We gave it an A-
Rodriguez strutted in late to an open casting call and stole her first starring role — heck, her first speaking role — from some 350 other women. ”It’s insane,” the 22 year old remembers. ”I didn’t have a résumé or anything. I was so unprepared. I walked in very pessimistic, and it all turned out for the better.” Indeed, filmmaker Kusama saw in Rodriguez the roughness necessary to play Diana Guzman, a brooding, hard wired teen from the Brooklyn projects who discovers grace and order in boxing.
Just as important, Rodriguez had the brio to bulk up — and get beaten up — over more than four months of training. The results were impressive, if a little shocking. ”When I saw myself on [screen] working the speed bag, I said, ‘Oh my God, I look like I’m on steroids!”’ Rodriguez laughs. ”I didn’t even think it was my body. I didn’t know my ears were that small.” GOOD SIGN Kusama’s first feature snagged her a best director award and shared the Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic film at this year’s Sundance fest. THEN AGAIN Women’s sports flicks often suffer first round knockouts at the box office.