Zoe Saldana is going to be very, very busy for the foreseeable future, and it’s almost all sci-fi. Guardians of the Galaxy hit big at the box office this weekend, and now that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 already has the green light from Marvel, this brings the running tally of big-time franchises she stars in up to three. There’s also Star Trek and a little thing called Avatar to contend with, and every last one of them has sequels on the docket. Avatar actually has three in the works, and Saldana recently indicated that those films could begin production soon.
Vulture caught up with the star, who plays the badass green assassin Gamora, at a recent Guardians showing, and asked about her schedule coming up. Though full, she seems excited about it, and it sounds like she’s just waiting for word and she’ll paint herself blue and return to the distant world of Pandora. She says:
I do know that Avatar is coming first. It’s been the one in line for a while now, and we’re just waiting for Jim [Cameron] to give us the green light so it can happen early next year. My backpack is ready!
What this means in reality is that Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 are up next, since director James Cameron plans to shoot all three back to back to back. That’s assuming that her character Neytiri doesn’t get killed off, but considering that she’s one of the headliners, and the fact that Cameron isn’t shy about bringing characters back (Sigourney Weaver is coming back in some capacity), despite the fact that her character dies in the first film.
Avatar 2 is scheduled for release in December 2016, with one to follow in 2017, and another in 2018. Considering the intense level of special effects, and the fact that most of the main characters will be motion captured for most of films, there is bound to be an extensive post-production schedule. Cameron assembled three different teams of writers and collaborated with all of them on the respective scripts, and all of this taken together is going to be one hell of an undertaking. But if these films perform like the first, the highest grossing film in history, it will be worth it.
Theoretically, Star Trek 3 will film next for Saldana, but at this point we’re not sure. Paramount was originally making noises about getting the movie into theaters by 2016, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the beloved franchise, but that’s getting less and less likely as we go. Roberto Orci was largely considered a shoo-in for the directing job—which would be his first—a few months back, but recent word is that the studio hasn’t zeroed in on a replacement for J.J. Abrams just yet. Uhura doesn’t have the biggest role in these films up to now, so it’s possible that Saldana may not need to be on set for the entire time.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was green-lit before the first even opened, and is already slated for a July 18, 2017 release. That would appear to be the last in line for Saldana, at least for the time being. Perhaps scheduling conflicts will lead to her having to relinquish one of these continuing roles. If that happens, our money is on Uhura. But until then she’ll still have plenty to do, appearing in both the silly-named indie Infinitely Polar Bear and the Nina Simone biopic Nina later this year.