Since 2000, Michelle Rodriguez has given fans a slew of performances in popular films with a slate of beloved characters. Arguably, without Rodriguez, The Fast and Furious franchise may never have reached the multi-generational success the movies have enjoyed since 2001. It's wild that over 20 years since the first film debuted, the series can hit its tenth installment and still garner the same level of fan excitement as the first movie. At this point in their run, most franchises usually peter out with mediocre installments to keep the cash flowing but fail to live up to the original hype — but not The Fast and the Furious movies. Fans keep happily returning to the series, which is partly due to Rodriguez's beloved character Letty.
And though the Fast franchise is easily her most iconic contribution to Hollywood, Rodriguez has helped launch plenty of other successful films. Most recently, she stars in the quirky Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film alongside Chris Pine and Hugh Grant, which quickly won over fans and critics alike. For over 20 years, Rodriguez has made her mark on these films and movies like Avatar and Resident Evil. So, with a career spanning over two decades, here are some of our favorite Rodriguez roles to binge after hitting up Dungeons & Dragons and to fill the void before Fast X releases.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now playing in Regal theatres, and Fast X releases on May 19.
The Fast and the Furious (Letty)
You can't talk about Rodriguez's most iconic roles without including her performance in The Fast and the Furious films. Her character Letty is one of the three most important characters in the trilogy, though the length and importance of her role wavers throughout the movies. Back in 2001, when the first film released, gender roles still hadn't reached the overhaul that we're still working through today. As a result, it wasn't common to see women in male-dominated spaces like street racing on-screen.
Not only did Rodriguez's role help inspire young girls and women to embrace their "tomboy" interests, but she no doubt fostered a love of cars in plenty of the young girls watching the movies — who would later become mechanics or seek careers involving cars. Some people may roll their eyes at the mention of representation in film, but there's no measuring the importance of kids seeing themselves on-screen and feeling like they can pursue their dreams.
The rising trend of women in action roles during this time was vital to bring Hollywood to its current status. And though Letty is introduced to the series as Dom's love interest, she is far more than just his girlfriend. And although her status as a carjacker extraordinaire isn't necessarily the best role model for kids watching the show, there's no arguing that Letty didn't offer multiple generations of kids a strong, badass woman to look up to (hopefully with a little less carjacking inclinations).
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Holga)
What could be better than a sardonic Michelle Rodriguez (Holga), a dragon, and having Chris Pine (Edgin) as a bestie? Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has it all. It’s no surprise that Rodriguez’s character falls under the barbarian class during the movie — as strength and battle are key characteristics of barbarians. Rodriguez knows a thing or two about action sequences, and Holga can duke it up with the best of ‘em.
Of course, Rodriguez’s patented sarcasm comes into play during the film, but Holga also has some motherly instincts for Kira. The film allows Rodriguez to tap into a softer side of her character, which isn’t something she gets to do all that often. It’s always nice to see a badass character with layers. This action-packed yet fun and slightly meta take on the Dungeons and Dragons RPG offered Rodriguez the perfect opportunity to tackle this dynamic role with the charm and grit that only Rodriguez can manage.
Resident Evil (Rain Ocampo)
Is it surprising that Rodriguez’s Resident Evil role touted her character Rain as the best shot in her special forces unit? Once again, the actress is responsible for a unique and impactful female lead in an action series. Whether Rodriguez is tackling her character’s human iteration or transitioning to a member of the Undead — people affected by a zombie-like virus — she nails the assignment.
Fans care about Rain’s survival just as much as her coworkers, who refuse to give up on her despite her bites. But hey, what’s life without a little cloning? Rodriguez later played multiple incarnations of her character later in the series.
Avatar (Trudy Chacón)
The world always needs more quippy, sarcastic roles for Rodriguez to take on. When you’re that good at something, why fight fate? Rodriguez played Trudy Chacón in Avatar — which dominated box office records for years after its release. By 2009, Rodriguez had well established her title as Hollywood’s go-to action actress. Naturally, her role in Avatar followed that pattern.
Rodriguez played Trudy Chacón: a pilot and ex-Marine with a heavy rebellious streak. Trudy doesn’t take orders very well, making her instantly likable to fans. Like Rodriguez’s The Fast and the Furious character, Trudy has an affection for her ride. Except this time, it’s an aircraft instead of cars. We all love a fiercely loyal, independent woman, and Trudy is just that.
Blue Crush (Eden)
Rodriguez's 2002 movie Blue Crush is an outlier when it comes to the genre and direction of most of her roles. However, it's no less loved by fans. There's no heavy action or life-and-death components to this romantic drama, and it's a chill and a welcome change of pace when you're going through Rodriguez's intense catalog of work.
Though there aren't massive battles and blown-up cars in the movie, Rodriguez's role called for plenty of surfing — which is a difficult on-screen feat in its own right. Yet the heart of the movie isn't as frivolous as other similarly-minded projects. Blue Crush tackles issues like poverty, young women taking on surrogate mother roles for their siblings, and women finding their place in a male-dominated sport.
S.W.A.T. (Chris Sanchez)
Sticking to her trend of roles that empower women, Rodriguez’s S.W.A.T. character Chris is both a single mom and a vital member of the Los Angeles Police Department’s S.W.A.T. team. Who says women can’t do it all?
There’s no doubt that Rodriguez gets to flex the range of her acting skills during the movie. The team’s task revolves around a prisoner transport gone wrong, and the film boasts impressive Hollywood names like Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Colin Farrell, and LL Cool J. The film even inspired the 2017 TV show of the same name.
In 2018, Rodriguez joined a star-studded cast for the film Widows, starring Viola Davis, Colin Farrel, Liam Neeson, and Robert Duvall, with Steve McQueen at the helm as director and co-writer. The plot follows four women tasked with cleaning up their deceased husbands’ messes after their husbands ticked off the local crime boss by stealing $2 million from him.
Naturally, crooked politician and crime boss extraordinaire Jamal Manning doesn’t care that the women had no hand in taking his money. So, the wives form a rag-tag team to steal more money to pay off the guy their husbands stole from. Rodriguez took on the role of one of the widowed women, Linda, whose charming husband’s gambling debt caused her to lose her store. Of course, the role offers plenty of opportunities for Rodriguez to get in the thick of the action alongside some of Hollywood’s most iconic leading ladies.
The Assignment (Frank Kitchen)
Rodriguez’s role in The Assignment is a fascinating entry in the actress’ career. The plot centers around a rogue plastic surgeon who performs unwanted surgery on the homeless population. Yet her experiments don’t stop there. To get back at her brother’s killer, Dr. Rachel Jane, played expertly by Sigourney Weaver, performs gender reassignment surgery on Rodriguez’s character Frank Kitchen.
On some level, the 2016 film is an impactful take on gender identity. Frank is forced to live in a body that doesn’t align with who he is, and the movie flips the script on what the transgender community faces on a daily basis. Frank discovers that the surgery is irreversible, and his struggle is one that the trans community is all too familiar with when access to gender-affirming care is taken away. Hopefully, the think-piece film helped more people realize what it’s like to live in a body that doesn’t feel like your own and sparked more support for the trans community going forward.
Lost (Ana Lucia Cortez)
Though Rodriguez’s career veers mostly on the film side of Hollywood, we can’t talk about Rodriguez’s best roles without mentioning her stint as Lucia Cortez on Lost. Few shows managed to puzzle fans quite like the 2004 series, where fans had to follow the show’s breadcrumbs to speculate what exactly was going on. Of course, the iconic series is home to one of the biggest plot twists in TV history, which is certainly saying something.
Rodriguez’s character Ana has quite the tragic backstory — suffering a miscarriage due to a shooting late in her pregnancy. In a revenge-fueled rage, Ana killed her shooter and stepped down as a cop. Ana doesn’t always get along with the other inhabitants on the island, leading to a moderately short but impactful stint on the show for 23 episodes.
See Michelle Rodriguez’s latest movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Theives at Regal.