Rounding up the end of an already mega season of movies is The Hitman’s Bodyguard, an explosive new action film directed by Australian Patrick Hughes that sees top bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) enlisted to protect notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), who is also Bryce’s nemesis. As the two must make it across Europe to testify at the International Court of Justice, there will be a host of swearing, bullets and fun, filled out by an all-star cast featuring Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, and Salma Hayek as Darius’ equally badass wife.
Salma Hayek is no stranger to playing strong female characters; whether boisterous or quiet, she always brings her own strong sense of self and assertiveness to every role. Many of her previous characters have been outspokenly powerful women, and she doesn’t disappoint with Sonia in The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
“Oh yeah, I’m very opinionated,” Hayek says, sitting down with FilmInk to talk about her new film. “I’m also a straight arrow, but I really admire her sense of freedom; she has no fear of consequences, and she does exactly as she pleases, says exactly what she wants, and she doesn’t care what anybody thinks. And I think the greatest form of freedom is fearlessness. If you have no fear you are free.”
Of course, it’s never easy to be an opinionated woman in Hollywood, something Hayek knows for certain after nearly thirty years in the film industry. But according to her, it’s something to be proud of. “It’s always problematic, but at the end, it turns out to be good. To stick to your convictions and to express them. But it always is problematic.”
And stick to her convictions she did with her earlier 2017 film Beatriz at Dinner, which sees Hayek’s working class immigrant Beatriz sit in on a wealthy businessman’s dinner party. Bringing up a lot of important issues about race and class relations, the film’s release brought out a lot of emotional reactions to Hayek’s character, which she felt lucky to share with her audience.
“So many different reactions, so many shocking reactions. We did a screening, and a woman came up to me and she was sobbing, and for me this was very impactful, because she said, ‘I am Beatriz. And you don’t know how many times I thought about walking into the ocean.’ That’s wrong. And I said, ‘Please don’t!’ Another thing that was very interesting to me, because when I was on that film I didn’t think anybody was going to see it. I made peace with it. I told Miguel [Arteta, director] that nobody’s going to see it, and he said, ‘What do you care? We’re doing it for us, so get it out of your head.’ So, wow, that’s amazing because I said, ‘Yeah! Let’s do that for a change, let’s do it how we want to do it.’ And I was really surprised how well it performed with people who nobody thought it would perform well with, and I remember one of these screenings, the distributors said, ‘Okay, well, this audience is white and over fifty.’ I said, ‘Not when I’m here!’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, it’s just the theatre.’ And I said, ‘How many Latinos do you think are in there?’ And he said, ‘They’re not here.’ I said, ‘How much do you want to bet?’ And when I came out [afterwards], I said, ‘How many people here are immigrants?’ And it was half the theatre, and there was a lot of young people. So that’s been a surprise, that movie is continuing to surprise me.”
But Hayek is also an actor that continues to surprise her audiences, going from emotionally hard-hitting roles such as Beatriz to doing her own stunts in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. And even though she’s always done her own stunts, it was on the set of Hitman’s Bodyguard that she surprised herself, shooting he own fight scenes even when she thought she couldn’t. “I should have trained for it, but I didn’t think I was going to do it. So I just showed up, no training or anything. I did work on the development of the character, so when I showed up it was easy, because I had the process of creating the character. But I was not going to do the stunts, and then, I’ve always done my stunts and it made me feel so old. And also, I knew all the stunt guys, and I’ve worked with them before, and it was kind of like, ‘well, now is the time when we bring somebody to pretend to be you’, and I just couldn’t handle it. So I said, ‘Let me just give it a try.’
“And it turns out, I can still do it, so I just did it, with no preparation. It’s interesting, because they had put aside a limited amount of time, since it was all already rehearsed and choreographed. So we could only do it in a certain amount of hours, it wasn’t like a day of shooting or anything, it was fast. So, not only I had to be able to do it, I had to learn the choreography way faster than I have ever before in my entire life, kind of just winged it in a way.”
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is in cinemas August 31, 2017 and Beatriz at Dinner is in cinemas September 21, 2017.