Salma Hayek Talks About "Ask the Dust"

Salma Hayek on Working with Colin Farrell and Writer/Director Robert Towne

Salma Hayek at the Hollywood Premiere of "Ask the Dust.". © Richard Chavez
"Ask the Dust" - The Story: Based on John Fante's autobiographical novel, "Ask the Dust" is the story of Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell), a frustrated novelist with dreams of becoming a famous writer, and Camilla Lopez (Salma Hayek), a Mexican waitress who yearns for acceptance in America. Arturo and Camilla are drawn together in this melodramatic love story set in the 1930s and brought to the screen by writer/director Robert Towne.

Salma Hayek on Her “Ask the Dust” Co-Star Colin Farrell: Writer/director Towne described Hayek and Farrell as volatile actors and Hayek believes she knows why he used that descriptive term.

“Well, it was a very, very good combination. We worked really well together because we are both very creative, but we really trusted each other and we were very respectful of each other. So I think that probably what Robert is referring to is we rehearsed a lot, which was a new thing for me. We rehearsed for months. And every time we rehearsed, he’d take little things and rewrite in those things. We had a lot of freedom to play around, to improvise, so when we got to the set, we were very well in tune.

Sometimes I would surprise him and throw something at him that had never been requested and never been planned, and he would brilliantly just catch it and throw it back at me in a way I never expected. So sometimes that escalated and they’re just watching, and because we’re fighting it was so exciting to work with an actor like that. And then know that nobody ever crossed the line.

This guy was so thirsty for the process, I think he didn’t have a lot of training.

So for him to have the opportunity to have a rehearsal and a director and everything, he loved it. He loved that he was so there and that was my favorite thing. He was always participating in the process seriously, seriously very respectful of the work.”

The Book Versus the Movie: “I did not read the book on purpose because Robert developed the character.

Colin read it like five, ten, a million times. It was a choice that I did not read the book because my character in the script, I think, is different than in the book. There’s more of it in the movie than there is in the book. He takes a long book and takes this piece and really focuses on that part of the story. So my character was more developed in the script.

I talked to Robert, I said, ‘I’m not going to read it until the movie’s over.’ Then I became so close to this character that when we finished the film, Colin gave me as a wrap present the book, a first edition of the book. So I said, ‘I’m going to read it.’ I started to read it on the plane and I was sobbing. I put it away, I got home, and a week or two later, I couldn’t read the book because I missed her so much and I didn’t get to play her anymore. I put the book away and said, ‘I’ll wait and I’ll read it when I’m not so close to this character.’ I didn’t even notice how close I came to this character.”

Hayek admits this does not happen with every role she takes on. “I think what happened was that my inspiration for this character was I thought of all the women, the history of the era that inspired a man - and this man never told her - that in some way touched the life of a man, and maybe the man didn’t notice until when they were not together anymore.

Even if it was his wife and his wife was the inspiration, but maybe he doesn’t realize until she’s dead.

I thought of all the women that inspired great artists and all the mistresses, and the men were ashamed to even bring them out. But even if it was just someone’s first girlfriend and later on in life you still remember that first kiss and it makes you who you are as a man later, and they will never know it. And I thought of Camilla [tears up] and I couldn’t read the book. I thought of this woman who thought that everything’s wrong in her life, that she’s never accomplished anything. [spoiler deleted] And yet she inspired this fabulous book. So I would keep thinking of her and I wish I could go back and tell her, but I can’t.

…There’s a lot about the character but it doesn’t always happen.

But then there are some characters, you really create a relationship with almost as if they were your friends and you never get to get into their heads again or think like them. They’re gone.”

Salma Hayek Discusses the Nude Scenes: Unlike 99% of all actresses, Hayek gained weight for her nude scenes. She said she did it by eating “lots of hamburgers. They had a good hamburger place. I ate. I thought the character should be, you know 1930s but Mexican. I put on a little bit of weight, actually I put a lot of weight in it, and I actually haven’t been able to lose all of it. But it was okay. Once I got naked with all that weight, I said, ‘You know what? It’s okay.’ So I sort of stayed up since then.”

Page 2: More on the Nude Scenes and Working with Robert Towne

Page 2

[Continued from Page 1] Hayek may have looked comfortable in the nude scenes but she definitely wasn’t while filming them. “It’s not comfortable and I was not relaxed at all. I act comfortable but I was not. As a matter of fact, I was in such a state, Robert came to see me but he was really nervous because this is not the one scene I wanted to do. I was cold. So at one point they said, ‘You have to come out.’ And everybody came like, ‘It’s okay.’ ‘Don’t ask me.

I don’t want to talk about it!’ You’re going to sit here and say, ‘I’m okay,’ and you’re not? It’s like everybody came, ‘Are you okay?’ ‘Yes, I’m fine!’ What are you going to say? ‘Let’s get it over with.’

At one point Colin came, started making jokes and I [grumbled], ‘I’m not in the mood. Colin, right now I’m really upset about this.’ ‘It’s going to be okay,’ I’m barking. So I start to walk out and out he comes, butt naked from the trailer, jumping, he’s doing [a dance] and I started laughing. It was the most ridiculous thing. Everybody started laughing and he did it because of that, to relax me because I was really tense.

I have to say that he never, when we were doing the scene, he did not once look down. I sometimes talk to guys when I am dressed and they talk to me like this [looking at her chest]. They don’t know they’re doing it. And Colin was, for all his reputation, I was expecting what’s he going to do?

Is he going to try to get too funny here? Never. Never took his eyes off mine. No. ‘How can I help,’ completely supportive. I was very surprised by Colin Farrell because with all the stories you hear, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ But no.”

Salma Hayek Describes Filming the Ocean Scene: “It was freezing and I got a little bit of hypothermia.

I mean, they were really careful. I mean, we had to prepare physically to do the scene because it was so cold.”

The scenes were shot in a special wave machine and not the ocean. “The scene that we were going to do in the actual ocean, the actual ocean, not only would it have been just cold, but a week before we arrived, somebody got eaten by a shark there exactly where we were going to shoot. So they had to really fast find this place and I thought it was going to be warm but it wasn’t.”

Salma Hayek Understands and Shares Robert Towne’s Passion for Work: “Yes, definitely and probably that’s part of our bonding. We’re very, very close. If he says very nice things about me, it’s because he’s my friend. We got really, really close. We got really, really close.”

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Murray, Rebecca. "Salma Hayek Talks About "Ask the Dust"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/salma-hayek-discusses-ask-the-dust-2421204. Murray, Rebecca. (2016, August 30). Salma Hayek Talks About "Ask the Dust". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/salma-hayek-discusses-ask-the-dust-2421204 Murray, Rebecca. "Salma Hayek Talks About "Ask the Dust"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/salma-hayek-discusses-ask-the-dust-2421204 (accessed November 18, 2017).