When Mexican painter Frida Kahlo became well-known in all
the world, it was just a matter of time till anybody wanted to film her polemic
existence. Salma Hayek got involved in this mission as if her life depended on
Since the shooting of "Frida" started in our country, the
press and even the public have gone nuts in order to know of any detail
concerning this production. If that comes from the fact that everything that is
forbidden claims attention (there's been just a few or none access to the sets
or contact between the stars and the press), or the mere fanatism towards the
painter or the actress who plays her, it is still unknown.
Meanwhile, Cinemanía got to sneak into the Estudios
Churubusco, place where most of the filming took place. Here we "exhibit" some
of the people responsible of this so expected Frida's dream:
How did you decorate the sets? Did you get antique objects or
were they made specifically for the movie?
Basically we rented them in antique houses; a lot of furniture
was also constructed, other were bought in la Lagunilla or in the Callejón del
Sapo, in Puebla.
The recreation of Frida's house you made is incredible. Why
didn't you shoot in the original house instead?
Throughout time the house has suffered many changes, since
Frida was born until she lived there with Diego. It was decided to have a
controled set so we could work on it, specially with arquitectonic changes and
the transformation the garden has suffered. The furniture, including the wall
paper, had to be recreated by decorator Hannia Robledo, who had some similiar
stuff brought from England.
Who recreated the famous murals?
That was the titanic labor of two teams; one for Frida's work
and the other for Diego Rivera's, because more important than anything were his
murals. Mariano Grimaldo heads Diego's team, he studied in La Esmeralda and
knows the fresco's technique really well. With a great team of painters they've
spent several weeks working on that.
How did you choose the locations?
Above all, we looked for locations were we didn't have to make
that much changes and, of course, which could resemble the era as much as
possible and were there wasn't that much advertising. We had to cover some
publicity, light registres, a lot of details; for that, the streets of San Luis
were perfect. Most Coyoacán was recreated in Puebla, in San Angel we just shot
Diego's house/study, not the exteriors, because there's a big avenue close to
it. The publicity of the era was elaborated here in the graphic design
department and we got borrowed some of the cars: it has been an
excellent team labor.
What have you liked the most about this project?
That there is a lot of contrast. We have in one set a house
from the beginning of the century from Coyoacán and in front the scenario of the
Rockefeller Center lobby in New York. The carpenters, painters, technicians and
the whole personal have done an extraordinary work. My favorite scene is when
Diego cheats on Frida with her sister and she decides to cut her hair; we
created a tridimensional set of the self-portrait she made of herself; she's in
a chair with the floor in perspective, inclinated, and we did a chair in
perspective and the result is undescribable, just as if Frida was getting out of
the painting. That was probably the cheapest set of the movie, but it also was
the most spectacular.
How did you do the casting? Did you take the physonomy of
the actors as the most important quality?
Yes, I auditioned about two thousand people here and
another bunch in Puebla and San Luis Potosí. I saw about six
Did you require special costumes for each extra?
Indeed. For example, in Puebla the Día de Muertos
was recreated and we went to Tlaxcala, were almost an entire
village participated and acted. Julie Weiss, the costume director,
rented clothes from that era in New York. We also had a 300-people march and
everyone was given a costume.
Which other "famous" people play "famous" people?
Geoffrey Rush is Trotsky, Roger Rees plays Frida's father,
Diego Luna is Alejandro, her first boyfriend, Patricia Reyes Spíndola is
Matilde, Frida's mother and, well, there's Ashley Judd as Tina Modotti,
Antonio Banderas as David Alfredo Siqueiros and Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera,
it's a lot of people.
How has working with Salma been?
She's a very dedicated person, it wouldn't surprise me is she
were nominated for an Oscar, because she has really commited to Frida. It's
impressive how she's gotten inside the role and the way she has cooperated
Was there any difficulty transporting the material for the
sets, make up, etc...?
Not at all, everything was transported by bus and some
stuff was bought on location. For example, in San Luis we shot the entire train
accident sequence; that train worked by an hydraulic system which was all built
Did you have any difficulty during the casting
People cooperate really well; I think there was only a bit of
difficulty when a Paris coffee shop was recreated in Puebla. It was complicated
to contact extras with a more European type, because not always do they want to
appear on screen. Foreign people have other mentality.
JEAN MARIE MURPHY-BURKE
How difficult was it to recreate the era?
The film covers a ground from the 20's to the 50's, so we're
talking about four different looks respecting makeup, haircuts and costumes. In
Salma's case it was required to "do" Frida since age 18 until before she died,
her transition to woman and how she acquired her own style. This was a
very intense labor for the production people, and, of course, for the
We know you've worked on "Gia", "The Pelican Brief", "Pay
It Forward" and that you've traveled all around the world. What have you thought
about working in Mexico?
I've been to Rusia, Africa, Thailand and Canada, but Mexico is
enormous, it's like a labyrinth to me. I never know where I am, but I've loved
how people want to work, they do it happily even if they've been shooting for 12
hours in a row and they're always willing to cooperate. I haven't seen that in
other countries. The disposition to work here is impressive, they know what they
do and they know that in movies time means money, so I'm very
There has been a lot of talk about Salma and your attitude towards the press...
The only thing Salma wants is to concentrate on her work
and people don't leave her alone. She's very professional and her character
is very emotional; it is a lot of pressure for her, the movie rests on her
shoulders. We've been like that because a lot of people has been involved in the
project, Madonna, Jennifer; Salma has fought hardly for this; she took the
project to Miramax and she personally talked to some of the actors she wanted
for the movie because there was not a big budget, many of them are here because
Does the movie have a special point-of-view because the
director, the producer and most of the responsible staff are
That's true, Frida was much talked-about because she was quite
liberal for her time; she was bisexual when that was considered a taboo, her
relationship with Diego was also questioned a lot. Julie Taymor is a great woman
and she's got a spectacular vision. This is her second movie, the first one was
"Titus", based on a Shakespeare's play and starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica
Lange; she likes the great plays, she's using her great theatrical vision to
understand Frida's art and her pain. But besides the feminine influence, I'm
sure anybody who's a movie lover will enjoy it.
There's reporters from all around the world who have wanted to
know more about the movie and get photographs, but everything has been quite
It's just that in the first week of shooting we had four or
five London TV stations - CNN, NBC, APT. Everyone wanted interviews, with the
few information they were asking for and the one we had they could be doing a
movie of their own. Concerning this, next week comes photograoher Annie
Liebowitz to work for five days with the actors in their characterizations;
she's a very famous person, very busy, and it was her who asked us to do this