After rising to stardom in her native Mexico, Hayek chased Hollywood popularity and status by starring in several successful movies such as "Wild Wild West" and "Desperado". Salma Hayek-Jimenez was born on September 2, 1966, and raised in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Her religious parents -- father of Lebanese descent, mother of Spanish descent -- wanted to ensure that their daughter would be well-educated, and sent her to a Louisiana boarding school when she was 12. Sent back home for being a prankster, Hayek finished high school and was sent to Houston to live with her aunt until the age of 17. Once a college student in Mexico City, majoring in international relations studies, Hayek finally decided to drop out (to her parents' chagrin) to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an actress. Hayek started out doing local theater, including a role as the female lead in Aladdin and His Marvelous Lamp. Theater work eventually led to commercials, which finally led to a part on a series called Un nuevo amanecer. Hayek was considered a star in Mexico for her role as Teresa in the popular soap opera of the same name. This was, however, not enough for the ambitious beauty who had set her sights on Hollywood.
Hayek moved to Los Angeles in 1991, a complete unknown in a city full of aspiring actors. Foreign to the English language, Hayek spent the next 18 months taking English lessons, while perfecting her acting skills with drama teacher Stella Adler. Although Hayek spent four months auditioning for a lead role that finally went to another actress, the film's director, impressed by her determination, cast her in a smaller role in the same film (1993's Mi vida loca, a.k.a My Crazy Life) so that she could become a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Her big break had finally arrived, and it was mostly thanks to her appearance on a Spanish-language cable talk show. Director Robert Rodriguez caught Hayek's appearance, and knew he had to cast her for the sequel to his successful film El Mariachi: 1995's Desperado, opposite Antonio Banderas.
Roles in 1995's Fair Game and 1996's Fled did not do the actress justice, but with Salma Hayek websites finding their home in cyberspace and roles pouring in, audiences were sure to take notice of this Mexican beauty. In 1996, Salma appeared in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, and starred alongside Matthew Perry in the 1997 romantic comedy, Fools Rush In. That same year, Hayek charmed audiences with her role as Esmeralda in a TNT rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame simply called Hunchback.
Hayek's film repertoire continued to expand, with a role as a cocaine-sniffing dancer in 54, based on the rise and fall of the popular '70s nightclub. She also starred opposite Jordana Brewster and Elijah Wood in 1998's teen slasher flick, The Faculty (also a Robert Rodriguez film), alongside Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in 1999's controversial Dogma, and opposite Kevin Kline and Will Smith in 1999's big budget disappointment, Wild Wild West. In 2000, Salma kept busy with roles in Timecode, Chain of Fools, and she had a brief uncredited appearance in the Oscar-winning Traffic. After a role in 2001's Hotel, Hayek starred in the made-for-TV movie In the Time of the Butterflies.
In the meantime, Salma was working on what would become her pet project, Frida. A biopic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, the movie was released in 2002, featured Salma in the title role, and was also co-produced by Hayek. The role garnered Salma Best Actress nominations by the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards. She took home Best Actress trophies at the Imagen Foundation Awards and the Golden Camera (Best International Actress).
In 2003, Salma appeared in Rodriguez's Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, as well as the sequel to Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. In addition to her movies and accolades, Salma Hayek made headlines thanks to a four-year romance with Edward Norton (he appeared in Frida, and even wrote the final script). She has also been romantically linked with former fiancé Richard Crenna, Jr. and actor Edward Atterton. She has currently been spotted with actor Josh Lucas (from The Hulk).
In 2004, Salma can add the movies After the Sunset, the animated film Sian Ka'an (for which she lends her voice), Paint, and Murphy's Law to her resume. She is also tapped to star in 2005's Ask the Dust with Colin Farrell and Val Kilmer.
"I keep waiting to meet a man who has more balls than I do."
Salma Hayek to play a fat and ugly sex-mad psychopath!
Actress Salma Hayek is all set to make herself fat and ugly for her new movie role as a 20-stone, sex- mad psychopath.
According to femalefirst, Hayek is piling on the pounds to play the role of real-life serial killer Martha Beck in 'Lonely Hearts'.
"Salma won't put on all the weight - she will also have padding. But she isn't worried about looking bad. It didn't do Charlize Theron any harm. She won an Oscar for her ugly role in 'Monster'," the report quoted a source as saying.
Salma Hayek Lands a Killer Role
Salma Hayek will star in the Millennium Films drama Lonely Hearts opposite John Travolta and James Gandolfini. Todd Robinson wrote the script and is directing the film.
Variety says Hayek is set to play the female lead role of Martha Beck, a serial killer in the 1940s who, with accomplice Raymond Martinez Fernandez, found victims through personal ads. Travolta and Gandolfini play the homicide detectives who track the killers.
Production on the film will begin in April.
Hayek just wrapped Banditas with Penelope Cruz for producer Luc BessonLuc Besson and Fox. She'll next be seen with Colin Farrell in the Robert Towne-directed Ask the Dust at Paramount Classics.
Salma Hayek Talks About "Frida"
Producer Nancy Hardin optioned the rights to Hayden Herrera's extensively researched biography, "Frida," when the book was originally released in 1983. No studio was interested in the project at that time, though Hardin shopped the project around exhaustively.
It was not until Frida Kahlo's work exploded into popularity during the early 1990s, that interest in a movie based on her life took off. Hardin recalls, "There was a period in 1993 when I'd gone around and gotten the usual 'no's,' and then I came back three months later and everyone had a 'Frida' script. From no one to everyone. It was incredible."
Salma Hayek, a longtime fan of Kahlo's work, heard that "La Bamba's" director Luis Valdez was set to direct a Frida film. She went after the title role but was told she was too young for the part. In words that would eventually prove to be prophetic, Hayek replied, "Then you are going to have to wait until I'm old enough."
Valdez' Frida project never came to fruition, however in the meantime, Hayek had proved her bankability with starring roles in "Desperado" and "From Dusk Til Dawn." In 1997, producer Hardin signed a deal with Trimark Pictures, and Trimark Pictures signed Hayek to star in and produce their "Frida."
SALMA HAYEK (Frida Kahlo)
You've been passionate about this project for a long time.
What was it about this woman that really inspired you?
There was something about the woman and there was something about the time the woman lived in. About the woman: her courage to be unique. She was never conventional about anything she did. She was always herself and it was not easy. She started exploring her womanhood at a very early age. She got caught with a librarian right before the accident. She was not allowed to go back to the school after the accident because of this. It's not in any books, but Alejandro [Gomez Arias] said, "How could you do this to me? How could you do this, period?" She said, "That's who I am."
She was never apologetic about who she was. She did little paintings that nobody liked. She lived with this monster of the art. She was not influenced by what he was doing; she never changed. Even though people would never buy it, she kept true to her own style.
I think also, the fact that she took all these different tragedies or difficulties and made the best out of them. [She] not only made the best out of them, but did it in an interesting way. From paint, she did art and poetry. From the infidelities of her husband, she found freedom.
Could you relate to her?
I would like to learn from her. It is definitely an inspiration and I'd like to take it in. I'm working on it.
What did you do to physically get into the role? Did you actually shave your upper lip?
I did that but it didn't work. Now, I'm stuck with it. I had a shoe that was one centimeter taller than the other one. It was very difficult to know exactly where she stood on the limping. I talked to many people that knew her and some people would say she never limped, some people would say she always limped, and some people would say she limped sometimes. So what I did is have the shoe bigger than the other one and then try not to limp, try to hide it. But then at times when I thought she was very tired or going through a hard time, I would surrender to whatever that did naturally. I'd stop trying.
Do you believe the romance between Frida and Diego Rivera was based on obsession or passion?
I think there was always passion. I think there were very profound elements that transformed the passion, not just for sexuality, but they really had passion for each other in many different levels. The passion was not just passion but actually transformed into true love. I think these people learned, through the years, to accept each other exactly as they were and to love each other exactly for what they were.
I think that Frida was the only woman that kept challenging Diego for the right reasons - and she always surprised him. I think he truly believed she was a genius and he was the only one who had a vision for it, or the strongest vision for it. When he dies, he leaves a document that says the house that they lived in, the blue house, has to become a museum for Frida Kahlo. Had it not been for his vision, we probably would have never discovered Frida - if she hadn't had that museum. He knew that at the time she was not appreciated, but he knew there was going to come a generation that was going to totally get her.
I think there are very profound symbols of love in this story. What I like about this story, aside from the fact that it's completely different than any love story I've ever seen, is that it's not a story about falling in love. It's a story about staying in love. People don't want to make those stories because they're not as romantic. They're very hard to tell.
Did this character stay with you or could you get out of it easily?
I can break it very easily because she's been in my life since I was 14 and she's still in my life today. It stays in my heart. So, I don't feel a complete detachment. I can break away from trying to be her, or feeling that I am her or trying to play her, because still she's around.
How did you handle some of the bisexual scenes?
It's not a big deal. You have to be somebody. This is what that person was into. The same way when you have to get into somebody that you're not attracted to. They have bad breath and you have to pretend you're in love.
At what point did you ask Edward (Norton) to help out on writing the screenplay?
Julie [Taymor] had come on board. We needed to shape the movie to her taste and rewrite the movie, and do another movie that would be Julie's vision. We had been working with a writer that we all liked very much - his name is Rodrigo Garcia, he's so talented and such a lovely man - but at the time he was directing a film. It takes a long time. So, Edward offered to do it.
Did he say offer to help you out or did you ask him?
He volunteered completely. I did say, “Oh noooooo! Rodrigo can't do it.” Because for me the most painful part of that whole process was finding a new writer. You don't know what it's like. You have to read 100 scripts or samples. I never like any of them. I have to pick 10. Then you meet all of them and you like them all because they're all so nice and smart. You don't know which could do a better job than the other. This with a lot of people deciding with you. Then, you decide on one after many fights. Then you spend weeks with this person, telling them your vision of your film, giving them research, calling and tormenting them with all this information. You have such high hopes and they go away. They're never on time so you have to keep waiting. Then they give you the script and it's terrible. You have to go to the rewrite and they're very upset because you didn't like it. I went through that for seven years.
Was it worth it?
It is worth it. For me it was a great learning experience.
Was it a relief to just act in it after going through the process?
Oh, it was such a relief after seven years. I'll tell you why it was a relief: I was 100% convinced and had 100% faith in this director. This director was the right director [and] she was going to make an amazing movie. So, I had no doubts. I said, “Here, take my child. Do something with it.”
You've directed a film. What did you learn from Julie Taymor?
Number one, they offered me this film before I did "Frida." I said, “No, I'm not capable of directing.” And after seeing Julie direct, I was inspired by it. She motivated me to do it. We don't have enough role models as woman for directors.
How would you describe yourself as a director?
Naïve, new, passionate about what I do, and lucky. It turned out pretty well and I had a great time.
Julie called you woman's woman. Why do you see yourself that way?
Because I feel a sisterhood with all women. I don't see women and look at them as competition or with judgment. Women really move me. I feel connected to all kinds of women. I am angry because I think we've been mistreated throughout history in different countries - in America too. So, I admire women.
Is it hard to leave this film alone?
No. I've already moved on to the next thing. I directed a movie [and] now I'm going to do the editing. Of course, it's hard to leave it behind when you talk about it 24 hours a day in these interviews. It's different. You do it from a place of peace. Maybe my frame of mind is a peaceful one. Because, you know, I did it. I'm proud of it. It's getting a lot more attention than I thought.
You have to realize when I did this film, it was a small movie. I never thought about having big stars in the movie. It still is a small film; it's a very small film. It only got a lot of publicity because of gossip. This movie started having publicity when other people wanted to do it. People became interested in things that were never there, that I didn't bring up. I was quietly working on this for seven years. Somebody else brought on this attention to this project that was a small project.
What do you think of the Oscar buzz?
I don't want to get excited about it. It doesn't intimidate me. I have to stay clear in my mind and stay in the place where I am today, which is I'm proud of the film. I really am disappointed that there isn't more controversy because I thought Frida and Diego are so controversial, there's going to be a lot of controversy. There hasn't been, but wait until we go to Mexico and let's see. If it does well, then it's a good thing. If it doesn't do well, it's a good thing because I like the movie. But I do have a personal fantasy about the Oscars. I think it would make Frida so happy that through her life story, for the first time a female director wins an Oscar.
What would Frida think of this movie?
I don't know. I have no idea. I have no idea, but wherever she is she knows I tried really hard to make her happy with it.
What about working with Robert Rodriguez again?
I just worked with Rodriguez. It was fun. He called yesterday. I think he wants me to sing a song in the movie. I've got to call him and see what the hell that's about.
Was it fun working on "Once Upon a Time in Mexico?"
Oh, yes. I will always work with Robert Rodriguez. Always, always, always. He's the first person who gave me my first opportunity and it is thanks to him that I'm here today. He believed in me when nobody else believed in me and I will never forget that. I'm very loyal.
Does he kill you off in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico?"
Oh yeah. I'm dead. I'm a ghost. I'm dead before the movie begins. I'm a memory. I'm a distant memory.
Salma Hayeks Naked Breasts Make Her Want To Kill Herself
Salma Hayek claims she wants to " kill herself" every time she sees her breasts on-screen.
The Hollywood beauty had to strip off for her 1996 movie 'Desperado', in which she played Antonio Banderas's love interest, and she says she found it hard to perform the scene because of her strict Catholic upbringing.
She said: "Everyone tells me that the love scene is beautiful but I hated it. Every time I see it, I want to kill myself."
However, Salma says the raunchy scene was necessary because it helped give the violent movie a loving and romantic moment.
She added: "It's a violent film and you need a tender scene." Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Salma will present an award at this month's Oscars.
The 38-year-old beauty, who was nominated for as Best Actress in 2002 for her role in 'Frida', will join a galaxy of stars including Halle Berry, Renee Zellweger and Charlize Theron, in presenting a prize at the prestigious even.
Salma Hayek: It is all about family
Salma Hayek's fans may be surprised when they see their heroine's latest role. She plays a nice sweet girl who wants a family. Up to now her image could be summed up as hot and sexy. It's an image she seems to have worked hard to develop, not only with racy parts in Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and Fled, but in an endless string of sexy photos and interviews. It's hard to open a movie magazine and not see Hayek's deep brown eyes and flat tummy, bellybutton and all. Her fan Web site on the Internet (www.salma.com) has piles of luscious pictures that change weekly. In Fools Rush In, her new comedy with Matthew Perry of Friends opening Friday, Hayek plays Isabel Fuentes, a fun but introspective homebody more interested in hanging out with her family and friends at home than in wild times.
Ask Hayek about her wild image and she is all innocence. She didn't do those roles to be sexy. "Are you kidding me?" she bursts out in mixed indignation and laughter. "You get what you can. It's not like you get all these offers and get to pick." And all those flirty comments we read in interviews? Like the one where she hinted about the physical attributes of the man who could win her heart? Who me? "I was excited because I'm in these publications and I would find all these new words to my vocabulary that I've never heard before, and some of them I still don't understand," she says. "Bombshell? Is he saying something bad? What does that mean? That I bombed in the film? Nobody can tell me where this bombshell adjective comes from."
Hayek, who is surprisingly tiny, a petite 5-feet-2-inches, says all this with great good humor and a self-mocking attitude. It takes only two minutes around her to know she's smart like a fox. She knows exactly what she's doing. So what's the smartest thing she's done since she came to Hollywood? That gets a big, secret grin. "I've done some smart things, but I've never been a smart (aleck) about it. Is that how you say that? So I'm going to keep my mouth shut about the smart things I've done. But I've done some really good ones." That doesn't mean she's phony. You believe she means what she says. Hayek just comes across flirty by nature. It's not her fault if she knows the results. Like when she pats the couch beside her and says, "Sit here." Or reaches out repeatedly to touch an arm or hand or knee when she talks. Little wonder still flushed interviewers rush back to their terminals and write her up as a love goddess.
Hayek insists family is what is really important to her. (The interview, at the Ritz Carlton, was delayed just a few minutes while Hayek huddled with a favorite aunt who lives in Houston.) Family values is the one reason Hayek really wanted the role of Isabel Fuentes in Fools Rush In. Isabel is a Mexican-American who lives with her large family in Las Vegas. One evening she meets Alex (Perry), a transplanted New York yuppie, and does something very unusual for her: She spends the night with him. Weeks later, she learns she is pregnant and finds Alex to let him know that she intends to have the child. That begins an off-and-on cross cultural romance that focuses on family relationships and lifestyle. Hayek found the role three years ago, and kept after it until, finally, the producers wanted her.
"I was attracted to Isabel's humanity," she says. "It's very rare to run into a character so human in a romantic comedy." "She's Catholic, she's very close to her family, she's a very nice girl, but she does have that one-night stand." Hayek, who speaks English well but with a strong accent, considers herself very different from most Hollywood Hispanic actors because she is from Mexico, not the United States. She was born in 1968 in Coatzacoalos, in the state of Veracruz. Her father was of Lebanese descent, her mother was of Spanish ancestry. "I went to Louisiana for two years when I was 13 and 14 to study with the nuns," she says. "I learned some English, but I hung around the Mexicans and then went back to Mexico and I didn't practice." Later she lived with her aunt in southwest Houston.
"I was 16. I got out of high school way too early and my mom didn't want me to go to college yet because she was afraid of college boys. So she sent me here with my aunt for a couple of months until my birthday. I was here for four months." She began her acting career in her late teens, doing minor stage work, then gaining recognition in several telenovelas, or soap operas. She came to the United States in the early '90s, determined to make herself a Hollywood star. She thought she would have a head start because she spoke English. "When I went to acting school, it was so depressing. Nobody could understand a word I said. I couldn't get around, that's how bad it was. I had to dedicate two years of absolute devotion to learn English." As her saved money ran out, she was tempted to go back to Mexico, but resisted. "That was selling out, giving up on your dream," she says. "I'm terribly prideful. I wasn't going to let them know that I made a mistake, that I wasted two years of my life coming back saying, 'You were right, I shouldn't have gone.'"
Eventually she landed a few small roles, and then the female lead in Rebel Highway (Roadracers), a cable film by Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who had made a splash with El Mariachi, was doing this movie as a sort of warm-up for Desperado, to show he could handle a Hollywood film. He later used Hayek in Four Rooms and gave her the female lead in Desperado. In that film, she agreed reluctantly, to do a nude love scene. She was so nervous that the scene had to be edited into very short segments. Next, Rodriguez cast her in a cameo as a stripper who turns into a vampire in From Dusk Till Dawn. And she plans to work with Rodriguez again. "I will be his slave," she says, "because he believed in me when no one did. I will tell you one good thing that I'm proud about myself, and that is gratitude to the people who have been good to me." She waves her finger and whispers, "So you be nice to me."
In recent years, there has been an effort to tap into the important Hispanic market here in the United States and to create Latin stars, but the formula has been elusive. "I think one of the reasons is they get actors born here (instead of Mexico). A lot of these actors who claim to be Latino speak terrible Spanish, or none at all. I come from that market and they know who I am, and we speak the same language. They've seen me grow, so they relate to me in a more personal way. The American films I'm in are always No. 1 when they come to Mexico. We are right at the crossing point where they will learn how to capture the Hispanic audiences," Hayek says, "I'm doing this film and trying to promote it with the Hispanic audience and I have seen a lack of knowledge even on which are the Hispanic publications or shows in some of the cities." She readily admits that she feels "incredibly" uncomfortable with representing Latin culture in movies. "It's a big pressure," she says. "I didn't mean to do that." Her voice grows very quiet. "I'm a little bit more selfish than that."
Although there are some stereotypes in Fools Rush In, both Mexican and Anglo, the film is respectful of Mexican culture and religion. Hayek, who is Catholic, was pleased with that. She hopes her American audience will find some aspects of that culture appealing. "I am extremely grateful to this country, and I have learned many, many things here." She says with great seriousness. "This movie gives me the opportunity to give something back to this country. To show something about where I come from, and about who I am, about my roots, that this country could use. And that is family values. Family unity. Family support. Of all the bad things we have, that is one good thing, family values. I just hope in some ways it's inspiring for the young American couples that are beginning a family. Because we are very affectionate. We are not afraid to touch, we are not afraid to show or say how much we love a member of the family."
"Fools Rush In." Starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. Directed by Andy Tennant. Written by Joan Taylor, Katherine Reback, Andy Tennant and Rick Parks. Produced by Doug Draizin. A Columbia Pictures Release. Romantic comedy.
Salma Hayek : Mexican pride in the mecca of Hollywood films.
Do you think you're beautiful?
Sometimes I like how I look, but I don't worry about it too much because I have 28 years of seeing my face. There are also days, however, that I tell myself "you look horrible today." (Interviewer) The word complexion is not a part of Salma's vocabulary because she knows real well that colors and textures that go with her color of skin and type of dress make her shine in any situation.
(Salma) I want to say to all the Mexican people that I owe them a big part of my security. They embraced me, and were with me when I was doing my first soap opera. They didn't know me, but they believed in me. Since I began at the bottom of Hollywood, that has given me alot of strength. The love from the Mexican people that has been there from the beginning helped me to feel accepted.
After almost 6 years of dedicating herself to Hollywood, Salma feels that the effort was worth all the pain.
Salma Hayek was introduced to American audiences last year simmering opposite Antonio Banderas in Robert Rodriguez' Desperado. The Mexican actress, who turned down the role of Selena, is currently appearing in Fled, with Stephen Baldwin and Laurence Fishburne. She was interviewed over coffee--and dessert--by Thomas Mournian.
What was your initial reaction when you heard that Los Angeles Magazine wanted to cover you in whipped cream?
I was very excited. I thought I was going to be naked, so I asked the photographer if I could wear a cake for a hat.
Was this the first time you'd been slathered in whipped cream?
No, but it's the first time I got pictures.
What's your second-favorite way to use whipped cream?
I really like it on hot chocolate.
What's your favorite American food?
Favorite Mexican dish?
Chiles en hogada. It's like a chile relleno but with no cheese. Instead of a poblano chile, you use bell peppers. They can be stuffed with things like beef, nuts, apples, olives, raisins--just about anything--and then dipped in egg batter, fried and doused with tomato sauce.
Do you have a favorite eating scene in a film?
Yes. It's from that old kids' movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I love the scene where the dirt-poor kid gets a bar of chocolate for his birthday and he shares it with his mother and grandparents, who are all really hungry. After eating the chocolate, they are all very happy.
Have you got the L.A. obsession for working out?
No! That's the one part of American culture I hate. The concept of going into a room full of people who are sweating and inhaling their sweat while I'm painfully driving myself into exhaustion . . . I don't understand it. I walk on the beach or ride a bicycle or jump around my house, but I will not participate in that collective hysteria.
How long have you been in L.A.?
About five years.
What was the toughest adjustment?
Driving! What a nightmare! I didn't drive in Mexico. I was so brave in the beginning, saying, "I'm going to be a self-sufficient woman now." First I bought a stick shift--that lasted two days. Then I got an automatic--but I didn't ever know where I was going, so I got a car phone. My bill on that phone was so outrageous! And I was afraid to go anywhere because I was totally paranoid about cops--my friends had told me about Beverly Hills cops. I was always so lost . . . I would get on the phone and drive my friends crazy. I would stay on the line the whole time because I'd get so lost--and always at the wrong places. I'd be on the phone, crying for hours in East L.A., crying for hours in South-Central. I was so afraid to open my window and ask, "How do you get to Beverly Hills?" One time, I was going to Santa Monica, and I drove for hours. They told me to get on the freeway, and of course, I stayed on the freeway. I called my friend and said, "I see a sign on the hill that says MONTEREY . . ." I had to stop the car and ask someone, "How do I get to Burbank from San Francisco?"
Salma Hayek's discovery
Hollywood publicists are famous for inventing newsworthy anecdotes to accrue column inches for their would-be-star clients. Yet Mexican-born beauty Salma Hayek's discovery by Robert Rodriguez--and subsequent casting in Desperado--sounds so implausible, no publicist would every have presumed to pull it off.
"I went to see El Mariachi," explains Hayek, her brown eyes growing even bigger. "I thought it was so great, new and brilliant. I was driving home thinking how much I'd love to meet Robert Rodriguez, because he's a genius and he's part Mexican. So I went home, went to bed, and was woken by the phone. It was Elizabeth, Robert's wife, saying, 'My husband would like to meet you. . .'"
Rodriguez, it turns out, had been at home indulging in a spot of channel-surfing. He had stumbled upon Hayek being interviewed on a Spanish language cable station. She finishes the tale. . .
"He turned to his wife and said, 'Look at this girl. She'd be great for Desperado. Will you find her?' We had a meeting and the rest is history. It's like a Hollywood dream come true.
Talking to Empire at a swank LA hotel, Hayek displays all the star attributes that make this tale less of a surprise than she might think; she's gorgeous, talented, bright, funny and charming. Already a legend in her home country, thanks to a role in its hugely popular daytime soap Teresa, she has also starred in El Callejon De Los Milagros (The Alley Of The Miracles), Mexico's most successful film ever and its entry in the 1996 Academy Awards' Best Foreign Film category. Today, she remains unintimidated by the hordes of media types who have already designated her 1996's Big Thing.
They could be right if Hayek's achievements in 1995 are anything to go by. After adding Desperado to a CV that already lists a part in Allison Anders' acclaimed Mi Vida Loca (1993), Hayek considered Rodriguez's offer of a cameo in Four Rooms as a showgirl who gets friendly with a pole. However, sticking to her original stipulation of "no nudity, no snakes," her first reaction was to refuse.
"I said to Robert, 'I've never danced and you want me to wear a bikini?' He said it was a favour and , 'You have to be in every movie I make. You're my good luck charm.'"
Hayek took the part, showing Elizabeth Berkley a thing or two about sex appeal in the process. When Rodriguez showed her scene to his mate, Quentin Tarantino, he was so impressed he immediately wrote Hayek a sizeable part in From Dusk Till Dawn, his and Rodriguez's upcoming vampire movie, starring Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and ER's George Clooney. But as luck would have it, when--on Rodriguez's suggestion--Hayek's part was revised, it now required her to handle a snake. Again she refused, so Rodriguez threatened her with (never confirmed) rumours that Madonna was after the role too. Hayek stoically spent two months with therapists and overcame her phobia.
This determination surfaced yet again last year when Joel Silver went after Hayek for the part of William Baldwin's girlfriend in the much-maligned Fair Game. But the actress was unhappy with her scene, and this time stood her ground, demanding she be allowed to rewrite it. While bigger stars might have been laughed out of the room, Hayek strode out a few weeks later to meet Baldwin with a new script in hand. . .
"Billy was freaking out, saying, 'Excuse me, I need to see the director'," she laughs, "But he loved the scene--we got a standing ovation from the crew and became good friends."
It's in Rodriguez's Desperado, however, where Hayek's starry colours truly shine. The director gave her only one word of direction in reference to her character, Carolina.
"He told me: 'bookstore'. That was it. Carolina owns a bookstore in a town where no one reads. She is a realist but has a fantasy world. Theses books are her friends and lovers. She travels and meets people through her reading. She's a dreamer, and when she sees the Mariachi walking down the street, she knows he's her destiny and is coming to save her."
Hayek wasn't afraid to get her perfectly manicured nails chipped, either, choosing to perform all her own stunts.
"You know how macho boys get when they're all together?" she smiles. "Well, the set of Desperado was like that. They were all trying to put me down, saying, 'Bring on the stuntwoman, Salma can't do that.' But I did everything. The scene where Antonio and I jump across two buildings was great. They put cables on us and it really was like flying. I didn't want to stop. I kept saying, 'Can we do it one more time?' I had a blast. . ."
Salma Hayek proves she's a lot more than just a pretty face
Rule number one: don't call Salma Hayek a "Latina." Rule number two: don't call her "Hispanic." And most importantly: don't refer to her as a "minority." "I can't conceptualize all these different terms," she says firmly. "They're confusing to me, so I don't pay attention to them. I am the same now as I was when I came to this country--a Mexican actress."
As stunningly beautiful in person as she is on-screen, Hayek nevertheless exudes a down-to-earth charm rare for a rising young star. Yet there remains an ambitious glint in her eyes, evidence that this is also a woman of indefatigable drive.
At the tender age of 22, the future star of "Desperado" and the forthcoming "Fools Rush In" was already a household name in Mexico. In the title role of the top-rated soap opera "Teresa," Hayek had attained the kind of superstardom most Mexican performers only dream of.
She was, in fact, bewildered by the magnitude of her success with "Teresa." "I don't know how the Mexican people could sit through it every night and bear it. I couldn't. I did a terrible job. I had people constantly saying to me, `I love you, Teresa!' and I said, `This has nothing to do with real life! If I have any real talent, this is going to kill it.' So I decided I had to leave, go somewhere else and start from scratch. But this time I had to do it right."
Hayek's longstanding goal was feature films, and that meant Hollywood. That she spoke no English at the time was not of great concern. "I knew it was going to be difficult," she remembers. "But I thought I'd be speaking perfect English in three months because I'd just set my mind to it. I'd just work really hard, take nine hours of classes a day and never sleep. It didn't work out quite that way."
Despite her burgeoning stateside career, Hayek is reluctant to declare herself a "success" in Hollywood. After years of American sitcom guest spots ("I hate sitcoms more than soaps!") and assorted bit roles, she received her first starring role in, ironically, a Mexican film. "Midaq Alley," written by Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mafouz, went on to win more international awards than any other Mexican film in history, as well as four international best actress awards for Hayek's portrayal of a proud woman struggling to escape poverty.
It was, in many ways, a story that mirrored Hayek's own struggle and foreshadowed the triumphs to come. Soon thereafter, Hayek's Hollywood breakthrough arrived thanks to "Desperado" director Robert Rodriguez, who cast her in the film's female lead opposite Antonio Banderas. Hayek's star soared, landing her co-starring roles in major studio films like the recent "Fled" and "Fair Game," as well as an infamous "snake dancing" cameo in Rodriguez' "From Dusk Till Dawn."
It is Hayek's forthcoming projects, however, which she hopes will secure her a place among Hollywood's elite leading actresses, most notably the scheduled Valentine's Day release of "Fools Rush In," in which she co-stars with "Friends" star Matthew Perry. "People usually describe this kind of film as `Boy Meets Girl,'" she says. "But I think that's a little sexist, so I'm going to say it's `Girl Meets Boy.'" The offbeat romantic comedy from director Andy Tennant ("The Amy Fisher Story") centers around a beautiful Mexican-American woman and an East Coast yuppie who elope on a whim after a one-night stand. "It's basically about two people who know nothing about each other and how they deal with being married," says Hayek. "It is a romantic comedy, but it also deals with some tough issues. Hopefully people will cry a little bit, too."
For co-star Perry, Hayek has nothing but praise. "He's a joke machine. He knows exactly what faces he's going to make, how he's going to move the lines around to give it the right timing. He's very good."
Perry is only the latest in Hayek's long line of talented male co-stars. "Russell Crowe is one of the best actors I've ever worked with," she says of her co-star in the recently completed "Breaking Up," the screen adaptation of Michael Cristofer's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Also special for Hayek was the chance to act with Mandy Patinkin and Richard Harris in an upcoming TNT production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," in which she plays Esmerelda. Shot entirely on location in Hungary, the production gave Hayek a chance to stretch as an actress in a specifically "non-Latin" role. "These are all very special individuals to me," she says of her co-stars. "I feel incredibly lucky to have acted with them."
Luck notwithstanding, Hayek does not discount the value of hard work. "I've encountered every kind of resistance," she says, pointing to her accent and "exotic looks" as frequent obstacles. "Most of the major actresses in this country are women who could be your neighbor, the girl-next-door. But it doesn't make any difference to me how anyone else sees me. I read a part and I know that it's me, that I can be this woman. And it's very hard to convince me otherwise. If you get me in a room with a director, chances are I might convince him, too. But I have had to break every mindset and collective thought in this city. The parts I could've played were never written. The parts that I could play, I didn't fit."
While even Hayek is forced to admit that an increasing number of roles are beginning to "fit," she again stops short of proclaiming her goals achieved. When asked about her criterion for "success," she emphatically declares, "At least 20 years of constant work. And even then, it's not about one movie. It's not about two movies. Whoever thinks they've made it, no matter how big they are, if it's before the age of 60, they're wrong. They may have had a time in their life when they were famous, but you cannot evaluate a career like that. Even if you get an Oscar, what happens if you don't work again? Are you going to be kissing the Oscar in your free time? I think you're successful when you're 70 and you look back at an honest life you can feel proud of, that you left the world stamped with children, grandchildren and many wonderful movies to watch."
Salma Hayek: Beauty, Talent, Success
Salma Hayek has charisma and an amazing presence. Not only does she throw herself into every role she takes on, but she has the kind of determination and passion we admire in a woman. And she might just be one of the sexiest women on the planet. After becoming a star in her native Mexico, Salma Hayek headed for Hollywood and starred in Desperado, Fools Rush In, Wild Wild West, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. But it was her starring role in Frida that proved Salma's acting skills and strong will.
Salma Hayek has starred in some good movies like Desperado, Dogma and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, but the girl has also made some bad film choices: Fools Rush In and Wild Wild West are among the many that pop into our minds.
But thanks to her red-hot passion, Latin fire, and curves that just won't quit, we can forgive her. Okay, we can even forgive her for the unibrow she had to maintain while starring as Frida Kahlo in Frida. Hayek has beaten the odds to become one of the most popular and well-paid Latin female stars in Hollywood, and although she's got looks to kill, beauty can only take someone so far. Salma has proven that she's got the goods to back up her amazing looks.
For such a petite woman (well, height-wise at least), Salma Hayek packs quite a punch. She's a fireball in every sense of the word, and never takes no for an answer. And we mean that in a good way, because without that attitude, Salma probably wouldn't be where she is today. She had to fight in order to get the movie Frida made, and she finally took it upon herself when others refused to produce it.
Whenever she's on the late-night circuit, she's always smiling and always has an interesting story to tell. Basically, an evening with her would be anything but dull. Salma doesn't seem to take herself too seriously, at least that's the way her roles in Wild Wild West, 54 and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over portray her. She's always the best part of any movie she appears in (hands down), and with Best Actress Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, it's clear that critics are also impressed with her talent. She's only one strong role away from taking Oscar home with her.
Salma Hayek is smoking. If a career as an actress didn't pan out for her, she could have fallen back on being a model (although her 5'2" frame have hindered her). She's hotter than a Ferrari full of Victoria's Secret models on a blazing day in South Beach. And the hot-blooded Latin passion that pours out of her sexy skin only adds fuel to the fire...
From her dark hair and dark, mysterious eyes, to her amazing lips, Salma's exotic features can be attributed to her Lebanese and Mexican heritage. There isn't one thing about her that isn't perfect.
And don't get us started on her body -- the curves, behind and chest she displayed at the 2003 Oscar Awards were enough to make us want to get into a fight club of our own with Edward Norton (whom she was dating at the time). Not that Salma even needs designer threads to look good, but when she does get dolled up in evening gowns, we are at her mercy. Whether it was the black lace number she wore to the 2003 Golden Globes or the red low-cut dress she wore to that year's Oscar ceremony, Salma Hayek boasts our favorite female figure and she knows how to display it just right.