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Salma Hayek on Wild Wild West

ET: Did you know from the beginning that it was going to be that way?

Salma: No. I was excited to do it, but I hadn't met any of the actors. I was afraid of Barry. Then the first day he said, "Let me see you get up here and pretend that you're singing." Then he stopped and was very serious and said, "You're so adorable!" So he decided to love me from that moment on and life was great! He was so nice to me. Had he not been, I would have been nervous. I was just afraid of Barry. I thought Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline were going to be so serious, but they weren't. They were nice.

ET: They're big Shakespearean stage actors.

Salma: I know. I thought Kenneth was just always going to be serious.

ET: Was he far from that?

Salma: Very far from it!

ET: I know you like to laugh and you like jokes. Were you pulling any jokes or were there any pranks going on?

Salma: Yes. They pulled many jokes on me. I didn't pull any jokes on them that I can remember. But they pulled a lot of jokes on me, and they pulled a lot of jokes on other people. It was fun.

ET: It must have been like a bunch of kids! The costumes are hysterical. They are outrageous in some points. I noticed the spider dress at the one point -- almost like a sexy saloon girl and Little Bo Peep mixed up all in one!

Salma: It started out being a full dress. Then Barry started saying, "Take this off, and take that off." Then I was in bloomers. Then he said, "That's still too much. Take off the bloomers." I was like, "What do you mean?" He just started taking parts of the dress off until I was left with a corset and boots. I said, "Barry, I'm not sure about this." He said, "Well, they have you in this very sexy outfit because they have kidnapped you and the mean guy wants you. Then you're being rescued and you have to be in the same outfit. It totally makes sense. It's part of the movie. It has nothing to do with me trying to make you look very sexy. It has everything to do with the storyline." So there I am wearing the corset for half of the film.

ET: You know what? You just sold a million tickets!

Salma: I'm wearing very little clothing.

ET: You still looked adorable! It wasn't vampy, it was adorable.

Salma: It was because the character was adorable.

ET: Did you keep any of the clothing?

Salma: No. I was ready to flush it down the toilet. You don't know what it's like to be in that corset every day. I didn't put it extremely tight, but one day I left it a little loose. Barry stopped and looked behind the camera. He said, "Something's wrong." I said, "Ok, Barry. I didn't tighten up the corset." He noticed it! He said, "I knew there was something different!"

ET: Was that the best thing in the world taking that thing off?

Salma: Yes, but it wasn't extremely tight. I didn't do it to a point where I couldn't breathe. It can be dangerous. You can faint.

ET: How would you have survived in the wild, wild west if you had to live back then?

Salma: I just hope that if I did live back then I would come across two superheroes like these two wonderful special agents who were absolutely brilliant and brave.

ET: It's sort of nice. It's a nice combination of being very macho and very smart.

Salma: They balance each other out. One of them is very macho and the other is a creative inventor scientist. It's a good combination.

ET: Were those real spiders in the video?

Salma: Yes. I am just waiting for any minute now for someone to come out with some scorpions and throw them at me because I had to dance with that snake. Then I had to do this video and I didn't know that I was going to have spiders on me until I had already said yes and I was there.

ET: What was that like? I never want to do it, so I'll live through you!

Salma: They're very creepy. They're not mean or anything, but they're creepy. I'm sorry to all of the spider lovers. I feel guilty about it because they're not doing anything to me except for walking on me. They're so light and they have hairy feet. They tickle you the wrong way. It's just so weird. It makes you very nervous. At night I would think about them.

ET: On a serious note, it talks a lot about the issue of being a Latin actor and getting jobs in Hollywood. You have done very well, but you've had to fight.

Salma: I've had to fight really hard. Nobody likes my accent! They think that if you have an accent, you can't do certain parts. I think I can do it all! But we'll have to convince them!

ET: How do you think Hollywood is doing? Do you think they still have a long way to go?

Salma: Yes. I can't complain. I'm doing great, but I do know that on television this year, the average of Latin actors that they hired dropped from last year. Some of us are doing really good, but there are a lot of us that aren't.

ET: What do you hope Hollywood hears when they read your article?

Salma: I hope they stop not hiring someone because they are from here or from there. If it's a good actor, they should hire them. They shouldn't hire someone just because they're Latin. That's not right either. They should be open to try to see us just as human beings. Not like they need someone Latin here, let's go find a Latin person.

ET: So if a young girl who wanted to be an actress came up to you and she was from a small town in Mexico, what advice would you give her?

Salma: I would tell her to work really hard to improve yourself so that when the opportunity comes you can really be that good. That's what we need to prove, that we can be that good. I would also tell her to fight for opportunities.

ET: Would you prepare her for the fight?

Salma: You can't prepare anybody for the fight. It's hard and you either have the stomach to put up with the fight or you don't. It's hard to prepare someone. You don't know what their fights are going to be. And I am lucky, I have to say.

ET: What was it about your upbringing that gave you the stomach for the fight?

Salma: I was a spoiled child and in some ways, that was bad for me. My father always made me feel so special and so loved. He made me feel like I could just do anything. My mom always taught me that humility is the most important thing in life. You should work hard for things, but you should accept what you have and be able to find joy with what you have. They were contradictory in a way, but in some strange way they have worked together. This is awful, but my father used to always tell me that I was his princess and that I should never let anyone treat me like anything less than that.

June 24, 1999