I interviewed Rosa Salazar, star of Alita: Battle Angel and now the new Amazon series Undone, for a Playboy.com feature earlier this year. The exuberant action star and I chatted about many different topics over the course of our 90-minute conversation. Something that did not make it into our extensive Playboy interview was her secret cameo in the film. She wanted her normal looking self, seen only briefly during a tracking shot during a chase sequence between Hugo and the murderous hunter-warrior Zapan, to appear in a film where her CG-enhanced eyes made her (as Alita) look different.
“I hung out on set even when I wasn’t working, which was like five days here and there,” Salazar told me. “But I always wanted to be on set. I’m so tied to [director] Robert [Rodriguez] and the cast and the people and the process, and I wanted to be in Iron City as much as possible because it’s so fucking cool. It’s a scene where a stunt double for the character of Hugo goes running through the city. The stunt guy is doing parcour through this one little portico area, with bystanders on the streets and milling about the town. I said, ‘Can I be an extra in this scene? They won’t even know it’s me. I’ll dress down, I’ll put on a leather jacket. I put my hair up and I’ll just lean on this column and talked to this lady and this other extra.’ Robert is so cool. He was like, ‘Of course!’ He’s always down. The wardrobe lady was like, ‘Here’s a jacket here, here’s jeans, here’s a t-shirt, go for it.’ So I literally got to be an extra in my own film.”
Salazar learned about how hard extras work. Although she corrected herself and said “background actors”. “They are standing there all day and all night,” she said. “I got to admit, after awhile I was like, ‘My feet hurt. Can I exit?’ They’re like, ‘No, you’re part of the scene now. That’s how it works.’ It was actually pretty hard, I have to say. My drummer, my inner [air] drummer came out where I’m like, I’ve got to do something [to pass the time].”The spunky actor also told me about how producer Jon Landau was the king of on-set pranks. The actor herself loves to prank people.
“You know what, I was out pranked by Jon Landau,” admitted Salazar. “Jon Landau is the number one prankster on any set. You don’t even try to prank because he is already doing it. For Halloween, were shooting on Iron City on the back lot. It’s 97,000 square feet of actual city, so you’re immersed in this world. We’re shooting very emotional scenes, and Jon Landau shows up on Halloween morning in a full hot dog in a bun costume. And we’re like, ‘Oh ha ha, Jon, you’re so funny.’ Then he proceeds to wear it for the next 17 hours. All day. It just keeps getting funnier and funnier. You’re walking by a piece of the set and Jon’s on the phone doing business in this wiener costume. Is he gonna take it off soon? And then by the end of the day he’s like accidentally walking into a shot, you know, this big wiener walking by. By the end of the day it just becomes hilarious. Are you going to take it off?
“What’s even funnier,” continued Salazar, “is that the following year when he was on the set of Avatar in Manhattan Beach, he wore a banana suit all day. Then he had a picture of himself from the previous year in the wiener costume. And because James Cameron is plant-based, Jon had a picture of himself wearing the wiener costume crossed out saying, ‘We are now plant based.’ He is the prankster. I was busy portraying Alita. I didn’t even have time, but I do like pranks. I do like to jump out from around the corner.”