Michelle Rodriguez is back. The very talented young actress had a tough time and bad press from her stint on "Lost" as Ana Lucia, the rough and tumble loner from the "Tailies."
Then, of course, she was arrested for DUI in Hawaii. "Lost" dumped her from the show unceremoniously. She did five days in jail at the end of 2006. Last year she had some potential problems for violation of parole.
But that’s all behind her. Michelle, who made a one-two punch with back-to-back debuts in "Girlfight" and "Fast and the Furious" opens Friday in Stuart Townsend’s "Battle in Seattle." This is a tremendous indie film about the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. Next, she starts in James Cameron’s "Avatar."
And get this: she will reappear as Ana Lucia in newly filmed flashbacks for "Lost." As a devotee of the show, I’m glad to hear it. "Lost" was a little too quick on the trigger getting rid of Ana Lucia.
Wednesday night at the odd little premiere for "Battle in Seattle" here in New York, Michelle looked terrific. We spent a little time catching up. She told me her troubles are behind her. She has the new "Fast and Furious" coming out soon, making three big movies this fall as well as "Lost."
You know what? You can come back in Hollywood if you say you’re sorry.
In "Battle," Michelle plays one of the peaceful protesters who were tear gassed and arrested in Seattle during that infamous WTO meeting. Her love interest in the film is British actor Martin Henderson, also in a forceful performance. Charlize Theron (Townsend’s girlfriend) and Woody Harrelson play a couple touched personally by the violence in the Seattle streets.
This is one of those must-see movies that may be hard to find outside of a few big cities. Originally ThinkFilm agreed to distribute it after "Battle" was shown in Toronto in fall 2007.
But Townsend and his partners smelled a rat and luckily never signed that contract. Since then Think has pretty much ceased to function. "Battle" will be self-distributed by Redwood Palms Films. Its bumpy journey to an actual opening night brought along 19 named producers. That’s a lot!
Rodriguez is not the only reason to see "Battle in Seattle." Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is Townsend. He was launched as the next big thing in 2000. I saw him in London at the Donmar Warehouse opposite Helen Mirren in "Orpheus Descending." From there, stardom looked certain.
Dating Charlize Theron, who was also hot as a pistol, sidetracked his career. So did some bad movie choices. But all along, he tells me, he was planning "Battle." He was motivated to write it after reading about the environment and corporate greed. "When the Seattle protests happened, I saw it as a way to dramatize all these things," he told me.
Wednesday night, actual protesters from the Seattle 1999 events were coming up to Townsend and praising him for getting it all "just right." Indeed, Townsend’s eye is unnervingly keen. He manages to stage large protests and small intimate scenes among his finely drawn characters with equal intensity and originality.
The 35-year-old Irishman is on his way now. "Battle" should pick up some Indie Spirit Award nominations. If HBO picks up the movie, it will get an even wider audience. Teenagers should see it, Townsend agrees. It shows them that peaceful protest was not just something in the distant' 60s and '70s, but recent and meaningful.
And Michelle Rodriguez? She’s not going to get "Lost" again.