Zoe Saldaña Reveals Why She Almost Turned Down Her Role in 'Special Ops: Lioness' (Exclusive)

Saldaña opened up to ET at the London premiere of the new Paramount+ series on Tuesday.

Zoe Saldaña is looking back at the opportunity presented to her by starring in Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan's new Paramount+ drama, Special Ops: Lioness -- and how she almost missed out.

Saldaña spoke with ET at the premiere of the new series at the Tate Britain in London, England, on Tuesday -- where she walked the red carpet alongside co-star Nicole Kidman -- and she opened up about joining onto the series after finishing her work on the Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises.

"It feels great being here, feels wonderful knowing that two or three years ago I was whispering to myself just how disheartened I was, because I had reached a peak in my life where I wanted to challenge myself," she explained. "I wanted to see what was out there beyond these amazing franchises, that have granted me so many opportunities but have also taken so much of my time."

"[I felt] I can be, I don't know, challenging myself a little more, and then Taylor called in the middle of the pandemic and presented me this opportunity," she continued. "So it almost felt like I had wished it so hard internally, you know, that the universe heard it."

Despite how hard she wanted it, Saldaña admitted that, at first, she was hesitant to sign on when asked.

"I did what every insecure actor does: I ran away," Saldaña explained. "I said no. I self-sabotaged for a year."

"And then, after I finished a series called From Scratch, I sent him a text and he immediately responded and in a very nice way he was like, 'I told you, silly, we were waiting on you,'" she recalled. "And I decided to believe him so I jumped on this journey and I really had a wonderful time."

"I learned so much about myself, I was inspired, I was repurposed working with my giants," Saldaña shared. "I just felt like I was checking a big item off my bucket list."

A big part of that desire and excitement to join the show also came from her appreciation for Sheridan's work.

"I knew of Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River, I had listened to some of his interviews, when he was doing press, and everything about his voice, his storytelling, his character, I really look up to," she said. "So when he called it was it was kind of like, 'OK, I guess I'll accept this."

Special Ops: Lioness, inspired by a real-life U.S. military program, centers on CIA missions to place undercover operatives close to high-value targets in order to gain their trust and eliminate them swiftly and quietly. Saldaña stars as Joe, who goes undercover with an aggressive Marine Raider, Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira), as part of the silent maneuverings in the war on terror.

She series follows Joe while she attempts to balance her personal and professional life as the tip of the CIA's spear in the war on terror: The Lioness Program, overseen by Kaitlyn Meade (Kidman) and Donald Westfield (Michael Kelly).

The series also stars  Michael Kelly, Morgan Freeman, Dave Annable, Jill Wagner, LaMonica Garrett, James Jordan, Austin Hébert, Jonah Wharton, Stephanie Nur and Hannah Love Lanier. Kidman and Saldaña also serve as executive producers.

Special Ops: Lioness premieres July 23 on Paramount+.