«House of Gucci» and Marvel’s «Eternals»: actress and producer Salma Hayek talks about her multifaceted projects, her missed Olympic opportunity as an artistic gymnast and her television evenings with her… owl.
Salma Hayek, do you share the opinion that «Eternals», directed by Oscar winner Chloé Chao, is an unusual Marvel film?
Yes, it’s hard to believe that the director of «Nomadland» is making such a big movie. After all, even his previous films were low-budget and intimate. She has also managed to illuminate the Marvel universe from an intimate perspective. It really is a different kind of superhero movie.
What attracted you most about your role?
I play the leader of the Eternals and bring them to planet Earth. Chloé was very receptive to my idea of playing the leader in a different way, like a mother who guides her children. I was also drawn to the fact that I could play a superhero at age 55 and as a Mexican.
The Eternals live for thousands of years. What do you think of immortality?
I think we are all immortal. The body dies, but we don’t.
Would teenage Salma Hayek have been surprised if she had known then that, at 55, she would be playing a superheroine and producing various films?
Yes, I’m sure she would have been surprised. At the time, I was hoping to have a career, but I never imagined she would be like this. If it hadn’t been for my fear and naivety at the time, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. Sometimes fear and ingenuity are exactly what it takes to leap into the unknown and move forward as an artist.
Is it true that she was also an excellent artistic gymnast at the time?
I was asked to train for the Olympic team when I was nine years old. I discovered gymnastics through Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci on TV. At first I trained alone because we didn’t have an artistic gymnastics coach. Then I convinced my father to let me train in Mexico City for the summer. I entered the team and college. The director not only praised my athletic side, but also thought I had the attitude of an Olympic champion.
Why didn’t anything come of it?
My father was against it. He thought I would lose my childhood. I was still very young and from a small town. I only recently forgave him, because I didn’t want a childhood, I wanted to go to the Olympics!
Instead, she came to Los Angeles and left for Hollywood. How do you decide which roles to take on today?
I try not to think too much about it or wonder if it’s a smart move for my career now. Sometimes I accept because I want to work with a certain director, sometimes because I just want to spend some time with a friend or because the place and the moment are perfect. Most of the time there is something to discover about the story, sometimes something profound and sometimes I don’t really understand what it is. But something has to move me.
The film «Bliss», one of your latest works, which can be seen on Amazon Prime, probably belongs to this head-spinning category?
Director Mike Cahill designed the film so that audiences can build their own universe and film it. Some might just see a story about two people with a drug problem, others a simulated world or an unconventional sci-fi love story that isn’t about saving the world. Owen and I laughed a lot and even argued. It was a wonderful adaptation.
Behind the camera, he dedicates himself to the life of a boob… as producer of the series «A Boob’s Life». How should it be interpreted?
It’s about a woman who, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, looks back at her life from the point of view of her breasts and begins to realize so many things she wasn’t aware of before. The show is a comedy in the style of «Fleabag». It’s about how others are obsessed with our breasts and what it does to us.
And then there is also «House of Gucci», a film by Ridley Scott with Lady Gaga, in which she has a very appropriate role, because she is married to François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of the Kering group, which also owns Gucci …
Yes, and my soulmate, Ridley’s wife, Giannina Facio, produced the film. He’s from Costa Rica. I can’t help but rave about this! Lady Gaga is a fantastic woman. We are becoming good friends.
Away from your life on film sets and fashion shows, do you also have cozy TV evenings at home?
Yes, certainly. My husband and I like to watch TV together. We also comment on everything and then have to go back because we missed something. When my husband isn’t home, I have another perfect TV partner: our owl.
Yes, it’s called Kering, like the company, because the company logo is an owl. I gave it to my husband, but it’s actually a gift to me. He loves technical devices, he flies from iPad to TV and even on my head. It’s so much fun for me to sit in front of the TV with him.
What do you like to watch together?
The owl doesn’t care about the program. During the lockdown due to the pandemic, I wanted to watch something with many seasons for coma-glotting. So we started watching series with Chicago in the title: «Chicago Fire», «Chicago Med», etc. I never thought I’d watch these series. There is so much Latin talent to discover in them.