The Missing Link actress reveals why she gets "tense" when fans request selfies or live videos

By Alexia Fernandez
April 11, 2019 11:51 AM

As the star of two massive blockbuster franchises with major fanbases — Guardians of the Galaxy and AvatarZoe Saldana is often asked to take selfies with fans. While she understands the instinct to ask for photos with your favorite celebrities, the actress, 40, says she has boundaries.

Saldana tells PEOPLE she’ll “panic” if fans make requests for photos with her when she’s with her three children, 4-year-old twin sons Bowie and Cy and 2-year-old Zen.

“I feel really uncomfortable,” she says while promoting her new stop-motion animated film Missing Link. “They’re still at that tender age where they don’t understand why a stranger is coming over and touching their mother. Like there’s no sense of like, you know, boundaries.”

It can be especially difficult when she and her husband, artist Marco Perego, are teaching their sons about not talking to strangers.

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“It’s very confusing. So that’s why I’m mostly tense. Usually, before that I was OK,” says Saldana. “If I felt like it I would do it. If the environment dictated for that, it was OK, I would do it.”

She adds, “And sometimes I would just say no because I have every right to. What I don’t like is when they do it on Instagram Live or Snapchat. If it’s a picture for yourself, then you decide whatever you want to do, it’s OK.”

Zoë Saldana
Roy Rochlin/Getty

“You know, sometimes the public figure doesn’t want to disclose a location that they’re at to the massive public because that may put them in danger, at risk of somebody following them home and things like that,” she adds. “So lately I’ve just been not really taking pictures with anybody.”

She adds, “[Public figures] are compelled to not do that for their own lives. It’s just for their own safety. It’s kind of f— up, but at the same time, two-year-olds… So you need to remind people that there is a separation between life and fiction.”

The mother of three has been filming the sequel to 2009’s Avatar, which is expected to be in theaters next year. Currently, the actress voices the indomitable and independent Adelina Fortnight, an explorer who accompanies Hugh Jackman‘s Sir Lionel Frost and Zach Galifianakis‘ Mr. Link to find Link’s long-lost relatives, in Missing Link.

She also stars alongside Timothy Olyphant, Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry in the stop-motion film by Laika, the studio behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls.

Missing Link is in theaters Friday.