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The Velocity of Salma

By Dale Brasel

SALMA HAYEK REACHES FOR SOMETHING TO - sweeten her steamy chamomile tea on a dank, rainy L.A. afternoon. She doesn't fancy anything pure cane, in the raw, or packaged in pink, so she plops a quarter-sized jawbreaker into the brew. "If this is the kind with gum in the middle, it's going to get messy," she says, stirring the ball without so much as a splash or single confectionary clink against the side of the dainty cup.<

I brought jawbreakers on the theory that such a significant beauty must receive truffles and bonbons by the ton-she'd think me clever then toss them into a nylon grave called a Prada purse. Who'd have thought she'd turn the improbable into the practical?

It isn't my first surprise of the afternoon. Sure, I knew sexy would be on the menu. The girl can't help it. Sensuality oozes from her mounting resume of films: Desperado, The Faculty, Fools Rush In, From Dusk Till Dawn, Fled, Fair Game, Breaking Up, 54, and the upcoming summer-smash-in-waiting, Wild Wild West, which follows her current release, The Velocity of Gary.

What those films don't always capture is Salma the comic and world-class storyteller. If pretty girls aren't supposed to be smart or funny, she's got two marks by her name on the chalkboard. When she channels the Rich Little inside of her with an impromptu "Lucy, you got some splainin' to do," she's more Lucy mocking Ricky-not because her act isn't polished but because she's a jokester at heart.

Somewhere not too deep below the Dorothy Lamour surface lurks Gracie Allen-and she's getting out. The rain outside the Chateau Marmont isn't clearing, and another pot of tea is poured. That jawbreaker gets smaller by the sip, each color dissolving into the next. "Look," she says, pointing a well-manicured finger those Revlon spokeswomen possess towards the cup, "We're getting to the purple."

Salma Hayek: My boyfriend doesn't like it when I'm sick.

Dale Brasel: Why?

If I have to stay at home, I end up watching infomercials.

And that's a problem?

It is for me because it's a sickness. I order everything. I use his credit card so they don't know it's me. I don't do the home shopping channels because that would turn into an addiction, just infomercials. You can't imagine how many things are still in the boxes.

What's your most ridiculous infomercial purchase?

A home gym that promised four minutes a day to have a perfect body.

Did it live up to its promise?

It came in a big box, in pieces. I said, "Honey, would you put this complicated machine. Of course, I didn't use it. After day three of this he said, "Salma, you're so intelligent. How could you buy this? I want you to try it to see what a piece of crap it is." He was right. I don't think I lasted even the four minutes.

What did you do with it?

I said, "Honey, you're right. I'm sending it back."


"Honey, can you take this thing apart and put it back in the box?"


Salma currently stars in The Velocity of Gary, a gritty departure from past glamour roles. Vincent D'Onofrio and Thomas Jane provide the other two points in this love triangle where boy meets boy and girl. She also got a producer credit, even if, as she says, it was accidental. It seems Ms. Hayek had a knack for problem-solving and raising capital after the film stalled during shooting and postproduction. Her acting shines, and she gets to be Diana Ross, if for only one scene.

You lip synch in The Velocity of Gary and 54. Are you musically inclined?

My mother is an opera singer. There's where my talent lies. It was fun being Miss Ross, but I stepped out of my trailer and someone from the crew shouted, "Hey, it's LaToya."

Minus the snake?

I had to work with a snake in Desperado. I don't want to talk about them. I didn't know about her snake.

That's practically the only thing she wore in her Playboy pictorial.

That family does love animals.

Have you ever worn something and after you left the house you said to yourself, What the hell was I thinking?

Are you kidding? Did you see those fake eyelashes I wore to the premiere of 54? If you've got the guts to make a movie about Studio 54, you have to do something like that, otherwise you're a piece of white bread-make that white bread that hasn't been cooked.


"I've been working on Frida Kahlo for two years now," she says proudly of the project she'll star in and produce through her company, Ventanarosa (translation: pink window). "It's in good shape now. That's all I can tell you. I don't feel that I have to rush, it's too important to me. I could have done it last year, but I'm taking my time. The script has to be perfect. The director has to be perfect."

"Do you own any of her work?" I ask. "No," she says with a grin, "but I own the rights. I have the rights to the murals and the exclusive rights to the murals. I own the movie rights to the murals and most of the paintings. Then, I own the rights from the government to use her image and reproduce the paintings. I look at everybody who says, "I want to do a movie about Frida Kahlo," and laugh hysterically. They don't know. They don't know they can't-not in Mexico anyway. What? They're going to make a movie about Frida Kahlo not in Mexico? Without the locations? Without the art? I laugh my head off. I'm taking my own sweet time on this one."


Did you think things would happen for you in America this fast?


Because of your success in Mexico?

Yes, but I also think that if I didn't have an accent it would have happened faster. I've been told that by the people who have hired me-and by the people who didn't hire me. You're Latino, but you weren't born here. I'm a foreigner.

When did that stop?

It hasn't. The Velocity of Gary was written to be played Puerto Rican. After we met, the director said, "This is the girl. If it was written for a German, I'd still give it to you."


What do you still bitch about?

Exercise. I have a hard time with it.

You don't look like you need it. Thanks, but things can change. I tried yoga.

What happened?

I'm claustrophobic and I was in a small room with people sweating with their butts in the air. What people don't tell you about yoga is that you manipulate your body in positions that make some people, well, fart. And sometimes a lot of people fart.

I think you're making that up as an excuse.

It's all perfectly natural I'm told, but I'm not saying it was right for me.

When was the last time you were in a gym that had windows that open?

I just couldn't be there. Now I have a yoga instructor come to my house.

Any other phobias?

I can't stand anything metal in my mouth or anyone else's. I also don't like bare feet on a wooden floor. I have to tiptoe-I've made up my own special tiptoe walk if I'm barefoot on anything but carpet.

Your house has wall-to-wall carpeting?

Hardwoods. Why?

When would I get a chance to practice my tiptoe?

Do you collect anything?

Rosaries and retablos.

What's your favorite saying?

La mona aunque se vista de seda mona se queda. My grandmother used to always say it.

I hope it's something dirty.

Transcript by Jacinda @