By George Rose
November 18, 2009
Speaking of Center Stage, she starred in the ballerina saga alongside a bunch of nobodies. Granted, she was a nobody back then too, but the movie's only stars at the time were Peter Gallagher (oh, how I miss The O.C.) and Mandy Moore (who only performs on the soundtrack). Considering this is a professional dance movie, and not the kind that only requires gyrating and hip-hop beats (Step Up, You Got Served, etc), very few recognizable faces could be used. I'm sure it was super duper hard for Channing Tatum to learn how to shake his hips to some rap music in Step Up (which any white boy can do with moderate effort and no inhibitions), but try inching across an entire stage on your tippy-toes while still dancing gracefully from the waist up. Zoe did it. Or at least her stunt double did. Regardless, she does some of her own dancing and it's darn impressive. Half angel, half devil; Zoe brings elegance and a red-hot attitude to her role as Eva, best friend and roommate to the real main character (some emo white girl, but who cares).
The movie is really just a dramatization (or not) of what goes on behind the scenes at a prestigious dance academy. There's girls whose feet aren't the idea of perfection, there's eating disorders, sprained ankles, romances, rebelling, sadness, crying, the grand finale performance, and then a happily ever after. Unless you're a 12-year-old girl or a gay guy, you probably won't like the film (and will probably opt to go see New Moon this week instead, anyway). But if you want to see a rising actress in her early work that shows how naturally gifted she is, rent Center Stage. She was one of three reasons I saw Star Trek (since I hated the franchise growing up, it took J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and Zoe to get me into the theater) and is one of the few reasons I'll pay to see Avatar (I'm a sucker for 3-D IMAX). Since Center Stage, she's also starred in Crossroads, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Terminal, Guess Who, and Vantage Point. Seriously, check her out.
Idle Hands (1999)
The future success of all actresses can't be determined by their earlier work. Zoe Saldana's work had me predicting her breakout year would come much sooner than 2009, because she's gorgeous and talented. The opposite has also been known to happen; the early work of Jessica Alba had me predicting a fate similar to Tara Reid. You know, when a super hottie known for skanky roles as the popular girl in high school goes on to do nothing acclaimed and her career ends before she hits 30. But that didn't happen to Alba. She took her trashy roles in earlier films, got the entire population of prepubescent boys to stop in their tracks and somehow leveraged her popularity into more future roles. Yeah, I'm probably just being cynical. I'm sure she worked really hard for those parts. I just hope she wore knee pads (wink wink).