Rodriguez was born to Gabriel Eusebio (who is Puerto Rican) and Almarys Ortiz (a
native of the Dominican Republic); her parents divorced in 1986. She was raised
a Jehovah's Witness by her devoutly religious maternal grandmother, and has a
total of ten half-siblings or siblings, some of whom she has never met.
Rodriguez moved to the Puerto Rico with her mother. She was 8 and lived in
Puerto Rico when she was 11, later settling in New Jersey. She dropped out of
high school at age 17 (after having been kicked out of 6 different schools), but
later earned her GED.
Rodriguez was a struggling actress when she ran across an ad advertising an open
casting call for the low-budget, independent film, Girlfight. Michelle beat out
350 other applicants for the part, and was cast in the starring role of Diana
Guzman, a troubled teen who decides to channel her aggression by training to
become a boxer. It was her first audition. The film was released in 2000, and
Rodriguez's performance was recognized by both critics and audiences.
Subsequently, she has had notable roles in other successful movies, including
The Fast and the Furious and Resident Evil.
In 2002, she was ranked #77 in Stuff magazine’s “102 Sexiest Women In The
World”, and #34 in Maxim’s "100 Sexiest Women".
Rodriguez has recently completed filming of the horror movie "The Breed".
In 2004, Rodriguez gave her voice to the hit video game "Halo 2", playing one of
the Marines. She also currently provides the voice of Liz Ricarro in the Cartoon
Network series IGPX.
From 2005 to 2006, she played tough cop Ana-Lucia Cortez on the TV series Lost.
Rodriguez dated her The Fast and the Furious co-star, Vin Diesel, in 2001. She
enjoys inline skating and plays the piano.
In March 2002, Rodriguez was arrested and charged for assaulting her female
roommate. The charges were later dropped after the roommate declined to press
the allegations in court.
In November 2003, Rodriguez went to court to face eight misdemeanor charges
based on two road incidents: On July 22, she left the scene of an accident after
hitting another motorist. And on November 4, she sped through an intersection
while under the influence of alcohol. She had a suspended license both times.
In June 2004, Rodriguez pleaded no contest in Los Angeles to three of the
charges: hit and run, drunken driving, and driving with a suspended license. She
went to jail for 48 hours, performed community service at the morgues of two New
York hospitals, completed a three-month alcohol program, and was placed on
probation for three years.
In 2005, while filming Lost in Hawaii, Rodriguez was pulled over by Honolulu
police multiple times; she was cited for driving 83 mph in a 55 mph zone on Oahu
on Nov. 1 and was fined $357, paid a $300 fine for driving 90 mph in a 35 mph
zone on Oct. 20, was fined $197 for going 80 mph in a 50 mph zone on August
Rodriguez and her Lost costar, Cynthia Watros, who were driving in separate
cars, were each pulled over and arrested on the morning of December 1, 2005 in
Kailua, Hawaii. According to the arresting officers, the actresses were weaving
in and out of traffic on Pali Highway, which connects Kailua and Honolulu.
Rodriguez and Watros were arrested at 12:05 and 12:20 am, respectively, and both
failed sobriety tests. They were booked at the main Honolulu police station for
driving under the influence (Rodriguez was booked under the name "Mayte Michelle
Rodriguez"). They were released on $500 bail. Their police mugshots were
posted at The Smoking Gun website.Rodriguez pleaded not guilty when
arraigned, but on the day of her trial in April 2006, she pleaded guilty to
one charge of driving under the influence. She chose to pay a $500 fine and
spend five days in jail instead of doing 240 hours of community service.Rodriguez blamed her allergy-relieving steroids for the drunk driving and
"energetic" behaviour. During a May 2006 interview with on ABC's Good Morning
America, Rodriguez said that the ordeal forced her to grow up. Her Lost
character was killed off five months later, a development Rodriguez said was
planned from the beginning which producers confirmed.
Because the Kailua incident was a violation of her Los Angeles probation,
Rodriguez was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a 30 day alcohol rehabilitation
program and another 30 days of community service, including work for Mothers
Against Drunk Driving, by a judge in Los Angeles on May 1, 2006. Because
of overcrowding, she was released from jail on the same day she entered it. She
will still have to serve the community service.