"Alita: Battle Angel" star Rosa Salazar has a message for politicians who want to build walls.
"We're here to stay, baby," she says. “No wall going to keep us out.”
Salazar realizes starring in “Alita” comes with a responsibility. "Just being a Latinx actress at the helm of something like this in itself is a message," she told Variety at the movie's premiere on Tuesday in Westwood, Calif. “You know I carry my name with me wherever I go. I'm Rosa Bianca Salazar, and… this is the next wave of Latino casting. ”
In the movie, Salazar plays the titular Alita, a butt-kicking cyborg who awakens in the year 2563 only to find herself amid the complicated futuristic setting of Iron City. There, she has to learn to navigate a pumped-up roller derby sporting league while dealing with issues related to cyborg bounty hunting.
Producer James Cameron was also in attendance Tuesday night, although the longtime director says he was able to enjoy the premiere in a way that was different than any of his films. Despite working on "Alita: Battle Angle" for 20 years, Cameron took a back seat on the project after handing over the film's reigns to director Robert Rodriguez in an effort to focus on the sequels to "Avatar."
"When I watch a movie that is directed, it takes 10 years before I can really watch the child or as an audience member," he says. “I could watch 'Alita' all day long… especially when I sit next to [Rosa] because she laughs and whoops through the whole movie.”
Rodriguez said taking on the Cameron legacy gave him a taste for the big budget blockbusters that Cameron has become so well known for. Though Rodriguez is known for turning tiny budgets into a movie magic – he jokes that the $ 200 million film would cost twice as much if Cameron had directed it – he says there is something special in creating images that cannot be captured.
I always wondered why [Cameron] didn't do more realistic stuff again… He was making more and more fantasy with special effects, and now I see why, ”he says. "Some of these images, you can't even see unless you are dreaming."
Also in attendance was a host of cast members, including Jennifer Connelly Christoph Waltz Ed Skrein Johnson, and Lana Condor as well as singer Dua Lipa and "Machete" actor Danny Trejo
“Alita: Battle Angel” hits theaters Feb 14.