Why Michelle Rodriguez of 'Fast & Furious' Typecast Herself: 'I'm Not in it for the Acting'

Usually, actors want to avoid being typecast because it limits their potential income and success in the future. It can also be difficult from a purely creative standpoint to be trapped in a single kind of role when an actor wants to branch out and try new things. Some actors are able to successfully shake the confines of a typecast persona, but many end up spending their entire career playing the same basic part over and over again. 

Michelle Rodriguez, who rose to fame through her performance in The Fast & Furious franchise, is definitely associated with one specific type of character, but she has embraced this identity and even says she planned it that way! 

Michelle Rodriguez rose to fame as Letty

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Rodriguez began her acting career back in 2000 with a part in the film Girlfight, according to IMDb. The very next year, she appeared in her most iconic role as Letty in The Fast the Furious. She would reprise this part in the film’s many sequels: Fast & Furious (2009), Fast and Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), and The Fate of the Furious (2017). Letty is the childhood sweetheart — and eventual wife — of lead character Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel). 

This character typifies the typecast that Rodriguez would go on to face for the rest of her career. Letty is a sexy bad girl who is fiercely loyal to her lover and unafraid to break the rules. She’s witty, hot, and often portrayed as dark and brooding with a sarcastic streak that can sting as much as any slap. Rodriguez would go on to portray similar characters in other films including Machete (2010) and The Assignment (2016). 

Michelle Rodriguez embraces her typecast role

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A Reddit thread poking fun at the consistency in Rodriguez’s character starts out with the quip “Ok Michelle, in this movie you will play the badass chick who holds a gun and doesn’t play by the rules.” Basically, this description could apply to several of Rodriguez’s roles. The fans are laughing about it, but Rodriguez herself seems perfectly fine to play her part. 

According to Hollywood News, she opened up about being typecast, and had this to say: “I was typecast the minute I did a film called Girlfight years ago.” She went on to say, “you allow yourself to be typecast. If I decided I didn’t want to be typecast tomorrow I’d just go do an indie film where I play some poor girl who goes through some excruciating experience and win myself an award for crying or being raped or playing someone with mental illness.” 

A different definition of success drives Michelle Rodriguez

Rodriguez readily admits that she is operating by her own definition of success. “I’m not in it for the acting. If I were in it for the acting then I would be worried about people not giving me the opportunity to express my vast array of emotions on the screen,” Rodriguez explained. Instead, she is aiming for a different kind of achievement. “I only wanna be someone or I respect or someone that I consider interesting or fun. I’m here to entertain people and make a statement about female empowerment and strength and that’s what I’ve done for the last 10 years, and people can call it typecast, but I pigeonholed myself and I put myself in that box for saying no to everything else that came on my plate.”

She says that she turned down roles that left her feeling less empowered. The result? “[E]ventually I just got left with the strong chick that’s always being killed and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Rodriguez insists. 

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