Salma Hayek, actress, diva, you name it…
By Jose RuilobaAnyone who knows me well knows I’m a huge fan of Mexican actress Salma Hayek. That’s not to say I think she’s the best actress out there, or the most beautiful. I think she’s got a combination of many different factors that make her something very special. She’s definitely gorgeous, talented and a fighter in the truest sense of the word. I love her and I’m here to talk about Salma’s career.
Salma started as a soap actress in Mexico. She gained special recognition for her appearance in “Teresa,” but it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She wanted to make movies. She wanted to be famous. So she packed her bags and came to the United States. She didn’t even speak English, but that wouldn’t stop her. As everyone knows, it ain’t that easy for a common person to make it in Hollywood that fast. Salma spent three years trying to find something to do. She landed a small role in “The Sinbad Show,” but she hated it. She then had the smallest cameo you can imagine in La Vida Loca, a movie that, to be fair, no one saw. Tired of this lack of recognition, she returned to Mexico and filmed El Callejon de los Milagros (Midaq Alley). This movie, ironically, became a worldwide success. It still is one of the best movies Salma has ever done. But it wouldn’t be until Robert Rodriguez put an eye on her that her smashing rise to fame in Hollywood would start…
Salma appeared in a talk show where she talked about how hard it was being for her to succeed in Hollywood. Coincidentally, Robert Rodriguez was watching the show and immediately called her for some auditions. That’s how the bond between them actually started. Eventually, Salma made two movies for Rodriguez: Roadracers and Desperado. This one became the breakthrough movie for its two rising stars: Antonio Banderas and herself. Since then, Salma has appeared in almost every Rodriguez film, from Four Rooms, her memorable turn in the cult movie From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
After Desperado, Salma landed roles in so-so action movies such as Fair Game and Fled. This would do nothing for her career.
But finally, after all those years, Salma got her first starring role in Fools Rush In. Her costar was “Friend”‘s Mathew Perry. And while at first the movie was made as a chance to prove that Perry could also make it in movies, it was Salma who got all the accolades. The movie didn’t become a hit, but it made modest business at the box office. Besides, it received great notices for its star. Salma was better known now, and she had officially entered the Hollywood elite. Her role as a Mexican-American girl who gets pregnant after a one night stand would prove one of her best as well and would also give us a hint of the comedic talent she possesses.
Her next movies would not be very well known. She then went to star in a TV version of “The Hunchback,” where she captivated audiences with her beauty. Breaking Up would mark her debut in the independent circuit. She costarred with Russell Crowe in this movie based on a two-actors play. After this movie she starred in The Velocity of Gary alongside Thomas Jane and Vincent D’Onofrio, and even though the movie had good intentions with an anti-AIDS message, it ended up horribly. Too bad.
It was 1998 when the highly anticipated 54 was finally released. There had been a lot of controversy surrounding the movie. Miramax forced director Mark Christopher to cut a lot of scenes from it which made it more sexually explicit and with a much more interesting storyline. And even though the movie starred Mike Myers, Ryan Phillipe, Neve Campbell and Salma, there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it from becoming just a so-so movie.
After all these nightmares, Salma had a great year in 1999. She went to Cannes representing two of her new movies: El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba (No One Writes To The Colonel) and Dogma. The first one was a Mexican movie directed by Arturo Ripstein. Once again, Salma had made a very good movie in her native country. Dogma, on the other hand, received quite a lot of attention. Kevin Smith was behind this movie, which dealt with religious matters in a somewhat irreverent way. Starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Salma, Linda Fiorentino, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Alanis Morisette, Jason Mewes, Janeane Gaerofalo, and many others, the movie received great reviews and performed really well at the box office. In other words, a hit. Although a very controversial one.
Then came the highly publicized Wild Wild West starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh. I do admit it wasn’t the best of all movies, but I didn’t think it was the disastrous bomb everyone called it. Anyway, it became the first 100-plus million grosser in which Salma has participated. That’s something.
In 2000, Salma appeared in the revolutionary Time Code directed by Mike Figgis. The movie arrived with a lot of hype. It was the first movie to be shot in digital video, with one uninterrupted take of 93 minutes and divided in four quadrants telling different stories. The movie was mostly ad-libbed, and Salma got some of the best notices she has received in the US. Some people loved the movie, some didn’t. But the fact is, no one will ever forget it.
Next up Salma shot a movie called Chain of Fools with Steve Zahn, Jeff Goldblum, Claudia Schiffer, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood and many more. The Warner Bros. picture hasn’t been released yet in the United States, not even on TV. She also had a cameo in Steven Soderbergh’s highly anticipated Traffic, along Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Benicio del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Don Cheadle, which marked the only movie in which Salma has been that has received an Oscar nom for Best Picture. Steven Soderbergh went on to win the Best Director trophy.
That same year Salma emigrated to Spain to shoot La Gran Vida (Living It Up). It was released in the country to a great response.
In 2001, Salma starred in and produced the TV movie In the Time of the Butterflies, about four sisters living in the time of Dictator Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Marc Anthony co-starred. The movie aired in Showtime and got great notices for its star, including awards and nominations.
And then came Frida, which changed Salma’s career. She was able to take off her long-in-development project about the life of Frida Kahlo. The Miramax picture had Geoffrey Rush, Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Alfred Molina and Edward Norton in it. Frida was received with mostly positive reviews and went up to win 6 Oscar nominations. It was Salma’s first Oscar nomination, but the feat of making such a beautiful movie which she had been hoping to make for such a long time proved a more rewarding feeling.
After such success with critics and audiences alike, Salma starred in two Robert Rodriguez movies which also became box office hits. They were two sequels: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Both starred Antonio Banderas as well.
Salma also had the time to make her directorial debut with Showtime’s The Maldonado Miracle, starring Peter Fonda and Ruben Blades. The movie got great reviews for the director. It also earned Salma her first Emmy.
Salma has 5 movies slated to open soon, two of which have already been shot. First there’s After the Sunset, with Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson. The movie is a romantic thriller directed by Brett Ratner. She then has Sian Ka’an, the first truly Latin animated movie in which she lent her voice for the main character.
Salma is currently shooting Ask the Dust with Colin Farrell and Donald Sutherland in South Africa under the helm of Robert Towne. The movie is based on the acclaimed John Fante novel set in 1930s Los Angeles. She will then star in Robert Altman’s Paint with James Franco. The movie is going to be a thriller set in the Gotham art scene. Finally she’s set to star alongside friend Penelope Cruz in Western, which Luc Besson will produce.
So as you see, Salma is doing great. People in Mexico should be very proud of her. She lights up the screen. She’s got charisma and talent. Salma is here to stay. And we’ll be here to support. No question about that…