Feature

Rodriguez’s authentic toughness

Michelle Rodriguez is a badass in real life as well as in her movies.

Michelle Rodriguez is a badass in real life as well as in her movies, said Sara Vilkomerson in Entertainment Weekly. Part Dominican and part Puerto Rican, the action star was raised by her grandmother in a rough part of Jersey City. “That’s where I learned to curse,” she says. A wild child from the start, Rodriguez got her wake-up call when her best friend landed in jail after a particularly excessive night of partying. “I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to be a lowlife.’” So she hopped a train to New York to audition for Girlfight, the film that launched her career. “I walked into the room and told them the truth. ‘Never graduated high school, never been to school for acting—but I can beat girls up, and you want a boxer.’” Rodriguez’s toughness would come in handy when she encountered creeps in the industry. At a wrap party when she was 22, Rodriguez gave one producer quite a surprise after he pinned her against a wall and began fondling her. “Well, get this,” she says. “This girl from Jersey City has a knife in her boot. I pulled it out and said, ‘I’ll cut your d--- off.’ You know what he did? He laughed at me.” But he never tried anything with her again.

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