Salma Hayek Says She Was Not Cast in 2 'Big Comedies' Because She Is Mexican

Salma Hayek, who stars in the upcoming Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and Eternals, says she was discriminated against in Hollywood early in her career because she is Mexican

salma hayek
Salma Hayek . Photo: Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Salma Hayek is opening up about the discrimination she faced as an actress in Hollywood because of her Mexican roots.

In her new cover story in Variety, the Oscar nominee, 54, recalled auditioning for the lead role in "two big comedies" only to be turned down.

"Afterwards the directors told me that I was the best audition and that I was better than who they cast and that they regretted it," Hayek said. "But at the time, they knew the studios wouldn't have gone for a Mexican as the lead."

Hayek continued, "If you are a woman and you are in a movie that is very successful and they say you are their favorite character, they will still give all credits of the box office to the guy. They don't count who you're bringing into the theaters."

"In my case, I was already a very big star in my country," she added. "I was bringing the Latino market into the theaters. I know some of the studios knew that. But they didn't want to accept the value of the Latino market at the time."

Now, Hayek is taking on one of the biggest roles of her career in the ensemble blockbuster Marvel film Eternals, directed by Oscar winner Chloe Zhao and starring Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Ma Dong-seok and Brian Tyree Henry.

"It never crossed my mind to be in a Marvel movie," Hayek told Variety. "I guess that I thought that boat had sailed, and it was an absolute shock. All of a sudden, I got a call: 'They want to talk to you about a new franchise.' And I was like, 'What?' And I said, 'OK,' but they don't tell you any information until you're on the call."

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Zoe McConnell for Variety

She added, "It's kind of hard to be an action hero if you're Mexican. It's really hard to be an action hero if you're a Mexican and a woman. But to be an action hero, being Mexican, a woman, and my age, it felt like they were punking me."

Even after she landed a role in the Marvel film, Hayek was sworn to secrecy.

"The worst part is that I was one of the first people they cast. I had to keep my mouth shut for so many months," she said of her casting and the movie. "I couldn't tell a soul. And I couldn't wait for the day that I could say it."

The Frida star also revealed she battled COVID-19 last year, and that her condition escalated to a point where she was placed on oxygen while isolated in a room in her home for seven weeks.

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Salma Hayek in Eternals. Marvel Entertainment/ twitter

"My doctor begged me to go to the hospital because it was so bad," she said. "I said, 'No, thank you. I'd rather die at my home.'"

Hayek has since returned to work following her recovery, although she told Variety that she still hasn't regained the energy she once had. She noted that regardless, she got back into work pretty quickly with the filming of House of Gucci.

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"It was easy. It was the perfect job to just get back into it. I had started doing Zooms at one point, but I could only do so many because I would get so tired," she said of shooting the Lady Gaga film.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard will debut on June 16, 2021. Eternals will premiere on November 5.

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