Actress and model Natalie Martinez speaks to The Knockturnal about her upcoming lead role in the sci-fi thriller “Self/less” during roundtable interviews.
Martinez will play the wife of Ryan Reynolds’ character in the film which explores the risks of AI.
I thought it was kind of fun that your character – even knowing that when he’s not who she thinks he is – she goes and gives him a smooch anyway.
Natalie Martinez: You know what? It is interesting and one of the things we talked about was I don’t think she quite believes it, like imagine I’m telling you “Oh no I’m someone else.” You know what I’m saying? It’s kind of like do you really even believe that? It’s like your husband is right there whether it is or it isn’t — I’ve had people pass away and I’d give anything in the world just to see them in the flesh one more time. You know what I’m saying? I don’t care what form or whatever it is you just want to touch them or feel them again. And I think that’s where that kind of comes from and that kind of secures where she even pulls back and it wasn’t even a thing about intimacy. It was just kind of like that one last time, that one chance to do it again cause even at the end she’s like “my husband”- or I think she says “you’re worse” or “better” or something like that. So I think that part was not necessarily cheating on her husband but it was just that moment of like you’re here again let me just feel you, let me just hug you, let me just touch you.
Yeah that was good and plus he looks like Ryan Reynolds. When you read the script, what made you sign on to this? What was the casting like for you in this film?
Natalie Martinez: I like jobs that are kind of challenging and this had a lot – it was an emotional roller coaster and I always like to push myself and be like “Can I do it?” You know what I’m saying? And it’s kind of fun when I do do it and I feel such a sense of accomplishment. The type of movie it is, like that sci-fi psychological thriller that this is, set in real science so it’s not really that far off. So I kind of like those movies that make you think. You know what I’m saying? Like would you? How could you? Like this could really – and those kinds of movies that just spark up conversations and it was a really interesting script. And then the people working behind it, I mean we have such a talented cast and crew that was just pretty amazing. But it was just really interesting.
Well what was more torturous or exhausting for you, the emotional aspect or having to be under a house because it’s on fire?
Natalie Martinez:: That’s the funnest part for me. I mean literally if I could show you the reason why I wear pants suits are the constant bruises all over my legs. Literally all I do is fight. I do Muay Thai and I box and I’m very active so if you tell me to roll over in a house when there’s guns shooting at you and there’s fire and explosions I’m like “I’m down. I’m so down.” That’s actually the easiest part of my job and the funnest part of my job. I love action roles so what’s more exhausting is crying cause it really has to come from somewhere. It’s not just like “Oh put tears in your eyes.” You know what I’m saying? Cause that works for certain little things here and there but when you have to cry and go through a scene and really kind of expend yourself it really takes a lot. I mean by the end of the day I’m just like – I can’t even open my eyes. I just want ice cream. I don’t want to talk to anybody.
Are you still working with an acting coach? How do you prepare for these kinds of roles when you do have to take it there emotionally?
Natalie Martinez: I don’t work with an acting coach anymore. I mean basically when I have auditions and I have certain things my boyfriend and I just go over the lines and talk about certain things. My boyfriend’s my acting coach – I’ve booked like four or five movies since I’ve been with him so I’m like – I’m going to keep him around. Yeah I’m going to keep him around for a little bit. But no I have certain things I do, depends on the role. I mean luckily I’ve worked with great people so the director or the actors or both together have helped me kind of pull that out. The writing alone too depending on the scene and what it’s like. But I have a whole filing cabinet of videos and voice messages and letters and memories and I’ll just pick a pile and be like “oh that makes me feel emotional today.” Whether it be like dead puppies or heroes from the military coming back home, to Coldplay Parachutes. There’s a million and one things that make me cry.
How was it working with Ryan? He’s super experienced.
Natalie Martinez: He is! He said how many movies he’s been in and it was some crazy ass number and I was just like “wow.” Cause he really has been, I think, in over a hundred films. He’s worked forever and it was kind of fun and interesting. And it made everything kind of easy. I’ve been very fortunate to not have experienced those Hollywood drama diva crazy people on set. I’ve never experienced someone who’s like thrown a fit or made it worse or harder for another actor. So I’ve been kind of fortunate. He was really funny and great and very sweet and nice. It was cool.
He’s got Deadpool coming up. Are you going to go see that?
Natalie Martinez: No! I auditioned for it. I wanted Deadpool so bad. I think … two just being another love interest again it was kind of a little – we would’ve been the Meg Ryan/Billy Crystal…
Is there any superhero you’d want to play? Are you a comic book fan at all?
Natalie Martinez: Hell yeah! Hell yeah. I want to play Princess Kitana, Mortal Combat. I’m a fighter, you have to remember. I’m doing a show now called Kingdom and I play an MMA fighter so I’m going to fight in the ring… in a couple of episodes which I’m really excited about. Chung Lee is literally my go-to for everything. I think I’m her every year and even off-Halloween almost. I think one of the other years I was Michelle Obama dressed as Chung Lee for Halloween. I was like mixing things up so … I think I have four Chung Lee costumes. But I dig those kinds of heroes. I think Superwoman’s always been something I obviously looked up to, but I actually want to come up with some Latin fiery superhero chick. You know what I’m saying? Some crazy girl that dances in the night and then flies away and saves the world.
If you could do the whole Self/less moment and come back as somebody who would you come back as? But now I know it’s Chung Lee.
Natalie Martinez: Yeah it’s Chung Lee. I want to come back as Chung Lee.
But would you want to do that? Would you roll back the years and come back as someone younger? Would you come back as a college student?
Natalie Martinez: There is so much I need to go through right now. I do not need to do this twice. And I’m just really happy right now in the position I’m in. I feel like this is a situation where perhaps I feel like it isn’t greener on the other side. Do you know what I’m saying? I’m happy and content. I feel like you’re given that chance. This is your chance you are given. So live it up to the fullest and live life. And do everything it is that you’ve ever thought of or imagined. And then the finish line, just figure it out, you know? But I was thinking about that, the first thing that comes to my mind was that everyone else is going to die and what? You’re going to stay alive? Like yeah I’ll be a robot but like I can’t give you a high five and feel it. You know what I’m saying? None of those things interest me. You know? I’m kind of really content and happy and I want to stick this one through. If anything I think it’d be kind of interesting to see life in some other gender. Like I’ve had my trials and tribulations and amazing times as a woman. Like I want to figure out what those are equally for a man. You know? That would be kind of interesting.
Cool. Now with your Cuban-American background do you have any desire to go visit the homeland?
Natalie Martinez: I have been. I have my great grandmother still there so I still have a lot of family there and just to research. My great grandmother is a hundred. She’s going to be a hundred and one this year. So I really wanted to go and see her and meet her. I actually have a huge family up there and it’s crazy the moment I step foot there, the moment I was there – it’s one of those things – I’ve never been to jail but I can imagine what being away for so long and finally coming back home felt like. You know? And it’s so crazy I’m meeting my great grandmother for the first time and it was just instant connection, like family. Do you know what I’m saying? And seeing how they are and seeing the land. And seeing my culture, my people. It’s just made so much more sense. Like my ass made so much sense. I’m like “Oh I get it. We’re all like bigger on the bottom, smaller on the top.” Like I get it. It made sense. Also I’m from Miami and it’s a very highly populated Cuban community. I mean we are little Havana literally. But it was just nice to go back and see where I’m from and my culture. And see what my people go through. It was actually kind of an eye-opener to see what they live like.
You were talking about culture. This is a very diverse production. Does it feel different for you when you go to a set like this one and you see different people from different ethnic backgrounds as opposed to going to a production where everybody’s white except you?
Natalie Martinez: Oh a hundred percent. A hundred percent. Nowadays though in Hollywood, I feel like it’s so mixed, it’s beautiful. It’s great you know. Cause look the last three roles I played. Yeah I just happen to be Spanish. It’s not like “You’re Spanish. Have an accent, walk like this, talk like this. Say something in Spanish.” I’m not a poodle anymore that makes the tricks for you. And I feel like that’s changed with all ethnicities. You know like ABC has African-American women leading shows that just happen to be black. It has nothing to do with who they are or what they are. They’re professors, they’re the president of the United States. You know what I’m saying? Same thing with Latins. We’re not housekeepers anymore. We’re not gardeners. Everything’s kind of changed. And I really do feel that but it’s so funny that I’ve been on sets that have been so … I was working on a Spanish network for Robert Rodriguez and I did Matador. And that was like a whole other world because everyone was Spanish. It was just louder. You could definitely tell the difference. I think nowadays it’s such a beautiful world we’re living in that I don’t think race, gender, ethnicity matter anymore. I just think if you’re qualified for the job and you can pull it off and people believe it, you got it.
The way they’re debating can Spiderman be black or white.
Natalie Martinez: Yeah I mean it is what it is. I think it’s a beautiful thing though because we are all one. You know what I’m saying? I don’t feel like it’s about the color anymore. It’s not about any of that. If you’re still on that homie you need to f— grow up. It’s such a mixed world now and it’s just about the quality of people – If you’re a good person no matter what color or race you are – I think if you’re a bad person, you’re a bad person. Period. You know what I’m saying? So I think with acting we’ve kind of broken that and we’ve seen – we’ve acknowledged other cultures. Like Spanish people don’t just watch Spanish television and we’ve seen that with the numbers with Fast and Furious. End of Watch had over forty five percent … And that made us number one the first weekend … That was one of my favorite ones. And we’re starting to realize that everyone goes to the movies. It’s not a gender or a race or a certain person.
Chasity Saunders contributed reporting.