Actress Michelle Rodriguez says she can sympathise with her new movie’s lead character, because she was targeted by bullies as a youngster too.
In her new film Milton’s Secret, she plays a teacher mentoring a young bullied student.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Rodriguez said the theme of the movie was something she knew all too well.
After moving to Jersey City, New Jersey at the age of 17, she quickly became an easy target as the outsider among her peers in her rough neighbourhood.
I was bullied as a kid, but I dealt with it a lot differently because I was at a different level growing up in Jersey City. If you didn’t adapt, you die, or parts of your soul would be crushed. People were just really mean in Jersey City. I had to learn to fight really early.”
Milton’s Secret, adapted from the 2008 Eckhart Tolle children’s novel of the same name, also stars Donald Sutherland and opened to mixed reviews at the Vancouver Film Festival last week.
Another of Rodriguez’s films premiered on the film festival circuit this year, the controversial (Re) Assignment, in which she plays a male assassin who is involuntarily given a sex change by a deranged surgeon played by Sigourney Weaver.
It was panned following its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada last month, and has been heavily blasted for using gender-changing surgery as a sensational plot device.
Michelle attempted to defended the storyline and told viewers not to take it seriously because it is a “B-movie noir genre comic book take”.
I’m bisexual. I do guys. I do girls. You can’t really argue with me because I’m you. So if I do a movie, I’d never do a movie with the intention of offending anybody in the LGBT community because I’m a part of it.”
The actress also told her critics to ‘lay off’ after she posted an image of herself in a full beard talking about the role.
Some of the followers commented:
Just because you’re bi, doesn’t make it okay to be a d*ck and mock transgender people.”
You know what makes me want to scream? People turning my identity into some sort of sick joke for the sake of cheap entertainment.”
Rodriguez addressed the pre-released criticism to THR stating:
It’s an action genre film, and we’re not psychological or deep about [being trans], so lay off. It’s an entertainment piece. Calm down, guys. I’m on your team.”
Slated to be released in theatres next year, the film is a proud achievement for the actress, despite the opposition.
She wrote on her post she believes the industry is ‘running low on edgy creativity’ and she expressed her frustration with being bored by ‘the status quo’ by shooting ‘crazy B movie indy.’