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Michelle Rodriguez’s most recent film project is Resident Evil: Retribution, which hits theaters this month.
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Michelle Rodriguez maintains her tough-girl reputation in this month’s Resident Evil: Retribution.

If you need a beautiful woman to bend steel with her bare hands, change the course of mighty rivers or stop a bullet dead in its tracks, you need look no further than Michelle Rodriguez. On the big screen, she’s fought alongside the Na’vi in Avatar, put the pedal to the metal in the Fast and the Furious franchise and fended off zombies in the Resident Evil series (the new installment, Resident Evil: Retribution, is out this month). The 34-year-old actress is nobody’s fool, relishing the opportunity to play action hero while waiting for the perfect leading role to come along. Outspoken, witty and wise, Rodriguez talked to American Way about women in film and her big-budget résumé.

American Way: Why do you think strong women have it so bad in movies today?
Michelle Rodriguez: The people that are writing movies today just don’t know what to do with a strong chick. The last 13 years, I’ve found myself pretty much making up my characters as I go. I take the script as written like a piece of clay, and I mold another, stronger creature. I never blame the writers. It’s not their job. It’s our duty as women to step up and write our own strong women. It is getting better, though. Look at Hunger Games and Snow White and Resident Evil. We’re getting there.

AW: After your breakout performance in 2000’s Girlfight, critics believed you could do anything you wanted, yet you’ve stuck, almost without exception, to action movies.
MR: I know, I know. I get this flack from my friends too. “Why are you doing all of [these] popcorn action things? You’re so talented.” I have the opportunity to connect with millions of people all at once in movies like Fast Five and Resident Evil. Why would I sidestep that and do an indie movie where I reach five people — unless it’s something that completely touches my heart?  I’m just finding the right project.

AW: So, another Resident Evil flick. Why are we so obsessed with zombies?
MR: I think we crave this idea of cataclysm and doomsday. Maybe we innately hate ourselves. I think Resident Evil touches on a very fine subject: the idea that different governments from around the world are interested in biological warfare. I don’t know that it would take too much for the world to tip into a Resident Evil situation.

AW: If a zombie apocalypse does happen, I hope I’m living close to you.
MR: I’m going to Jim Cameron’s house. He’s got, like, a bomb shelter over there. I’m sure I could come up with some way to make myself useful.