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The Untold Truth Of Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez is best known for playing fiery gearhead Letty in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but her life away from the cameras has been just as action-packed as any of those movies. The Texas-born, Jersey-raised star has never been afraid to tell it like it is, and while this attitude has largely worked in her favor, it's also landed her in hot water on occasion. 

"I do what I want, when I want, how I want," Rodriguez has said, and looking back on her turbulent path to stardom, she really wasn't kidding. From her whirlwind start in the business to the question marks surrounding her sexuality, this is the untold truth of Michelle Rodriguez.

Michelle Rodriguez jumped in at the deep end

Michelle Rodriguez made her debut starring in writer-director Karyn Kusama's 2000 feature debut Girlfight, an intense indie drama about an underprivileged young woman trying to make it in the world of boxing. She had zero experience when she went for the role, but her attitude was enough to secure the part. "I told them I had no acting experience but could kick every girl's ass in the room and wasn't afraid of cameras," she later told The Sun.

The film was well received by critics and hailed as a breakthrough vehicle for Rodriguez, but she quickly saw the downside of stardom. "I don't like it," she told Hollywood.com. "It makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't think it's genuine the majority of the time. It doesn't make me feel that great. I mean, I take a dump just like you do, it's all the same. I don't get the point of it all."

Not long after the release of the film, Rodriguez was arrested on assault charges after an altercation with her roommate spilled into the street outside their New Jersey apartment. According to an E! News report from 2002, Rodriguez yelled, "I'm going to beat you up if you don't leave," though her roomie (who allegedly gave as good as she got, biting Rodriquez on the arm) is said to have refused to take the matter further in court.

Michelle Rodriguez has spent time behind bars

While the assault charges didn't stick, Michelle Rodriguez would later end up behind bars due to her erratic behavior behind the wheel. The Fast and the Furious star has been in trouble with the law over her driving on numerous occasions, starting in 2004, when she appeared in a Los Angeles court over three misdemeanors—driving with a suspended license, driving under the influence, and a hit and run. Rodriguez pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail as well as community service. According to EW, she was ordered to work at a local morgue to pay her debt to society.

Rodriguez was busted for another DUI in 2006 while filming Lost in Hawaii. According to a CBS report from that year, she was found to be more than twice over the legal limit when stopped by officers and was given the option of 240 hours community service or five days in jail. She chose the latter, and her character was killed off soon after—though Lost's creators later claimed that was always their intention.

Rodriguez wound up back behind bars in 2008 after she violated her probation and was slapped with a 180-day jail term. In the end, she only served 18 days before she was released due to overcrowding—the second time she'd gotten out of prison having only served a fraction of her sentence, according to Today.

Michelle Rodriguez wants to be a director

Despite being an established star, Michelle Rodriguez is only halfway to achieving her true goal in Tinseltown. In 2003, she admitted that acting was just "a step" towards her ultimate endgame, which involves her stepping behind the cameras. "I want to write and direct," she told her S.W.A.T co-star Olivier Martinez in a candid interview. "I figured the best way to go about it would be to start at the bottom and work my way up from actor to producer to director."

Rodriguez added that she's learned from every director she'd been hired by, and added that working under Girlfight helmer Karyn Kusama taught her some valuable lessons in filmmaking. Explaining that she wants more creative control over her own career, she equated acting with playing chess. "As an actress, I could be anybody in the game," she pointed out. "I could be a king, a queen, and I get to choose who controls me, what player. But I think I want to be the player."

Michelle Rodriguez is sick of being stereotyped

Since making her debut with Girlfight, Michelle Rodriguez has been typecast as the rough-and-ready type—something she's used to her advantage by carving out a niche as one of the industry's top female action stars. She still maintains, however, that she has plenty to offer outside of car chases and gunfights. "I haven't even begun to play," she said in 2003. "They don't let me. They look at me and say 'tough girl.'"

Rodriguez only had six movies on her résumé at that point, though she was confident that her personal life had given her all the experience she needed in order to take on a wider variety of roles. "Nobody is there when I'm talking to my friends," she continued. "The public who sees my movies isn't watching me having sex on my bed. They don't know what dimensions I have as a person. It's easy for me to bring that to the screen, but the hard part is finding a script with substance enough to portray that side of me."

The actress has also spoken of the difficulties that come with being one of the few Latina stars in Hollywood. "People don't like talking about it, but if you're Spanish, you feel a weight," she told fellow actress Milla Jovovich for Interview magazine. "I don't have much history—I've got Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, Rita Moreno. That's it... I'm like, 'Well, damn, that means that I have to carry a flag.'"

Michelle Rodriguez used to write erotic short stories

Michelle Rodriguez also told Jovovich that she's held ambitions of becoming a writer for many years, a passion that began in her youth when she'd pen short stories. "Some of them were erotic stories," she admitted when Jovovich questioned her. "That was my hobby. I just loved storytelling. That's what I thought I would end up doing." She's still writing today, though it's remained little more than a hobby.

She described one movie script she'd been working on as "Jurassic Park-ish meets Jumanji," a story Rodriguez first conceived at the age of 15. "It's evolved to be about these four kids who are hackers and activists," she explained. "Long story short, there's a séance in the middle of the rainforest in South America with about 800 tribes getting together, and it causes all the animals to start attacking anything that's not pure."

While promoting 2013's Fast and Furious 6 in the Philippines, Rodriguez gave PEP details of two other scripts she was penning—one about drug use around the world, and the other about a secret society of women hidden since the 1400s. Although she's yet to find a studio willing to back any of these ideas, as she sees it, "It's just a matter of just getting more female writers in the business."

Her Jehovah's Witness upbringing 'scarred' Michelle Rodriguez

Although Michelle Rodriguez might not come across as someone who had a strict religious upbringing, faith was a huge part of her childhood, and her Dominican mother's beliefs meant she was staunchly against her daughter pursuing her dreams in the film industry. "My mom's a Jehovah's Witness, so she wasn't too happy," Rodriguez said. "It was more along the lines of 'They're using you.' I'm part of the devil's tool." The Avatar actress later said that the experience of being raised Jehovah's Witness "scarred [her] for life."

She's talked openly about how she had to go door-to-door in her neighborhood promoting the religion, which led to a few awkward encounters with classmates. "I was a Jehovah's Witness from the age of seven and my family was very strict," she told the Daily Mail while promoting Battle: Los Angeles in 2011. "I went to church every day, and I'd go knocking on people's doors with my grandma trying to save their souls. Sometimes the person who answered the door would be a friend from school who knew that I cursed and swore, and there I was in a dress holding a Bible. I'd say, 'Grandma, please not this house.'"

Michelle Rodriguez was an Army Brat

While her mother and maternal grandmother lived by the rules of their strict faith, her father was "more the intellectual type" according to Michelle Rodriguez; as she later put it, "I was split in two, kind of like a brain." Her mom and dad would eventually split in two as well, with her Puerto Rican father deciding to concentrate on his career in the U.S. Army. Rodriguez moved around a lot after the divorce, and all the upheaval left her feeling like an outsider no matter where she ended up.

"I never liked not fitting in, especially moving around so much as a kid because I was an Army brat," she said. "I spent the beginning of my life in Texas, and then my parents got divorced and I went to the Dominican Republic, learned Spanish, forgot every word of English I knew, and then, when I was about 11, 12, we moved to Jersey City. Everywhere I go I'm an outsider." Having to regularly uproot her life and start over forced Rodriguez to toughen up, and she used that toughness to deal with bullies every time she arrived at a new school. "I had older brothers who would pick on me," she later explained, "and injustice always boiled my blood."

The rumors about her sexuality

Michelle Rodriguez has been getting quizzed about her sexuality for the majority of her adult life, and not just in gossip columns. According to The Sun, one of her older twin brothers once told her that people were going to start thinking she was a lesbian if she didn't stop dressing so butch. "I was never the Barbie doll type," the actress told the British tabloid. "I would wear jeans and button-down shirts, sit with my legs open and be vulgar and drink beer."

In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Rodriguez was asked if she thought it was possible to be openly lesbian in Hollywood. "You can be bi but not gay," she answered. "Well, you can be gay and funny, like Ellen [DeGeneres] and Rosie [O'Donnell]. It's really hard to be straight-up gay and serious. We're still not over that." While she didn't actually refer to herself as bisexual in that interview, she confirmed it in typical fashion in 2013.

"They assume I'm a lesbo," Rodriguez said while discussing media speculation over her sexual preference with EW. "Eh, they're not too far off. I've gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f****** curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks."

Michelle Rodriguez turned down a Muslim marriage

Michelle Rodriguez has been romantically linked to her Fast and the Furious co-star Vin Diesel and her S.W.A.T co-star Olivier Martinez in the past, and has also been pictured getting cozy with Zac Efron and Cara Delevingne. None of these supposed relationships lasted long enough to become something serious, though Rodriguez has actually been proposed to once before. The problem was that her boyfriend at the time wanted her to adopt an Islamic lifestyle.

"I was once proposed to by a boyfriend who was Muslim," the actress is quoted as saying by The Sun. "He was like: 'I want you to marry me and I want you to cover your body and show nothing but your eyes.' The attitude was that my body was for his pleasure alone and he was very demanding. I finally said: 'Sorry, no one rules me. I rule myself.'"

The actress has described herself as a "lone wolf" when discussing her love life, telling Interview that she has issues with forming long-lasting relationships and is scared by the idea of starting a family. "I run by myself on most things. I've got lots of really great friends, but the thought of being in a long-lasting relationship? Psh, I couldn't last more than six months with somebody, let alone have a father figure around for a kid."

Paul Walker's death hit her hard

While much was made of the real-life friendship between Fast and the Furious stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, Rodriguez also grew close to the late Walker in the years before he was sadly killed in a horrific road accident. She was visibly irritated when a TMZ reporter approached her at LAX to ask about Scott Eastwood filling Walker's role in future Fast and the Furious installments, retorting, "Nobody will ever, as long as I live, fill that role. Understand that?"

Rodriguez, who starred alongside Walker in four Fast and the Furious films, revealed in an interview with EW that she spent a year trying to ignore her feelings over the loss, traveling and partying to keep her mind occupied. She elaborated on that lost year in The Reality of Truth, a documentary promoting the benefits of self-medicating with psychedelics.

"When I lost Paul I went through about a year of being just, like, an animal," she said. "Like, what could I do physically to just get my mind off of existentialism and get my mind off how transient life is and how we just come here and can disappear at any moment. I did everything I could possibly do to hide from myself. My ayahuasca [a hallucinogenic brew used in spiritual healing] trip made me sad that he left me here. It wasn't a sadness that he's gone, it's more like a jealousy that he's there first."