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Empire On Set

Location: Mexico City Talent: Julie Taymor (Director), Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Ed Norton.

"I’m still pinching myself," says Salma Hayek, scoffing a steak on the steamy set of Frida, her biopic of iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. "When I first saw her paintings, I never dreamed I’d play her one day."

Hayek, however, has done more than dream about the role, ever since first pursuing an earlier gestation of the production when she was just 22. The besieged producers finally responded, phoning her to say, ‘We’re SO not interested. You’re too young. Please stop calling.’ Hayek’s tenacious response? " Fine. The film just won’t be made until I’m old enough to play her."

Ultimately, Hayek turned producer herself, securing film rights to Kahlo’s paintings, pipping Jennifer Lopez’s similarly-themed project at the post, and overseeing copious script rewrites, as well as potential directors. Along the way, she astutely signed up Alfred Molina as the love of Kahlo’s life, the artist Diego Rivera, plus Geoffrey Rush as Leon Trotsky and old pals Antonio Banderas and Ashley Judd for cameos.

Frida’s essence is a twisted love story, since to protracted, tempestuous Kahlo/Rivera love affair was punctuated by both tragedy and infidelities on either side. Meaning that Julie Taymor’s explicit tale looks set to be R-rated in the US. "Which is a shame," she says, "because I think 14-year-old girls would have loved it."

Sure to be as visiually stunning as Hayek’s impressive makeover (including the famed monobrow and fake earlobes), the film may also teach Hollywood a lesson about it’s oft-underrated Latina spitfire. "I certainly hope so," says Taymor. "I was very seduced by Salma. And I think anyone seeing Frida will be, too." "Lesley O’Toole - Empire December 2001"


[Thanks to Nina for the article and the scan!]


© Empire Magazine, December 2000