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Actor Michelle Rodriguez knew what it was like to play action stars after doing a feature like Girlfight. She looked forward to seeing another actor lace up boxing gloves in Clint Eastwood’d Million Dollar Baby. But although she enjoyed the film to a point, she felt it eventually let down her expectations.

What Michelle Rodriguez found disappointing about ‘Million Dollar Baby’

Michelle Rodriguez posing at the premiere of 'Fast X'.
Michelle Rodriguez | Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Warning: Spoilers for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ is in this article

One of the reasons why Rodriguez was excited about seeing Million Dollar Baby was because it reminded her of her very first movie. Rodriguez got her breakthrough role doing Girlfight. There, she played a high school student trying to channel her aggression by becoming a boxer. She noticed the role by checking out Backstage magazine on a whim.

 “Basically I was doing extra work for about a year before that, and I was about to quit because it became monotonous and I wasn’t growing out of it. So, I decided to look through Backstage and go on my first audition,” Rodriguez once told CNN.

After snagging the role, Rodriguez underwent an intense training regimen that molded her into a fighter. The attention and praise Rodriguez earned for her Girlfight performance helped establish a long-term acting career.

Four years later, Hilary Swank would star in her own boxing movie Million Dollar Baby. There, she played an amateur boxer who went through her own training regimen in hopes that she’d one day go pro.

Rodriguez enjoyed the movie up until its end, where she felt Eastwood’s Oscar-winning picture made a fatal mistake.

”I was excited to see it. I was like, ‘Great, now we have a commercial version of Girlfight,'” Rodriguez once told Entertainment Weekly. “And I watch the movie and I’m like, ‘F*** you, f***you. Why does she have to die?!'”

Michelle Rodriguez once shared ‘Girlfight’ originally wanted a more well-known actor

While auditioning for Girlfight, Rodriguez made it clear that she had very little performance training. But she reassured producers that she was different from all the other actors trying out for the role. And this might’ve been what won the film’s producers over in the end.

“I remember just telling the producers, ‘Look, I never finished high school, I took my GED, I don’t have any experience in acting, but I grew up in Jersey City and I’m a pretty tough cookie,’” Rodriguez once told Yahoo. “‘And I could probably knock out of most of the girls in here.’”

But the film’s director Karyn Kasuma told the Avatar star that producers were briefly entertaining another actor in Rodriguez’s role.

“She told me afterwards,” Rodriguez said. “She said [producers] were like, ‘Eh, let’s do an Alyssa Milano because she’s good from TV’ [Who’s the Boss?, Charmed]. They were picking all these kind of girly-girls, you know, women who didn’t have that kind of ghetto characteristic.”

Rodriguez theorized they were a little cautious about showing the true harsh realities of poverty by entertaining Milano.

“I guess they were scared of telling a story about poverty, and it not being successful. They’re forgetting that there’s a bunch of people in the United States that grew up that way, and a lot of people in the cities who grew up that way who might be interested,” she said.

Michelle Rodriguez was cast in ‘The Fast and the Furious’ because of ‘Girlfight’

Girlfight would lead to Rodriguez getting her iconic role in The Fast and the Furious franchise. According to the actor, Vin Diesel was impressed by her performance and immediately invited her to be a part of his family.

“[Vin Diesel saw Girlfight] and he told the director of The Fast and the Furious [Rob Cohen] that he wanted me for Letty,” Rodriguez recalled. “That movie pretty much started my Fast and Furious connection. It was pretty wild.”