Zoe Saldana, star and co-producer of NBC’s upcoming Rosemary’s Baby miniseries, is well aware that fans of Roman Polanski’s original 1968 big-screen horror flick may consider her update the devil’s work.
She’s OK with it.
“I don’t want to turn down good material just because I’m afraid of what others might think. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it,” she good-naturedly tells reporters at a press event in New York, shrugging as if to say what can you do?. “Go back to your classic. It’s always going to be there.”
If the actress — whose films include Center Stage, Star Trek and Avatar – seems self-assured about the two-part “retelling” of the scary tale, it’s likely because she had a say in virtually every aspect of the project, from how Rosemary’s shorn locks would look (“I didn’t want to touch what [original Rosemary ingénue] Mia [Farrow] did”) to how old her on-screen husband would be (“I don’t like old men, so I wasn’t going to do that,” she jokes).
Read on for some hellishly tantalizing tidbits about the disturbing TV flick, which premieres Sunday (Mother’s Day!) at 9/8c.
OOH LA LA | Both the 1968 film and the Ira Levin novel on which it was based are set in New York; NBC’s version takes the action to Paris. Production, helmed by director Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa, as well as episodes of Treme and The Wire) took place in the City of Lights from January to March of this year.
OLD VS. NEW | Aside from location, this Rosemary closely follows the well-known story: Soon after a young woman and her husband move into a lavish apartment building, she starts to think that her neighbors – and her hubby — have evil plans on her unborn child. However, NBC’s version isn’t afraid to show all. “The whole thing about Roman’s movie was that he left it all to the imagination,” says Saldana, who first saw the flick on TV as a child in Queens, NY. “There was nothing graphic. I think I was a little too young to understand that I needed to left my imagination kinda go. I remember watching, going, ‘What’s in the crib?! Where’s the baby?! I can’t stand it!”
AGE-APPROPRIATE | “I was very adamant about us casting an actor that would be of my age to play my husband,” the actress says. If Rosemary were married to a professor many years her senior, “it would be easy for him to sell her out, as opposed to having them being this young, vibrant, starry-eyed couple together coming into an ancient world of lust and malice.” The result was Suits‘ Patrick J. Adams taking on the role of Guy, a university prof and aspiring novelist who might just go a little too far to achieve his dream of fame. Adams “delivered an amazing Guy who is strong and who keeps giving you all these different layers,” she says.
HAIR APPARENT | Farrow famously chopped her own long locks into a pixie cut as Rosemary went through her very trying pregnancy. “I loved it,” Saldana says of the transformation, quickly adding, “I wasn’t gonna do it.” Instead, she donned a wig and focused on her character’s plight, which includes withstanding some truly gross side effects as the baby inside her matures. “‘Let me try to look beautiful for my husband. I don’t want him not to find me attractive.’ That’s where I was coming from,'” she says.
DOING HER HOMEWORK | To get into her beleaguered character’s head, “I became an active blog reader of parenting websites,” Saldana says. “It was easy for me to sympathize with a lot of the stories I had heard and symptoms I had read, and just try to channel it.” And what her research left out, co-star Jason Isaacs (Awake) was happy to fill in. He “had more than a lot of advice,” she says, chuckling as she lapses into Isaacs’ British accent. “‘Zoe, I wouldn’t be walking so forward. You are pregnant, dear.'” Fun fact: The chicken livers Rosemary ingests during one low prenatal point were actually a hard gelatin/corn syrup hybrid that Saldana had a little trouble choking down. “I would go bananas,” she says, laughing. “Queens was in the house.”