Wild Wild West, with salsa -
Salma Hayek adds Mexican spice to
By Bob Thompson
Tuesday, July 6, 1999
HOLLYWOOD -- When Salma Hayek drives
her car in L.A., she likes to move it from A to B as
efficiently as possible.
She learned to drive, you see, in Mexico City
where hesitating is unthinkable.
"If you don't get in there, you'll never make it to the
next block," confirms Hayek, referring to the
congested Mexico City streets and highways and
the aggressive drivers who drive them.
The 30-year-old, decked out in a all-white Chanel
suit at a Beverly Hills Hotel, grins devilishly, letting
the image sink in a little.
"My driving abilities from Mexico," adds Hayek,
making her point, "have helped me get through
No kidding. She certainly navigated her way into
one of the biggest summer movies, Barry
Sonnenfeld's Wild Wild West.
She plays the damsel in distress opposite Will
Smith in the special effects remake of the '60s
series. The film also stars Kevin Kline and Kenneth
For Hayek, the role represents a high-profile
Previously, she had near misses with well-received
portrayals in The Faculty, Fled, 54, Fools Rush In,
Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn.
Not that she's complaining. Hayek is happy with
her American movie industry lot in life.
She should be.
Hayek could barely speak English when she arrived
here less than a decade ago fresh from a highly
rated Mexican TV soap, Teresa.
Movie star mingling was not her motivation. Neither
was becoming as famous as she was in Mexico.
She wanted to get better.
Now, toward that goal, the hands-on Hayek has
her own production company with TV deals and
more than a few movies in pre-production,
including a Frida Kahlo movie biography she will
star in next year.
Vanity projects? Not really. A producing staff to
help her? As a producer, she's on her own.
"I'm tough, though," says Hayek as if to explain the
contradiction of her cheery self. "It comes naturally
"And in the beginning, I had to be. Everybody was
like, 'Yeah right, it's another actor who has a
production company, has somebody run it for
Presently, she's an actress for hire, filming the
comedy Shiny New Enemies in Vancouver with
Jeff Goldblum. She's also featured in Kevin Smith's
Dogma, due out in the fall.
"I play a muse, Serendipity," says Hayek of her
part in the film, which spoofs religion generally and
the Catholic Church specifically.
Imagine all of that and she just turned 30. So what
was it like for you?
"Next question," she says joking. "No, I really do
feel like I have accomplished a lot. I feel like where
I am is a good place to be."
Indeed, she had those same feelings when she was
18 and famous in her native land.
She also remembers the advice and the warning
from Lucy Orozco, the Mexico City producer who
"She said to me, 'You know what? Being a star has
nothing to do with being a good actress, or a nice
person. It's very simple. It's a chemistry that you
have with the camera.'
"And she said to me, 'You have it. And don't let
anybody tell you different. You can be sure of this.'
"Then she looked me in the eyes, and she said, 'The
question you have to ask yourself is, is that enough
for you?' "
Apparently, it wasn't.