Zoe Saldana is definitely not a fan of Donald Trump. Yet, despite this, the Guardians of the Galaxy actor has spoken out to reveal that she believes the new President-elect was a victim of bullying throughout his presidential campaign – and this it was this which led to his election victory.
Speaking to Yahoo! News, the 38-year-old actor explained: “We got cocky and became arrogant and we also became bullies.”
Trump is notoriously unpopular in Hollywood, with stars including Meryl Streep and Amy Schumer speaking out against the President-elect. However, Saldana said that celebrities who demonised Trump had further emboldened voters who believed in him.
“We were trying to single out a man for all these things he was doing wrong,” she said, “and that created empathy in a big group of people in America that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises.”
Saldana is set to star in Prohibition-era movie Live by Night – a film which she has praised for its unflinching depiction of racism in the Deep South of America, during a time when police officers and judges were proud to call themselves Ku Klux Klan members.
And, while Trump’s campaign has been criticised for stoking racial tensions – thanks to his near-constant rhetoric against Mexicans and Muslims – Saldana remains hopeful that the USA will never return to the dark days of segregation.
“I'm learning from [Trump's victory] with a lot of humility,” said Saldana.
“If we have people continue to be strong and educate ourselves and stand by equal rights and treat everyone with respect, we won't go back to those times.”
Saldana’s comments have since sparked a huge debate on Twitter, with many criticising her for defending the controversial President-elect.
“If an individual does wrong, do you not call that individual out and / or do you call out the people who called out the wrongdoing?” asked one.
Another added: “Please take several seats with your Hollywood c**p.
“The rise of this despot is way bigger than you and your famous friends.”
Others simply chose to remind her of the fact that Trump famously mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in 2015.
“Let's not forget Trump bullied a disabled reporter for the whole world to view,” one said. “You've got no play here!”
Saldana is not the first A-list star to voice an unpopular opinion about Trump; her words echo those made by Mark Wahlberg and Nicole Kidman.
Speaking a few weeks after the election, Wahlberg told Task & Purpose: “A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t talk about politics.
“A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble.”
“You know, it just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to that anyway. They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills.”
And Kidman recently told the BBC that she believes Americans need to start supporting Trump ahead of his inauguration on 20 January.
Stressing the importance of democracy and the American constitution, she said: “He's now elected and we, as a country, need to support whoever's the president because that's what the country is based on. However that happened, he's there, and let's go.”
Others, however, disagree, insisting that celebrities have a responsibility to address political issues.
Streep, who annihilated Donald Trump during a powerful, elegant, and dignified Golden Globes speech, said firmly: “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”