Salma Hayek: ‘Weinstein would scream at me – “I did not hire you to look ugly!”‘ | Salma Hayek

SAlma Hayek is terribly jet lagged, which is one of the dangers of having homes around the world and often jumping between them. “Let me tell you about my madness,” she says in video chat from her home in west London. “I’m here for less than a week, then I’m going back [to the US] for five days for my husband’s work, then I come back here for my work, then I go back to LA because I get a star on Hollywood Boulevard! It is crazy, “she says. After this interview, she has a fitting for dresses for various movie premieres.

“We’re just figuring it out as we go!” she says in annoyance at her crazy life. Despite her fragility, she looks impeccable in a Gucci dress (“As comfortable as your sweats!”), Framed by the huge mirror painting behind her. “It’s over [Takashi] Murakami, ”she says casually about one of the most expensive living artists. She blows a kiss to her husband, François-Henri Pinault, as he leaves the house. Pinault is the CEO of the fashion conglomerate Kering, which is behind brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and many others. The Pinault family’s fortune is estimated at $ 49 billion. It is crazy.

Hayek could easily have chosen the cozy, cozy life as a mega-rich housewife. And to be honest, there are times when she sounds a little like one. Her favorite clothes at the moment are Balenciaga dresses: “I have four that I love,” she says. It helps, of course, that her husband owns the brand. Can she wear brands not owned by her husband? “I’m allowed to do what I want!” she says with scornful indignation, though she adds “it’s just easier to buy it [Kering] brands. They know me there. “

Still, Hayek is not your average gazillionaire’s wife, despite having a walk-in closet that is probably as big as an average house. When she met Pinault, she was 39 and a famous actress with an Oscar nomination for 2002’s Frida. Lots of actors before her had married wealthy men and then disappeared behind the fortress wall; Grace Kelly gave up her career to become Princess of Monaco, and Prince Rainier had a fraction of Pinault’s money. But Hayek, 55, would never do that. “I love what I do,” she says when I ask what motivates her to work. Plus, she says, she pays for her own expenses in her marriage: “Sometimes I struggle because I have a lot of expenses, but I like that feeling. It keeps me real,” she says solemnly. (Remember, Hayeks ” real “is a Hollywood star’s bank balance.)

This month alone, she stars in two films: the latest Marvel mega-film, Eternals, and House of Gucci, the biography of the Gucci family. I have only been allowed to see Eternals, and it is undeniably gratifying to see a female superhero older than 21 – and a deaf, a gay, an Asian and a black – among the seemingly endless Eternals heroes. That casting “feels like a miracle,” she laughs. “It’s going to start somewhere, and I’m glad it’s starting with me!” But good intentions can not hide the fact that the script is a burden (The Guardian gave the film two stars). I ask Hayek if she said yes to starring in it because it was directed by Chloé Zhao, who won an Oscar last year for Nomadland, as she has long been a vocal supporter of female directors. “Yes absolutely. I was in awe of her every second I was with her,” she says. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m working with a Chinese female instructor,’ and there’s a satisfaction in it than the movie: it’s seeing another woman be so brave, be so smart, be so inspiring. “

Salma Hayek and Eternals.
‘I found it fascinating!’ Salma Hayek and Eternals. Photo: Marvel Studios / Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Eternals is Hayek’s first superhero movie – “And I Found It Fascinating!” I ask why she thinks superhero movies are so popular now, but instead of coming up with the usual economic arguments (e.g., they are easier to sell to the Chinese audience than American dramas), she makes a very Hayek: “I have a strange theory about it. It’s out there, so get ready: I ​​think that because we only use from 3% to 10% of our brain, we know that there’s much more in a human being that we have not discovered. So I think the superhero story makes us wonder if there is more we can do. At least that’s what they do to me. ”

By her usual charismatic standards, Hayek is a little flat today due to jet lag. But she warms up on topics she loves, so we talk a little about Frida, her true love work, which she spent eight years getting made. But this unfortunately leads to a topic she’s a little less fond of: Harvey Weinstein, who produced it. In 2017, Hayek wrote a blistering piece for the New York Times describing how he sexually harassed her for years and how she kept saying no:

‘No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him see me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to me getting naked with another woman. No no no no no… And with every rejection came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage. ”

Hayek is understandably not super excited to resume this particular part of her story: “It’s so boring and old!” she groans. But when I tell her that Weinstein bullied me, got me excluded from restaurants and parties and even wrote an article about me because he did not like things I had written, she gets well.

“Now I want to interview you! Now, this is an interesting conversation, because if you really look at my piece, you will see that I really focused on bullying. [rather than the sexual harassment], and I think women got worse [from him]”Weinstein” is not the only man who can reassure himself by knowing that he can destroy women, “she says.

I ask if she normalized his bullying as a way to deal with it.

“To a certain extent. And I felt okay [when he bullied me]. OK, I would shake [afterwards] and it depressed me, but there was a comic book aspect to it all. When he would call me [during the making of Frida] and screams: ‘Why do you have one [monobrow] and mustache? I did not hire you to look ugly! ‘ I thought, ‘But you never saw a picture of Frida Kahlo?’ If a man played Cyrano de Bergerac, he would not say, “What’s up with the nose?”

I begin to ask about her claim in the article that she thinks the reason Weinstein never assaulted her was that she was friends with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney, but she interrupts me. “I was also very strong,” she says sharply.

It sounds a bit like she’s suggesting that some of Weinstein’s victims may be seen as weak, which seems unlikely from a woman who has done so much activism on behalf of women. So I ask if she just thinks she said no.

“I did not just say no. I am a force to be recognized, ”she emphasizes again. “He’s never seen me weak. It’s not because I’m not scared, but you’re not going to see it. I can almost be scary in my calm strength, you know?”

When did she learn to control her fears?

Salma Hayek and Frida, 2002.
‘If a man played Cyrano de Bergerac, he would not say: “What’s up with the nose?”.’ Salma Hayek and Frida, 2002. Photo: Allstar / Miramax

“I do not know. Maybe animals. I have many animals and I know it is very important that they do not smell the fear. But I do not know.”

By the way, she says, Weinstein was “not the first or last” to treat her that way. In Hollywood or in general?

“In general! We are girls!… So you learn to be brave. It’s not easy, but you have to.”

Are there men who bullied or harassed her who are still working in Hollywood?

“I’m sure – it was systematic. But one of my strengths is that I do not harbor resentment, ”she says, adding:“ I also believe that people can change… I am not interested in shameing anyone. I just want it to stop. “

Hayek was born and raised in Mexico, and I ask what was a worse problem for her in Hollywood: the harassment or racism.

“Well, it comes hand in hand. When they do not respect your background, they feel you are weaker and they prey on weakness,” she says.

A few years ago, Hayek revealed in an interview with The Guardian that director Ivan Reitman would not even let her audition for the lead role in a film because the part “was not written in Latin”. What movie was it?

“Ummm, the leading man was, uh, Indiana Jones?”

Harrison Ford?

“Yes! Harrison Ford! The woman was supposed to work in the fashion industry, and ironically, [Reitman] thought it would not be credible to me. It was Six Days, Seven Nights and Anne Heche got the role. And then she came out! Just before the movie was released! And they thought I would not be credible [in a romance with Ford]she shouts.

Did she lose many parts because of her ethnicity?

“So many! I’m not going to name names, but there was one part written for me, for a Mexican, and it was played by not even a Latino,” she says.

And yet she was criticized for playing a Puerto Rican character on 30 Rock, I say.

“Ahhh, it’s complicated because they wrote it to me. Probably if I hadn’t, [that character] would not have happened. As an actress, I want to play Puerto Rican, I want to play Colombians, I want to play Mars! As an actress, that’s what it’s supposed to be. On the other hand, it is good to give people opportunities. But there has to be a balance, because if we limit people too much, everyone will be afraid to do something: ‘You need a name because you have to promote the thing: oh, it’s too complicated, let’s just get one white girl. ‘ So we have to be realistic and find a balance. I’m not black and white about this or anything. ”

Hayek grew up in a wealthy family in Mexico, the daughter of an oil manager and an opera singer. She became hugely famous in her own country at the age of 23 when she starred in a telenovela and slowly broke into Hollywood when Rodriguez cast her in Desperado opposite Antonio Banderas. Shortly after, she founded her own production company, through which she would make Ugly Betty and Frida, the film that truly confirmed her as a star. From an early age, she was an activist to help women, including testifying to the U.S. Senate about re-authorizing the law on violence against women and donating to women shelters. She also bought a ranch, which she uses as an animal sanctuary. For a long time, she assumed she just wanted to live as a single woman with her animals, but then she met Pinault through their mutual friend, the late designer L’Wren Scott. They have a 14-year-old daughter.

In order not to channel Mrs Merton too much, I ask what first appealed to her about the megamillionaire Pinault.

“He’s like no one I’ve ever met before,” she says, clearly enjoying the subject. “He is a fascinating man and it is 16 years ago and I am still fascinated by him. I had met amazing men, but I do not know if anyone saw me as clearly as him. And I know who he is. Something about his soul, I do not know how to explain it, but it is pure. “

During the lockdown, Hayek became dangerously ill with Covid, but refused to go to the hospital and preferred to stay at home. “It was scary. But it was also a little nice to be in the house with him, who is my rock,” she says.

She was 41 when their daughter, Valentina, was born and I ask what the benefits are of being an older mother.

“You appreciate it so much more because when you get there, you’ve been through the fear that it might never happen. You also know what you want with your life, so you have not been pressured by: ‘ What am I going to do with my life? And I’m a mother! ‘ When you get married young, it’s hard, because maybe you do not know who you are yet. I got a little bit smarter, “she says. And when she leaves to get more fittings for her upcoming premieres, Murakami blinks over shoulder, who would disagree?

Eternals is in theaters from November 5th. House of Gucci will be released on November 26th.

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