I first noticed Salma Hayek in Desperado (1995) and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), which were incredibly fun, violent movies where Hayek plays wild roles. But it’s her portrayal of Frida Kahlo that’s seared in my brain, and I’ll always connect her and the painter. Yes, she had to fight to help get that movie made, including battling against Harvey Weinstein. She got the last laugh with a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Alas, she hasn’t been in many other historical roles, and I wish she would because she’s a fine actor with a greater range than her resume might indicate. Especially her early work, of which she’s said: “When I first started, I found that I had to play the part of something they could swallow in Hollywood, which was the sexy Latin girl. I was not dressing like that in Mexico.” These days, she has her choice of what projects to take, in front of or behind the scenes.
Juana Catalina Romero in El vuelo del águila (1984)
Before she hit Hollywood, Hayek was successful in telenovelas, including one episode of this fictionalized biography of 19th-c. Mexican president Porfirio Diaz.
Donna in “Roadracers,” Rebel Highway (1994)
This series TV movies were inspired by 1950s B-movies & featured a bunch of up-&-comers, like David Arquette (pictured), Renée Zellweger, Adrien Brody, & Alicia Silverstone.
Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1997)
One of the many cheezy TV movies made of this story, alas.
Rita Escobar in Wild Wild West (1999)
I hate this movie so much. I’m sorry for all the decent actors in it, & I wonder if they had big debts to pay off or they were high when they read the script or what. It’s offensively terrible, & here’s a tidy summation of one of the worst scenes Salma Hayek is subjected to.
At the very end, she gets to wear a full bustle gown, instead of the whore “disguise” & other crap she’s been subjected to. So let’s just remember this moment.
Minerva Mirabal in In the Time of the Butterflies (2001)
A well-regarded TV movie about three sisters from the Dominican Republic who opposed the government & were murdered in 1960 because of their activities. Salma Hayek produced this film with the company she co-founded, Ventanarosa.
Sara Sandoval in Bandidas (2006)
Frida Kahlo in Frida (2002)
John E. Jackson & Beatrice De Alba won the Oscar for Best Makeup & Hairstyling because they visually transformed Hayek into the artist.
Hayek learned to paint for the role.
Hayek convinced Alfred Molina to take the role of Frida’s husband Diego Rivera.
Hayek personally secured access to Kahlo’s paintings for the film.
She’s the first Mexican actress to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.
Camilla in Ask the Dust (2006)
Set during the Great Depression, this romantic drama tries to connect a waitress & a writer.
Martha Beck in Lonely Hearts (2006)
Very loosely based on the “Lonely Hearts Killers” case in the 1940s.
Singing Nurse in Across the Universe (2007)
She sings The Beatles, “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” in this 1960s pastiche.
Queen of Longtrellis in Tale of Tales (2015)
In the first third of this quasi-historical fairy tale, she plays a queen desperate to become a mother.
When she finally has a child, things don’t go as she wished.
But OMG she looks fabulous!
What’s your favorite of Salma Hayek’s historical-ish roles?
Frida, for the win!!
Of the ones I saw, I like Tale of Tales best. So visually striking.
Didn’t see Frida, but I remember my mom felt the need to tease me in relation to the film. It amused her that the film won Best Makeup to recreate features she’s bothered me about for years.
Ironically, the Oscar-winning makeup was actually toned down significantly before filming started.
Originally, Frida’s mustache was included in addition to the “unibrow,” and Matthew Mungle was hired to create facial prosthetics that would’ve given Salma Hayek Frida’s exact nose and ear shape.
Supposedly, they absolutely nailed the likeness, the prosthetics weren’t an issue for performance and stayed natural-looking on film, and Hayek was all for it.
Alas, the “suits”– probably Harvey Weinstein– didn’t want to make Hayek “ugly” and insisted that the makeup team ditch everything except the eyebrows and hairstyle.
I wish I could find a photo of the original makeup; I’ve looked, but haven’t found one.
(BTW, I think Frida Kahlo is beautiful, and I also think “unibrows” look great on a lot of people.)
I’m going with Frieda for the gold.
Eat a dragon’s heart and beget a sinister albino, eh?
Still beats the Targaryen method for acquiring a new generation of Dangerous Inbreds.
Also, VIVA SALMA!
I love all her work. For me, especially anything she did with Robert Rodriguez. I got to meet him at Antones in Austin, Texas. It was a fun event. And I attended the Austin, Tx premiere of Once Upon a Time in Mexico.