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Here’s Why Zoe Saldaña Wanted Her Character In The Animated Film “Missing Link” To Speak Spanish When She Was Angry

Zoe Saldaña is back on the big screen. The Dominican-Puerto Rican actress, known for portraying strong women, is staying on theme, this time as the character Adelina Fortnight in the animated stop-motion feature Missing Link.

The film, which was written and directed by storyboard artist and filmmaker Chris Butler, follows a Sasquatch named Mr. Link, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, who seeks the help of adventurer Lionel Frost, played by Hugh Jackman, in a quest to find his long-lost relatives, the yeti, in Shangri-La. The duo is later joined by Adelina, who is mourning the death of her late husband, and accompanies the men in an effort to fulfill a mission he couldn’t achieve. During the trek, however, she ultimately accomplishes something greater: finding herself.

“Adelina is a very responsible individual who has had to start over a couple of times in her life. [She’s] now finding herself in a place where she needs a change. She needs to do something that makes her feel purposeful,” Saldaña, 40, told Newsweek of her character.  “She embarks on this adventure with these two characters and ends up really walking away with the answer she’s really looking for, which is her own independence. She needs to be completely independent for her to feel complete happiness.”

For the Guardians of the Galaxy actress, Adelina — an immigrant of Latin American descent, though the writers do not detail which country she is from — reminds her of the strong and powerful women that raised her. There’s a scene in the movie where the character stands up for Mr. Link when he is being bullied by Frost, behavior that evokes memories of Saldaña’s female relatives.

“Adelina reminds me so much of all the women that raised me. It’s true! They’re dutiful and have a sense of justice. They never stop and they’re very determined, but also they have a soft spot for underdogs. I like that about her,” she said.

But the character is like her family in another way: she’s bilingual, and tends to speak Spanish when she’s angry.

According to an interview with Remezcla, Butler said Saldaña chose to have her character switch to her native tongue when she became irate with one of her journey mates, usually Frost.

“I would ask Zoe, ‘If you were really that angry at this guy, what would you say?’ All I asked for was no swearing, and so she’d just come up with a few different versions,” Butler told the Latinx news site. “I think it was informed by her family as well, certain conversations with her grandma and her mother. She brought some of that into the character, too.”

Saldaña, whose only role fully in Spanish was in the 2005 Dominican film La Maldición del Padre Cardona, wanted to offer a realistic representation that young children in the US could relate to, especially her own kids, Bowie, 4, Cy, 4, and Zen, 2.

She was also eager to work with Laika, the stop-motion studio behind the film, hoping to ensure the “exquisite,” as she describes it, style sustains.

Missing Link is currently in theaters. The A-list actress’s next big-screen film is Avengers: Endgame, with Sandaña reprising her part as Gamora later this month.

Read: Zoe Saldana Just Got A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame Making Her The Sixteenth Latina In History To Earn One

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