Salma Hayek talks beating the odds, including Harvey Weinstein and aging in Hollywood, for InStyle's June cover

The 52-year-old actress is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with two upcoming action films, and it's all thanks to her resilience.
Published June 8, 2021 12:28 p.m. EST
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The odds have not always been in Salma Hayek's favour. When she first came to Hollywood via her native Mexico as a telenovela actress, she was typecast and had many detractors who told her she wasn't good enough. She even struggled to get financing for the film Frida, which later earned her a Best Actress nod.

Part of that struggle was due to former superproducer Harvey Weinstein, Hayek tells InStyle for its stunning June cover story. His company, Miramax, released Frida in 2002, but when she declined to take a shower with him or give him a massage, InStyle's Christopher Bagley writes that Weinstein "erupted in a vindictive rage" and later "demanded" she appear in the movie fully nude while having sex with her co-star Ashley Judd.

As the #MeToo movement has sent shockwaves through Hollywood over the last few years, Weinstein was charged with countless sexual assault allegations by various actresses, and was eventually arrested and charged with rape. He is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence.

"Some people got raped," Hayek says, sharing that she feels regret over not saying something sooner. "It makes you wonder if you had said something [back then], would it have been different? How come I didn't have the courage? But I dealt with it to the best of my ability at the time. For me, Frida was a political statement, a social statement, a feminist statement. It was my way of screaming. And Harvey used my way of screaming to repress me even more. So I could not let him win."

So Hayek persevered and had the movie made, to great critical success, despite Weinstein's efforts at sabotage, which she first detailed in a moving 2017 op-ed for The New York Times.

The 54-year-old next stars in The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, alongside Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. In it, she plays a ruthless con woman – and did her own stunts.

But becoming an action star, too, is not something Hayek (who is five-foot-two) ever thought was in the cards for her, especially with her following project being the highly anticipated Marvel film Eternals. Hayek will play ageless superhero Ajak, who was originally conceived as a male character – and is known for being able to lift 25 tons.

And that's because she's not only never been considered an action star, but is a woman of colour, and at the age when Hollywood tends to turn a blind eye. She notes, "As you get older, you're expected not to age." Hayek credits meditation and breathing techniques for giving her a new way to explore her body and learning "not to go crazy with the expectations." Given "how much mileage I put on my body and how much pressure and judgment I put on it, my body has been incredibly generous. I don't think I am some hot tamale, but I know that for my age, for the lifestyle that I lived, I'm not doing too badly. And I attribute all of this to meditation." 

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