Salma Hayek's new film, the Kevin James comedy Here Comes the Boom, is about mixed martial arts, something she told reporters she only "vaguely knew it sort of existed," before shooting the film.
As one of the world's great beauties, however, one thing she does know about is getting hit on by creeps. In the film, Kevin James's creepy biology teacher is able to win over her character through persistence and good deeds. That sounded hard to us, so we asked Hayek how else a creep can snag a desirable woman.
"That depends on the woman," she said. "If you are persistent and you are a good person and she doesn't see it, she's not worth your efforts. Move onto the next one."
But what if you're not persistent and not a good person?
"You know, again, it depends on the woman. Maybe she might like you all the more because you're not a good person and don't pay attention to her. But again, you get what you deserve. Maybe that's the kind of woman you want, too."
Here Comes the Boom is an inspirational sports comedy and as these things go, Hayek ends up sharing a romantic kiss through the chain link fence of the MMA octagon. The kiss has a transformative effect on the viewer, rendering vacant lots you'll pass on the way home into miniature versions of Paris. She is able to overcome the obstacle with such ease that we needed to know: was this her first kiss through a chain link fence and would she recommend it?
"No, I'm just kidding," she says. "Wait a minute. Maybe high school or something. No, it was my first."
Was her high school next to a prison or something?
"Well, it was in Mexico, you know? Not everyone had the money for the walls. But yes, it was my first kiss through a fence. That I recall. For the moment. Something else might pop up later during the day. Would I recommend it? Limited but interesting, but yes, I would recommend it."
What she would not recommend, however, is having a kissing scene with a real life friend of hers, as she was forced to do with James in the film.
"Our children are best friends," she recalled with horror. "The organizing, the going back and forth with [his wife], you know, I'm friends with her. It's completely different once you become a circle of friends and you're playing every day on the set. And you go, 'I gotta kiss Shea's father? What if she comes to the set in the middle of it?'"
But Salma Hayek wants more for this generation of children than merely not to be traumatized. When questioned about Mitt Romney's suggestion that he would significantly reduce educational funding, she says, "I think education is a lot more than mathematics and they have to understand that the first thing you have to learn in school is to love to learn."
And in this vein, she praises Here Comes the Boom for taking on issues unusual for a mainstream comedy, namely immigration and education. Kevin James plays a teacher who starts fighting in MMA matches to raise money for his school's defunded music program. Hayek describes arts funding as providing "mental health for children and for the soul. To have to go to school and do nothing but boring subjects, it's like going to jail and it's terrible for them. They don't want to learn."
She thinks of the difference schooling made in her own life, one teacher in particular without whom she would not have the success she has today (and we would not have that snake dance in From Dusk Til Dawn).
"I was the teacher's pet," she recalls. "She used the English class to teach us about being Mexican. And she was American. Or about art or to provoke the mind and it was mind blowing.
"Her name is Esther Webber. She told me I was special. She told me I was going to do great things with my life. She put me on the side and said wonderful things to me, I'm embarrassed to repeat them. It had such an effect on me. This was in the third or fourth grade and I'm still in touch with her. She lives in Boston. She's a great teacher and a social worker and she's always fought for latinos in the United States."
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Between roundhouse kicks to Kevin James's face, the film does look into this idea of how public education can inspire and integrate immigrants to America. Which isn't to say that it was all serious business on set. Unlike a film like Savages, Hayek told us, "I don't even have to learn my lines. I don't even have to dress up. I was wearing my pajamas for the whole movie and my kids can come hang out by the monitor. And there's no tension. I'm serious about it. I want it to be great. I want it to be the best it can be for what it is."
And she credits the film's success to its director, Frank Coraci, who had previously directed The Wedding Singer and James's Zookeeper.
I hope I don't hurt anybody's feelings, including Mr. Boom over there," she says, gesturing to a giant photograph of a battered Kevin James. "The script was okay but the movie is a lot, lot better. It's one of those where it could have gone in different ways. And thank god it went the way it did. And part of it is, because, of course! Us! But in a great part, it was because of Frank. He's a great director."