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Once Upon A Time in Mexico - Salma Hayek Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Interviewed at the Regency Hotel, New York, August 22, 2003.

Q: Did you know you could sing before Robert Rodriguez asked you to sing in the movie?
A:
No, I was very insecure about that. Robert is telling everyone that I told him, 'yes, let's do it, I'll sing'! I did - but that happened at a party at three in the morning!
When he called me and reminded me, I had forgotten all about it. I took my mother to the studio when I had to sing. I begged her to come. She is an opera singer, so that helped. Robert is always doing things like that to me. I thought I couldn't do the stunts and he made me do them, and I thought that I couldn't dance with a snake and he made me do that, too. That guy is really pushy.

Q: How did you feel hanging over the balcony in the action sequence?
A:
It was painful. And I am not in very good condition, so my body went into shock. I just couldn't move my head or my fingers afterwards. I had to soak myself in hot water at night and get a massage - get energy to restore the muscles.

Q: Was it a shock coming straight to this film from Frida?
A:
It was a shock. Twelve hours before I started work with Robert, I was playing a cripple.
Then, with him, I was jumping off balconies. First, when he told me he was shooting Desperado 2, I said that I couldn't do it as I was doing Frida. I said he would have to cut me out.
To cut a long story short, he waited for me. I just came for the last couple of weeks. That's why I am a 'ghost' in the movie [Hayek only appears in the flashback sequences].
He just told me to improvise when I got there, as I was playing the same role as last time. When I got there, the first thing that happened was he told me to jump out of a window for that stunt.
I asked for a stunt woman, but Robert wound me up by saying, "It would be the girl who can't do the stunts." So I did it. It was very painful. In the future, I think am going to show it to my grandchildren to show them how fit I was!

Q: How did your Oscar nomination affect your career?
A:
I'm not sure it did. Everyone liked the film, so it was more likely that which helped me.

Q: How do you remember your time on Frida?
A:
It was a great, long episode in my life. She will always have a place in my heart.

Q: Do you feel empty now that you have succeeded in fulfilling your dream with Frida?
A:
No, it's fabulous. It's great to dream something and then bring it to life, to experience it with your body. You can envision something with your mind and step into that dream. I was lucky. I had a passionate dream and I made it real. When it was over, I felt I had accomplished something. Then I went on to dream a new dream.

Q: What is your new dream?
A:
I want a farm with chickens. A farm where I can get the eggs from the chickens and cook them. I have a lot of new dreams. But you have to accomplish the old dreams to make room for the new ones. Chickens and goats - for goat's cheese - and some lettuce, too, that's a dream!

Q: Do you think you are a commercial actress?
A:
Well, I sell magazines when they put me on the cover. So that must mean something. But people don't think of me as a commercial actress. I don't mind. I don't want to get over exposed in the media.

Q: How important is your private life?
A:
Well, my career is not a priority. Life itself is my priority. I am doing a movie now because I like the people in the movie. We are shooting in the Bahamas. I can take it easy. But you have to work to keep life interesting.

Q: You just produced a family film, The Maldonado Miracle. But there is a lot of gun violence in Once Upon A Time In Mexico. How do you console the two?
A:
Robert Rodriguez is a family man, too. Honestly, I didn't read the script until I arrived. I trust him. When I saw the movie, I was taken aback. But I found myself laughing at the violence. Somebody gets shot with a little gun and he flies through the air for 20 metres. It's funny. I think it's like making fun of violence. It makes fun of the way they do violence in movies, like Tarantino does. It's not real life.

Q: It's good that you shot Once Upon A Time ... in Mexico. So many times they will not film Mexican locations in Mexico.
A:
It's not a realistic depiction of Mexico. But it is Mexico. Frida was my love letter to Mexico. But I don't want to go through life being a professional Mexican. I think the best thing I can do for Mexico is be an individual.
Being an individual makes people question whether they really know what it is to be Mexican. It forces people to see you as a human, not a stereotype. That's the best way to help Mexico.

Q: Did people love Frida in Mexico as much as elsewhere?
A:
There were some journalists who were very harsh. But it was not really the film they were attacking - it was about me. Someone said I should never play Frida because Frida was an ugly woman with a beautiful soul, and I was the reverse.
When journalists start criticising your soul, it becomes like voodoo stuff. I think it might have been because I don't give interviews on a regular basis, like most Mexican actors. I don't give an interview just because I go to the shops, I have to be promoting a film. I think they are angry at me because of this. I think the people in Mexico liked the film. It's just 12 people in the press who made a lot of noise.

Q: Were you once turned-down for a science-fiction movie in Hollywood because the producers said there wouldn't be a Mexican in space?
A:
Yes. But things are better now. Once they start seeing money they become colour blind. I'm not there yet, but I am in a good place. Anyway, I don't take it personally.

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