"In the 1990s, I was basically told that I was not allowed to be smart or funny on screen."
While Magic Mike's Last Dance has just been released in the United States, Salma Hayek Pinault returned in an interview for GQ UK on the image of "sexy girl" to which Hollywood has confined her until a fairly advanced age. "Since my early days, I wanted to act in comedies but I was never offered any, I was always cast to play the same type of female character! I had to wait until I was in my 40s to finally get a comedy role, in Buddies Forever with Adam Sandler in 2010. Before that, I was basically told that I wasn't allowed to be smart or funny on screen." When asked if this situation, specific to the 90s and 2000s, still makes her angry, she said:
"It made me very sad at the time, but since things have changed since then and I now have the freedom to play any role, while I was once told that I would be outdated at the age I am now, I must say that now I find it pretty funny!"
Nevertheless, the star recounted the traumatic experience she had during the filming of Frida, released in 2002. Passionate about Frida Kahlo's work and life since she was a teenager, Hayek had not only played the artist's character but also co-produced her biopic, contacted her descendants and negotiated the rights to use the paintings. Unfortunately, she had also had the idea to propose to Harvey Weinstein to participate in the production.
"Weinstein asked me for massages and oral sex, which I always refused"
A choice that she will say, fifteen years later, have bitterly regretted in the pages of the New York Times. "He repeated to me that the only thing that I had for me, it was my sex-appeal, and that he did not see a trace of it in the film. He asked me for massages and fellatio, which I always refused, and that made him angry, he became horribly machiavellian with me. For him, I was not an artist, I was not even a person, I was just a body." Frida would later become a critical success and even earn Salma an Oscar nomination. "But it didn't move my situation at all, contrary to what I hoped: I continued to be offered stereotypical roles and I struggled for a long time for that to change."
It would not be until 2017 that Salma Hayek's career would change for good, when screenwriter Mike White, future showrunner of The White Lotus, offered the actress the lead role in Beatriz At Dinner, a comedy-drama in which she played a masseuse invited to dinner by her wealthy clients. A social satire that explored the gray area where her character evolved, no longer quite an employee, but not really a guest like the others either.
"Mike and the rest of his team came to me and said, 'You're an even more exciting comedian than you think you are.' And it inevitably excited me to see that these people had thought of such a project for me."
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