Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez is back in fighting shape.

The Fast and the Furious star, 32, plays tech sergeant Elena Santos in Battle: Los Angeles, an action movie about a Marine unit battling aliens bent on taking over the earth. The film, which opens Friday, co-stars Michael Peña, who joined her on the red carpet at the Miami premiere at Regal South Beach Monday night.

After encountering blue extraterrestrials in Avatar, the tough Texas wanted to make sure these creatures were on target before she signed on.

“What I wanted to know was, ‘What are these aliens going to look like, and what is the reveal?’” said Rodriguez from The Loews Miami Beach Hotel. “If you have a corny alien., then some corny lines, people are gone.’’

Fortunately, these robot-like spacemen were realistic – disgustingly so.

“The art department did an impeccable job; they were gnarly,’’ said Rodriguez, whose character stands by during a dissection scene. “They were all gooey, very KY Jelly. It was like Silicone Valley in there!’’

Another draw for Rodriguez was getting to work with South African director Jonathan Liebesman ( The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning). Talk about attention to detail.

“I saw his vision – it wasn’t blow-up-every-major-site-in-Los Angeles-type deal,’’ she said. “I was floored by his video game type perspective and intimate storytelling experience.’’

The shoot was grueling, physically and mentally.

“All these techies trained me at the Air Force, telling me about algorithms, electromagnetic frequencies, aerospace,’’ she recalled. “You are going nuts trying to answer these questions.’’

The workouts were intense for the Girlfight star, who “hates’’ exercise.

“Don’t make me run for no reason,’’ she joked. “But once I saw how much back and forth we had to do on set, shot from every angle, I understood why.’’

Another issue – the heavy helmet’s chin guard. “All that dirt and soot gave me breakouts!’’

But Rodriguez would do it all over again. The male-heavy cast bonded big time.

“Me and the boys. I love all of them,’’ she said of her fellow troops. “We’d go out at night to the clubs in Louisiana and felt safer than anybody. I’m with a group of dudes, and we’re all pumped from working out. It’s like, ‘Don’t %&*$ with me!’ You feel invincible.’’

Madeleine Marr


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