you about directing?

A: It is much more satisfying. You are more of a participant in the conception and making of a story, of a movie, as opposed to being an actor that's hired and shows up and says your lines. Obviously you collaborate with your director and your producer but as soon as you leave you are at everybody's mercy and that is too much of a loss of control for me, of my craft.

Q: Have you had issues with your work being changed?

A: I have been working in this business for over 10 years and, especially as a woman, you are disappointed because by the time you get to see your work it has changed so much. I don't like to be disappointed. I like having control. I think I have capability, and as a woman I can't be at too many people's mercy. It is not OK for me. I am a story teller and an artist and I love what I do so I want to be a part of it more and not just show up and say my lines.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Patricia Reaney and Paul Casciato)

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