Salma Hayek´s first remark makes him almost speechless. Top director Roland Emmerich
reacts by encouraging the Hollywood star to really give everything
Roland Emmerich coquets with alleged lacks of his preparation in the homecountry:
"At the film university of Munich noone ever mentioned the fact that one has to be photographed for hours",
groans the German who has belonged to the kings of US cinema for years.
The director takes to the cigarette releived when the
VOGUE photographer finally packs up the camera. His discussion and shooting partner is substantially more relaxed:
Salma Hayek leans her head against Emmerich´s shoulder and begins too chat with him about Mexico - her
native country and Emmerich´s chosen living place besides Hollywood. Her bronze skin and her black curls contrast
with his paleness and his short grey hair; in many ways both correspend with the typical image of the classical Latina or the
typical Central European: During the VOGUE discussion Emmerich sits almost motionlessly on the couch, while Salma
Hayek can´t hardly remain calm for one minute - she jumps up, gesticulates, moves her hands, and when she mentions
her favorite salsa club she starts dancing spontaniously through the studio. But perhaps Emmerich remains in sweet devotion because of her
compliment at the beginning of the conversation?
Salma Hayek: Let me say one thing at the beginning: I think you are unbelievably smart.
Roland Emmerich: Thank you. But we just got to meet each other.
Salma Hayek: No, no. I judge you by your films. There´s this German that makes
the most American movies of the latest years like Independance Day and The Patriot.
Roland Emmerich: When I was 12 and one of my
brothers wanted to go to Ireland in his holidays and the other one to France, my father asked me
where I wanted gladly to go. I said: " America. " And he:
" Why not? " Thus I traveled alone to America when I was a child- since then
I´ve been in love with this country.
Salma Hayek: I believe in a different
theory. I believe, you study humans quite exactly here, their
mentality and their fantasies. And these visions are based on the
illusion that Americans are the absolute heroes of the world.
They themvelseves don´t realize that in such a way. But outsiders like you
and me register this phenomenon immediately.
Roland Emmerich: The view from the outside surely plays a large role.
I realize that because of my uneasiness in relation to the
typical enemy pictures, which the film industry maintains here in
Hollywood - as for instance the Germans, the Arabs, the Turks and the
Salma Hayek: How does it actually happen that
Americans always protect from the end of the world?
Roland Emmerich: In my current
movie The Patriot Americans do not save the world, but their own
skins. And also Independence Day wasn´t developed with the intention of
making a superpatriotic film. My partner (co-producer Dean Devlin)is half Filipino, half Jew.
I am German. Therefore we decided for three main figures:
From the two pilots one was
Jewish, the other one was dark-skinned, and the US president was a
typical WASP - a " White Anglo Saxon protestant ". Then we looked for a
day on which America is most vulnerable- the independence day particularly because everyone celebrates then.
Salma Hayek: Roland, you needn´t defend yourself.
I am making you a compliment...
Roland Emmerich: And do not forget, my German
compatriot and colleague in Hollywood, Wolfgang Petersen, also made a very
patriotic film, Air Force One.
Salma Hayek: Nevertheless one can see that you
studied humans here up to perfection...
Roland Emmerich: You are right. I am an observer.
Belongs to my job. If I am in Mexico - I bought a house in Puerto
Vallarta -, I also observe the Mexicans exactly. They have quite different
attitudes towards the USA than Germans have. Some of my
friends in Mexico cannot pend America!
Salma Hayek: I believe, there exists much rivalry
among unequal neighbours.
Roland Emmerich: If a Mexican goes into the
he does it for economic reasons - not, because he would like to turn the back to his country.
In contrast to that Germans felt collectively guilty after
the war. Even people like me, who were born after 1945. And I had
always the strange feeling that we all wanted to be
Salma Hayek: Do you want to become an official
citizen of the United States?
Roland Emmerich: No. My roots are situated in
Germany. I feel as German and also do not want to become old in Hollywood.
I will spend my old age somewhere in Europe, perhaps in
Italy. L A. is too big, too anonymous.
Salma Hayek: You are already thinking of your retirement?
I never thought about that seriously. I only know: I would love to
withdraw myself into a house at the sea. Or on a farm with many
animals. Best: a farm directly at the sea! Are you afraid of
Roland Emmerich: No. I think being old is an interesting
phase of life. I always considered old faces to be very expressive.
However the fact that the life is so
condemned short makes me depressive. It just passes too fast!
I have the need to fill out every second. And this doubt, whether I achieved
everything in my life that I could have, constantly nags at me.
Salma Hayek: Nevertheless you´ve come
enormously far in your life. Such thoughts do not trouble me actually:
I live so intensively that I never have the feeling of not using my time in an optimal way.
Roland Emmerich: The question arises, whether
relaxing, to simply do nothing occasionally, really is wasted time.
It must be possible to not think of anything at times.
Salma Hayek: There is still another
difference between you and me: You are a director and I am an actress.
And as such it is possible for me fool life. I
can live several fates in my roles, not only my own. Too bad
the day has only 24 hours! I am not oriented at targets;
however I love the process. The whole life is a process.
Roland Emmerich: Speaking about long life. What do you
actually drink there? Looks healthy.
Salma Hayek: I have a quite strange
allergy: I can´t stand synthetic vitamines, thus no appropriate
tablets or powders. I have no problems with
fruit and fruit juices though. This for example is a juice from freshly pressed pears,
pineapple and peaches.
Roland Emmerich: Good girl - your mother would
be surely content with you. Mine always fears that I smoke too much
and eat too few, which applies both. But I rather resemble my
father, he doesn´t care much about his health. Allegedly one is
supposed to be checked by a physician once a year - I only make it
every three or four years.
I would not bear to torment me in a fitness studio regularly.
But I love extended walks.
I enjoy living in LA therefore. I cannot only do my job here
but there are also large parks in which I can
run for hours without seeing a human being.
Roland Emmerich: The ability of the body to adjust to certain circumstances
surprises me again and again. During work I hardly eat
something, smoke without a break, drink
coffee and sleep little. And that for many weeks. There are probably
unbelievable quantities of adrenalin discharged... Paradox is: If
I do not work so hard, I get tired faster.
Salma Hayek: I never smoked. As a teanafer I was
not allowed, and later...
Roland Emmerich: Were you educated strictly?
Salma Hayek: Yes, I grew up in a Catholic family.
And the religion influenced my value system. However I reject the rituals
prescribed by the church for example to have to go
to the fair every Sunday.
Roland Emmerich: But the conception, which you have
from God, was shaped by the Catholic church.
Salma Hayek: I do not have a picture of God before
my eyes. I never saw a representation of God. Figures of Jesus. But I
think, that is something else. How is your attitude towards
Roland Emmerich: Faith is somewhat very personal.
And therefore faith should be organized in no way. If religion is
equated with church, I can say with a pure conscience that I am not religious.
But naturally I have value conceptions, which go into the
mirror-image-ritual. Quite simply expressed: I believe that I am
recompenced for good acts that my concerning affects my presentness.
Salma Hayek: Here you have a chance for a good act:
I need your advice.
Roland Emmerich: Cordial thanks for the supply.
Salma Hayek: Perhaps you know that I own a
production company. We develop projects for television. And we
operate on two films. Recently something unusual occurred: The
president of a cable network calls me and says to me, he observeded me
privately and professionally.
He said he was sure I´d be a good director. I answered spontaneously: No, I cannot do that.
Roland Emmerich: Wrong. You should take the challenge in any case.
You can only learn thereby. I´ve co-operated with Mel Gibson for months,
and I could see clearly that he became a
better actor, since he had also directed his own movie. He feels it himself.
Salma Hayek: This offer came so
surprisingly. A small shock!
Roland Emmerich: You are intelligent and direct to people.
You do not fear to say what you want and that is the first rule for a successful director.
Salma Hayek: I slope to agitate people. My
mother even says my real profession is being a dictator.
Roland Emmerich: Very well! I am exactly the same way,
and therefore I became a director. Originally I dreamt about
a career as a filmarchitect. But I was like so straight in my
opinions and requests that everyone said: With these attitudes you´ll ruin the films.ilms of the directors.
of the directors. Either you change, or you become a
Salma Hayek: I thought my next reaction was
interesting then: I read the film script and began critizising and changing details.
I developed a vision how the film should
look. During the discussion I told the producers: I like the
script; but I have toconfess I would do a complete redraft. They
said, okay, let us hear your ideas.
Roland Emmerich: And what happened?
Salma Hayek: They thought my suggestions were good. Therefore
I´ll do it! (she jumps up and dances some Salsa
Roland Emmerich: You asked me for advice. Here it is:
A director has to know his movie in every single detail. You have to answer 2000
questions per day precisively without any discussions. That´s why you need the element of
dictatorship. What you say has to be done otherwise the project will end up being something else.
Salma Hayek: As director my Spanish accent wouldn´t play a role anymore.
Roland Emmerich: An accent does not have to necessarily limit
the role selection in Hollywood, does it? Arnold
Schwarzenegger did not give himself trouble to lose his
accent. Or Armin Mueller-Stahl: Despite his very German accent
he continuously gets good roles.
Salma Hayek: Possibly. But I think that I miss some chances, because one cannot imagine certain characters with
an accent. In the film one must find an assertion for it then, as for
instance in Wild Wild West in which I played the daughter of a Mexican
Roland Emmerich: I was once at the set of Wild Wild West
- unfortunately at one of your days off. There they filmed an
even somewhat erotic scene: Smith with a pretty young woman in a
Salma Hayek: This scene had very unpleasant
consequences. The director was dissatisfied with the shoot: For some reason
the woman did not correspond with his
expectations. Therefore the scene was shot again with another actress.
Everyone had totally forgotten about that, up to the
day of the premiere. There I saw the woman of the first shot
on the red carpet. Nobody had told her she had been cut out of
the film. Now she goes proudly and hopeful to the premiere, expects a
large career effort - and she is not at all in the film. How terrible!
And embarrassing. Something like that must be hell!
Roland Emmerich: Terrible. I take care of the fact that
actors that are cut out of the film - and that occurs from time to time
-, get a friendly letter, a video cassette of their scene,
an encouragement. I care about that a lot.
Salma Hayek: You seem to be really involved in all details
of your projects. What are you planning next?
Roland Emmerich: I have still no idea. I live
completely for a project, until it starts in the cinemas. I only
start thinking about something new afterwards.
Which I´ve carried around for a long time is a film
about Egypt and the Pharao
Tutanchamun. Hopefully I´ll find time for it now!
But you are right, I
tend to load everything on my shoulders. I do not want that no more.
I don´t want to write the film myself any longer. I must learn to
concentrate on my own work - and to arrange everything else.
Salma Hayek: I am a workaholic like you. Nobody
outside of the filmbusiness has an idea of how hard one
must work in order to complete a project. Unbelievably! But I
take time for other things as well. For my family. For my private life.
As today for example: Afterwards I´ll go to the basketball. The
Lakers play, I must be there.
Roland Emmerich: I am not interested in basketball that much.
But my partner Dean wears his Lakers jacket even in important meetings.
Salma Hayek: Lakers jacket? That is still nothing
at all: I missed only one play of the Lakers. Once we were behind so
far that alone a prayer could still help: Dear God, I thought, if we win
I will wear purple hair next time.
Roland Emmerich: Because purple is one is the colours of
Exactly. A few minutes before the end we were behind with 13 points.
But we won! The next time I came with a purple wig indeed.. I like sports.
Boxing is fabulous. And football. I won´t forgive the Germans one
thing: You kicked out Mexico in the last world championship.
Do you have an idea where I was during the game? In Mexico in a bar with a huge
screen. A local friend warned me with a gesture (gestures his hand over his mouth like closing a zipper)
O God, if they had heard your German accent.
Nothing would have happened to me. I love Mexico.
This country is the ideal Gegengewicht to me life here.
That´s why I bought this house in Puerto Vallarte and had it
renoviert(??). My architect asked me if he should make a filmroom out of one of the
large rooms. I disagreed. I wanted to keep a distance to my work.
That wouldn´t be possible in Los Angeles.
Everythings´about movies here.
Right. I have to be drastic here.
People around me are used to asking me about anything at any time.
I say no now. I want to fly to an art exhibition in London and don´t
want to hear more. That´s my personal education process.
Art seems to be something that attracts as both.
When I was young I used to paint a lot.
But in the end I decided for making movies.
But art has been important to me since then.
Now I bought a flat in New York because I
discovered theater - in the past I thought nothing was more boring
than theather. But the main reason is I love
exploring galleries in New York. I buy paintings all the time.
My favorite is an Indian called Bari Kumar right now. I´ll be moving soon
so that I have more space for all my paintings.
I spend my money on art too.
I buy few clothes - actresses have the privilege to get
glamorous clothes by designers. But art is my passion. I can totally forget about
I am more controlled. My rule that I obey strictly is: Never buy
a painting that costs more than 15000$. Even if I like a 30000$ painting
so much I stay strong.
That wouldn´t be possible with me. I adore the work of
Frida Kahlo passionately. Once I discovered one of her paintings
that was up for bids at Sothebys. I had to have it.
Roland Emmerich: Oje ...
Wait you´ll hear a very crazy story.
Parts of the US army were on duty in Kosovo.
The soldiers could chose which celebrity they wanted to see.
They didn´t choose Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz but me!
I felt it was a great honor.
They flew me to the warzone in a helicopter. I heard shots and I saw
the men in uniform. But at the same time there was this auction in New
York. It was swirling in my head: I am witness of a war. Humans are dying.
I am the wanted celebrity by the troops.
I have to have the painting. I had an agent called to the auction.
I gave him limits and changed them every other minute.
I increased the limits and drove the man mad. Then I couldn´t sleep at
night. Because of the war? No because I didn´t know if I had the painting or mot.
Isn´t that terrible? Then he called and said: "You have it"
It cost a fortune but I own it now.
What impresses you most with Frida Kahlo?
Honestly I don´t want to speak about it.
I am preparing a movie on her right now and
I fear to talk to much about the subject before the project has begun.
You have to do it. Frida Kahlo was an extra-ordinary woman.
I tell you something: When I visited her house in Mexico City
I thought it was so wonderful that I had her windows rebuilt
for my house.
Really? You have to invite me.
I will propose Mexican painters to you that are in your
price range. And I´ll cook for you. I make sensational "Pfannekuchen"
(pancakes, but she pronounces the word in German).
We have German relatives that have taught me.
Wonderful and you must take the chance and direct.
Then you´ll have to deal with all exciting aspects of film:
architecture, photography, writing, lighting and music.
Music is already part of my life. There is a bar in LA called
"El Floridita". There is no place for better Salsa music.
Strangers often dance with me there. I like it.
Most of them are fantastic dancers - really hot.
The conversation was conducted by Elmar Biebl
© HayekHeaven. Transcript by Coffee/ Translation by Jacinda