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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

'Rosemary's Baby' and The Curious Case of Zoe Saldana's Career

Am I the only one completely in awe of Zoe Saldana's career? Actually, maybe the better word is fascinated. I am fascinated by the trajectory of Saldana's career. Talk about someone who's recently catapulted to the top of the Hollywood food chain acting alongside heavyweights like Christian Bale, especially since the former half of her filmography mainly comprises of her bouncing from one forgettable "pretty girl" role to another. She's proven that she's not afraid to tackle more challenging characters in Avatar and, most notably, the still unreleased Nina Simone biopic, which has already garnered a great deal of social media backlash (her biggest critics cite her lighter skin tone as the main fault in her casting).

But I'm beginning to think that, while Saldana's commitment to these higher profile projects is admirable and I appreciate that she's stretching herself as an actress, Hollywood doesn't know how to utilize her talents. In fact, I think we have yet to see her at her fullest potential. As a result, Saldana is being sought for roles that may be more suitable for other actresses simply because she's likable, pretty and young--not because she is the best actress for the role.  Of course, this scenario isn't just limited to Saldana but for much of Hollywood's starlets *cough* Jennifer Lawrence *cough*, especially those of color.

That being said, let's talk about today's reports that Saldana will headline the NBC miniseries remake of the magnificent 1968 horror classic Rosemary's Baby directed Roman Polanski. Too much? Okay, let's tackle this one point at a time: 1) a Rosemary's Baby directed by Agnieszka Holland from Scott Abbott's script is happening and that's mind-numbing in and of itself, and 2) Saldana will play the role once immortalized by Mia Farrow on the big screen. Take that all in before we go on.

Again, I really like Saldana and hope she knocks it out of the ballpark. But this seems to be yet another example of Hollywood's confusion about her, compounded by the obsession with her image rather than her talent. I think my main issue with her casting is that her acting style is too contemporary for a role like Rosemary (assuming that they won't oversimplify Ira Levin's multi-layered novel and Roman Polanski's marvelous adaptation). I mean, was Jessica Chastain or Nicole Beharie not available?

Perhaps Saldana will completely surprise us and deliver a show-stopping performance in Rosemary (and maybe the movie will earn a bunch of awards). There are, of course, other factors to consider along with her depiction--like whether Abbott will approach Ira Levin's amazing novel without diluting the themes to comply with modern times, and who will play Rosemary's devilish neighbors and formidable husband. Maybe it will all come together nicely. But, for now, I remain cautiously optimistic.

What are your thoughts on the Rosemary's Baby miniseries and newest casting update?


Daniel said...

Saldana's casting was a bit of a surprise, I really didn't think of her being cast in the role and still can't quite place her in it. I hope the mini series is closer to the quality of Hannibal instead of a generic adaptation like say Stephen King's adaptation of The Shining.

Ashlee Blackwell said...

Excellent! I think it's more than fair to be apprehensive for the reasons mentioned. I am myself optimistic as I monitor the bigger picture of a woman of color playing a fore role in a genre related TV series.

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