Call her Madame Pinault. In the life of Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez de Pinault, much has changed - a marriage to French billionaire and PPR CEO Francois-Henri Pinault and a daughter (Valentina Paloma Pinault) have turned Salma's domestic life upside down, but some things have not changed, principal amongst them her ability to hold her own amongst a male-dominated cast. That skill will come in useful in Salma's latest film Grown Ups, where she plays fashion designer Roxanne Chase-Feder and wife to Adam Sandler's talent agent Lenny "Hollywood" Feder. Salma recently sat down in Los Angeles, CA with Buzzine's Izumi Hasegawa to talk about her parenting experience so far and the insight it has provided for playing a mother of two onscreen.
Izumi Hasegawa: What drives you to succeed?
Salma Hayek: I just love life. I’m excited about things in life. I think that if you’re excited about life, you are excited about waking up and doing things with your life every day.
IH: Congrats on your marriage and child. That has been the focus of the last few years when we read about you. How do you see your career now, and why did you say yes to Grown Ups?
SH: I said yes to this movie because, from the beginning, I was an Adam Sandler fan and I really liked the movie. Of course now the main focus of my life is my family, and it does change things and the choices you make. You want to do movies that your children can watch, and also that your children can have fun and enjoy the experience of shooting it, and it doesn’t get better than this movie for that. I love the movie. I’m proud of it. I can’t wait for Valentina to see it.
IH: So no Frida in your future? Just being Valentina’s mother?
SH: No. I have a movie with a director named Emir Kusturica — he’s one of my favorite directors — and Johnny Depp that we’re going to be shooting next year. It’s an amazing character, and that’s like a dream job as an actress. Also, we’re talking about something with Kevin [James] that I’m excited about. It’s an action comedy. There’s going to be a little bit of everything in my career in the future.
IH: This is the first time you’re using Pinault in your credit. Is it true Valentina had something to do with that?
SH: At the beginning of the film, she was very little. My chair said “Salma Hayek” and she said, “What does it say there?” I said, “Salma Hayek” and she said, “Where is Pinault?” because her last name is Pinault, and in France my husband is much more famous than me so everybody calls me Madame Pinault and she’s much more used to that. I realized that she felt left out. I also have two children that I inherited from his previous marriage. In a way, I like it — it just brings the family together.
IH: How did Valentina react when you told her you were going to use Pinault?
SH: She thinks it’s the least I could do, trust me.
IH: How are you balancing motherhood and work? Did you bring her to the set?
SH: We all brought the children to the set. Adam makes it the dream environment to bring children. They are so highly entertained that you’re nervous when you get back home — how are you going to entertain your child?! They have all kinds of toys and things for them to play. Everybody had children of the same age. She loved coming to work every day with me.
IH: What have you given up to spend time with family?
SH: I don’t have a lot of time anymore, so I know my friends have suffered from trying to juggle everything. Your social life suffers a little bit, definitely. Every parent will tell you that. I was, at one point in my life, very involved with social causes, and as passionate as I am about it, I remember I almost had to be… I’m still involved, but it’s almost like a choice now I have a family, and it’s important to me. I have to do this for myself, but of course there’s just so much you can do in 24 hours.
IH: What was it like working with the guys on a comedy, and what was your experience with 30 Rock?
SH: I loved it and I’m really grateful I did that because it was wonderful training for this. Alec [Baldwin] also likes to improvise a lot, and it’s really exciting when you have good chemistry with an actor, good communication, and you sort of build things as they go. It’s magical. It was like Nirvana, that experience. It was going to be one episode, then two episodes, then three. Then, after six, I was tempted to go back, but I had to stop. It was great that I got this movie because I love comedy and I loved working with everyone in the film. It doesn’t get better than this. I’ve always wanted to do comedy and I love this movie, and I’m glad this was my first big comedy.
IH: Who’s the best basketball player?
IH: Do you think things have improved for Latino actors?
SH: I think definitely Hollywood has grown in embracing the inclusion of Latinos in the world, because for some time, we didn’t exist. We were not part of any stories. There are 40 million of us in this country. It was weird. I was very privileged to be part of a small generation of people that broke through that door first, but I didn’t do it by myself. Jennifer [Lopez] was also part of it. Ricky Martin was a huge part of it. There was a group of people and great timing, and also a lot of my friends from Mexico, like Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and later on Gael. I think it was the right place and absolutely about time, and I’m excited to have a part of that.
IH: This movie is about a guy’s version of a best friend reunion. When did you have your reunion? Where did you go? Do you have any friends who want to talk about the Hollywood lifestyle?
SH: It’s very strange, but I don’t have anyone like that. I have one friend since I was born, and she’s from Coatzacoalcos and she’s not really impressed or interested in the actor’s life. Or my family — it’s not really like that. I know some people like that, but my close circle is not impressed at all, and sometimes you wish they were a little more impressed with what you did and who you met. They’re like, “Oh yeah, whatever. Can you pass me the salt?” In a way, it’s also very good for me, I guess.
IH: After doing Ugly Betty and this movie, are you interested in producing a comedy movie or another TV series?
SH: Yes, we still have a deal at ABC and we are developing as we speak, and we’ve actually acquired a couple of other franchises from Latin America. I’m not going to say the names because I don’t know if they’re going to make it all the way to the screen. We’re in development. But the movies that we’re developing right now — there’s a family movie but not really a comedy…
IH: How does being a parent contribute to finding the comedy?
SH: I love this film because I think the audience is going to be able to add themselves to our experience, to bond with us, because being a parent is one of the most common, shared experiences and something that is so important. Every single character in this movie really cares about their family, and they’re so different. I think the audience is really going to identify with everyone, and of all of Adam’s movies — he’s done a large variety of films, but — I think women are going love this one because they’re going to identify with us and our conflicts in our own marriages and our relationships with our children, and even the grandmothers and the kids and the guys. I really think it was important that we all had a similar experience as actors because it’s more that we bring to the table.
IH: You’re going to voice Kitty, the love interest for Antonio Banderas in Puss in Boots. Have you started recording?
SH: Yes we’ve been working on that.
IH: Have you recorded together?
SH: No, but this is the fifth film we’re going do together, Antonio and I.
IH: What is Kitty like?
SH: She’s amazing, and I’m so excited because my daughter gets to see me in an animated movie. Most of my recordings have all been in Paris, which is also the dream job because I can record anywhere in the world. But I’ve been able to hear his voice when I respond. I’m so excited to do this project.
IH: What do you do to see that your kids connect with the outdoors?
SH: I’m a country girl. I have to be in nature, so my daughter is exposed to it a lot. I have a ranch, which is my favorite place in the world, and even in Paris, every weekend we go to the country house.
IH: What outfit makes you feel confident?
SH: Having to wear a bathing suit in front of the camera with thousands of extras definitely motivates you to work out a little bit. I think the outfits that make you feel good are the outfits that fit you and don’t make you feel like you have to suck in your gut or you cannot move in this direction. Wearing something comfortable always makes me feel confident.
IH: What childhood story do you hope your kid hangs onto for a while?
SH: I’m concerned about mine because she will not believe in Santa Claus. No matter what I say to her, she just doesn’t buy it. She’s 2 ½! I refuse to give it up. “There is a Santa Claus.” “Okay, Mommy. In pretend world, right?” “No, for real.” “For real — right.” She really doesn’t believe. There’s nothing I can say that makes her believe in Santa Claus. I think maybe she’s doubtful at least about fairies, so I’m shoving the fairies because it’s my hope that she’ll have some kind of make-believe characters. I don’t know why I have a child like that. I believed in Santa Claus and I was really upset when somebody told me the truth, but I’m hopeful that she’s too young to believe in Santa Claus, and in a year or so she’ll believe in it especially, because it’s always a great tool for blackmail when you say, “If you don’t do this, Santa Claus is not gonna bring you anything.” But she doesn’t believe in it.
IH: Show her Miracle on 34th Street.
SH: I will. I really have to get this.
IH: You’ve been an advocate for breast feeding. Did you have any qualms about it being used as a punchline in the movie?
SH: It’s extremely important, but I think that understanding the importance but not making it a serious taboo — something so weird and strange — actually helps. Being relaxed about it and having a conversation about it, having the dialogue…is it a little bit too old? Even I think it was a little too old, but it is, in a way, healthy.
IH: Are you involved in any kind of protest regarding Arizona?
SH: I’ve been outspoken about it, but I’m not here. After this I go back, so it’s hard to be involved right now when I’m far away.
Columbia Pictures' 'Grown Ups' is in theaters now.