Above: Salma Hayek, who can soon be seen in the upcoming Frida Kahlo
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHEL COMTE
Upon our first, unforgettable Hollywood look at Salma Hayek--as the maiden
amid the crossfire in Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (1995--we were immediately
struck dumb. A smoldering firecracker of physical presence, Hayek has turned
out to be more, much more, than just a glamorpuse; she's helped to redefine
America's cultural image of Mexican women. She's repeatedly taken on unusual
roles in daring films. And now, a bold--as if she was capable of anything
less--move into producing with the upcoming Frida Kahlo biopic, in which she
will star as her famed countrywoman. But this is no vanity project: Hayek the
producer has linked Alfred Molina, Edward Norton, Ashley Judd and Antonio
Banderas to co-star, and the hard-charging Julie Taymor to direct.
Hayek's effervescent talent hardly fits the
gorgeous-emigre-gets-used-by-Hollywood scenario; succumbing to only one true
monster in her journey--Wild Wild West (1999)--she has pioneered her way
around the system without once abandoning her identity. Or pandering to it.
Rather, she's been searching for ways to expand her options and our
Hayek must drive her agent insane, skirting blockbuster roles for projects
that answer internal needs. And she does it without a hint of hardness, or
cynicism, taking risks that in her capable hands, never seem to have backfire
potential. We may know what jobs are on the horizon, but what truly lies
ahead for Hayek is impossible to guess: that's part of the point. All that's
certain is that it'll be off he menu.
Michael Anderson in a film critic for The Village Voice and mrshowbiz.com.
Very special thanks to Joanne Santiago!