Rosa Salazar stars in the title role of Alita in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, a cyberpunk film produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau. It is based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Gunnm. Salazar’s character is a cybernetic being who is given a new body by Christoph Waltz’s Dr Ido. The film is mostly Alita trying to rediscover her memories.
The look of the character is that of an anime character and Salazar has performed using motion-capture technology.
Rosa Salazar says one of the reasons she did this film was to experience motion-capture technology herself. “I wanted to do performance capture because I love acting. And I love finding new ways that I can bend my craft and use it to funnel it towards this goal we’re all trying to create.”
She adds, “So it was a combination of things that appealed: the writing, the pedigree, these two guys (Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron) that know how to direct a woman who is dynamic, has a range and is fighting for something. All of that’s compelling to me. Even the studio I was at – I’ve worked with Fox for so long that I love them. So, it was everything really: the stars aligned for this. And I really wanted to be a Latin woman who is leading a studio franchise with a big budget. Just to show that you can be a Latin woman leading a huge budget studio film.”
She also said while one must exaggerate facial muscles to get the requisite expressions on to the character’s visage, motion-capture acting is not so different from normal acting. “If you’re doing, say, a fight scene and you’re stabbing and you want it to be in the character’s face, you may have to kind of exaggerate those moments. But other than that, it’s really just acting with all of this other world of stuff going on,” she says.
Alita: Battle Angel releases on February 8 in India.