Wonderland.

SALMA HAYEK

The actor, producer, director and activist speaks to Camila Morrone about breaking boundaries and believing anything is possible.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 cover image

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 cover image
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Taken from the Spring 21 issue. Order now.

From AI to Instagram filters, how do we hold onto the tangible in a world constantly blurring the boundaries of real and unreal? This is the question posed by writer-director Mike Cahill in his new sci-fi extravaganza, Bliss.

Starring as the bewitching Isabel, Salma Hayek takes us on a spiralling journey split between two worlds, and two different versions of her character. First we meet the Isabel who appears to have nothing, when she approaches a disillusioned man named Greg [Owen Wilson] and claims they are among a handful of humans on the planet — the rest is all an illusion. With powers to influence and alter the simulation around them, Isabel pulls Greg into a lavish fever-dream worlds away from her life living on the streets. Hayek’s own magnetism lights up this parallel universe on-screen as she guides us through the spectacle, unravelling our expectations and raising more questions with every turn.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up eyes
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up eyes
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up glasses

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up eyes
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up eyes
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 close up glasses

Torn between Isabel’s persuasions and his increasingly concerned family (who Isabel insists are purely a simulation too), the film sees Greg grapple with which existence is a fantasy and which is the truth, something Cahill leaves open for us to decide too. By anchoring the story with relationships — a father-daughter bond versus the romantic allure of Isabel — Bliss is also a love story at its core, exploring how human emotions ultimately transcend any reality we can touch or feel. Speaking to fellow actor Camila Morrone, Hayek reflects on what drew her to the role and the timely message behind the film, as well as her lifelong work as an activist and why happiness is rooted in simplicity.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery shot green light

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery shot green light
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

CM: I want to start with: How are you holding up in the pandemic? How are you spending your time? If I know anything about you, you are cuddling with your owl and your dog, and trying to cuddle with Valentina. She’s a teenage girl, so I know that must be difficult…
SH: Teenagers don’t want you to cuddle them anymore! Yes I am cuddling, but not as much as I would like to. I was very excited about 2021 — I was on a diet, working out, here comes a new year, you know? I was motivated. Then on the 1st, I started saying ‘Wait a minute, this is not living up to my
expectations!’

CM: But you’re having a very big year work-wise, with three projects coming up. You’re going to have a more productive 2021 than me…
SH: The thing is they were supposed to come out last year, so I’ve been waiting for this moment! But I’m excited that they’re coming out this year… I did this movie [Bliss], which was strange even filming it because it considers the pos- sibility of two different realities being parallel. After I finished the film, I felt like last year was kind of a strange year or a parallel reality. In Bliss, you have the ugly world and the beautiful world, and you don’t know which one is real and which one is not. I feel that while we got scared over the possibilities of the real world with this horrible pandemic, people went into their machines to create an alternative, beautiful world; choosing what you can see, how you look, what friends you’re with. Technology has given us the possibility to reinvent a fantasy world to submerge yourself into, like in a bubble, and create all kinds of parallel realities. One of them is bingeing on all these different shows. That’s a way of escaping and being in another reality. So it’s coming out now, and I see it differently than when I was shooting it.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 red and white dress

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 red and white dress
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

CM: It’s even more perfect timing than if it had come out last year, because now we’ve been through this year-long pandemic where we are totally living in an alternate universe
SH: Right! Another thing that is very relevant [is] what’s real and what’s not real. Last year — I mean, the last four years — taught us that there are so many different truths. Everybody has their own truth and they are so convinced that there is no other possibility.

CM: Your story, my story and the truth.
SH: Exactly. What’s real and what’s not real? Last year these things were very strong for me, and I think for a lot of people. Figuring out what’s real today is harder than before.

CM: Well Salma, we just got a new president, which I am very excited about. You and I got to get together earlier in the pandemic to encourage the Latinx community to vote. I was so in awe of how much you know politically, how aware you are, how opinionated you are, and how you’re very clear on your opinions. I want to know if you’re proud of the way the Latinx community showed up in this election?
SH: I am proud of the participation, absolutely! What is motivating for me — even though there are different opinions within the Latin community, although the majority has won — the way to come together is by participating together and having our own voice. This makes me excited, and I am hopeful about our new president. I am extra moved by the fact our vice president is a woman of colour. This is a new reality! I think it’s giving me a little bit more energy to dream about the future.

CM: There’s also the four years in-between elections when it’s so important to keep the movement going, keep people involved, make the Latinx community feel heard and get their needs taken care of. I feel like people think it comes once every four years, but there’s so much work to be done in the interim period to keep everyone engaged and keep making them feel special and important.
SH: It’s about growth, and growth happens second by second.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 double image of fur coat

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 double image of fur coat
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

CM: I’m sure for you, having a 13-year-old daughter, this is very exciting to have the first woman in office as vice president.
SH: She was very into it, we were watching everything together.

CM: She’s so intelligent and it makes me excited to see such a young woman so interested in this and so inspired.
SH: You know Camila, the thing also about this movie, when you are talking about different realities, it’s a love story. Thinking of different realities and love reminds you that anything is possible, even things you wouldn’t think about, that seem unbelievable. That’s hopeful but it’s also something that makes you be careful, and that’s good too. Even for me, in a parallel way — because I am 54 years old, and I am of course Mexican, Mexican-Lebanese — I remember when I got to the United States they told me I didn’t have a future. At the time it really was something impossible. It was not logical that I could have a career, it sounded like something stupid that I was doing after having a career in my country and coming here. Then on top of it, being a woman working in your fifties you are the grandmother; you would work here and there, almost nothing. It was not well seen if you were cool, if you stayed up with the trends and were excited about new things happening in our universe. And now, that’s not the case. I’m at the best moment in my career and I get to do cool films. He wanted me for this role, Mike [Cahill], who’s a genius. He didn’t care about my age, he made the part whatever age I was because you don’t even talk about age in this movie. In this world, it didn’t matter at all. This kind of film, in these times, just reminds you that anything is possible.

CM: Throughout your career you’ve created space and paved the way for so many young Latin women aspiring to be actors and broken so many barriers. Looking back at this long, impressive, successful career that you’ve had, what does it mean to you to know what you’ve done and the doors you’ve opened?
SH: I feel really lucky that I’ve had a life hat’s seen transformation. I think some other generations don’t get to see, in their lifetime, such a palpable trans-formation. Not only for Latinas, but for women. I mean, look how far we’ve come.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 flicking hair
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 black and white

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 flicking hair
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 black and white

CM: What age did you come to this country?
SH: I was 24, 30 years ago. And not just in our industry; I think we are really being heard now. I was an activist for women’s rights for a very long time and it was disheartening because you didn’t see anything moving, no matter how hard you worked.

CM: Why do you think it’s been in the last couple of years, versus when you were here at 24 years old?
SH: We are very resistant to change; our nature is resistant to change. We crave it and subconsciously we fight it. It takes tenacious work for a very long time from a very large group of people, and eventually, when the right circumstances happen, it rolls out. Whatever the circumstances could have been in these few years, it would never have happened without the fight of so many for so many other years. Historically, that’s the way we operate. I want to ask you, because I’m sure from your perspective it still doesn’t seem like we’re anywhere near where we need to be, no?

CM: There’s obviously still so much work to do. We learned in the pandemic and in the election the division this country has; that’s something that concerns me for the future, but I am hopeful that things aren’t going to be able to slide any more. […] More so than ever, I feel like people are going to be held accountable and there’s going to be real change.
SH: Another interesting thing because of technology and what’s been happening lately is that in some ways, the boxes are getting more solid. And in some other ways, there’s a lot more expression and freedom… Now, when we talk about expression, there are really closed boxes that people want to protect themselves in. I’ll be specific — opinions have become something very important to people’s identities. There are a lot of people that want to make sure they have the opinion that’s going to put them in the box where they feel safe and they’re with the people they want to be with. Everybody is afraid of talking or saying the wrong thing. There are no in-betweens. [People think] ‘If I say this, which is in the middle, I’m going to lose my clan, who are in this box’. Yet on the other hand, people are freer to have many ways to identify themselves sexually, or dress in so many different ways. […] We’re living in these two parallel realities that are contradictory to one another, that are part of a phenomenon that is coming from the machines.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 floral jumpsuit

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 floral jumpsuit
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

CM: I wanted to ask you about fashion, which I think is a big part of your life. And as an actor, I know that wardrobe and costume is a big part of every character I’ve played, as I’m sure it is you. You have two very different aesthetics and looks in this film… How did that help you get into [character]?
SH: When Isabel is in what she believes is the real world, she is a scientist and she’s a rebel in that perfect bliss world. When she comes to this ugly world she’s homeless, but the translation of that rebelliousness goes into artistic. The place she lives everyone sees as ugly, but she doesn’t see it as ugly. She appreciates the ugliness because she comes from perfection. So imperfection and humbleness is very romantic to her.

CM: She says to Greg in the perfect world ‘You have to see the good to appreciate the bad’, and he says it’s the other way around, right?
SH: It is both ways. She also says it’s amazing how easily we get used to greatness, beauty and perfection to the point where you don’t see it anymore. You have to experience the good to appreciate the bad.

CM: I thought there was a very defined difference between the two, even in the posture between the way the two different versions of Isabel carried herself.
SH: It was exciting to do that with Mike. The audience are not told which one is real and which one is not real, he leaves it open for you to choose. But when I played the part, I had to choose… At the beginning I thought the bliss world was not real. She has a drug problem and so does he, so that’s where they escape because they have a drug problem. But when I was playing the other Isabel, my judgments went away and I really believed. For a moment I was confused. Why not? Maybe there is another world we don’t know about, where we are something completely different. Why not one day there will be this bliss world, and she is just going back in time to a different place? It was a really cool thing to break away from myself and my beliefs and how far I could go with my beliefs. It made me question a lot of things

CM: I thought it was cool this film was sci-fi. It was of course thrilling and exciting and kept moving, but behind that there was an important message. When you’re explaining to Greg at the end of the film that you had to create a new world because of the destruction done to our old world in terms of climate change, pollution and poverty, it feels very relevant to what is happening on our planet.
SH: There’s many beautiful things that we have, so many blessings. This can already be bliss. What if this is the best we are ever going to be, and we’re not appreciating it and we’re not protecting it? I’m a diver, I started diving really young when I was 10. You don’t dive every day, so when you’ve dived for this long and you go to the same diving sites, this is when it gets really scary. You go to places where you saw so many things, and it’s deserted and the corals are dead.

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery black and white
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery red lighting

All clothing and accessories is GUCCI

Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery black and white
All clothing and accessories is GUCCI
Salma Hayek for Wonderland Spring 21 mixed imagery red lighting

CM: You feel the damage we’ve done to the Earth when you’re underwater. It’s such a different Earth that we feel up here, but there’s no hiding and lying down there. You go down there and you see for yourself what’s happening… You talk about true happiness in this film — do you think that us humans being in constant search of perfection, and the disappointment that comes with not achieving perfection, is something that causes us pain? The search for this perfect blissful world and true, utter happiness?
SH: Yes, it has a little bit to do with what we were talking about. What if this is the best? It’s about staying in the present and making the most of it without losing your ability to dream. How do you just appreciate everything at this moment? How do you find joy in an arid desert? How do you overcome all of your emotionality and dive into the sorrow, the simple things, and find joy just in that? At the same time, that you don’t lose your capacity to hope big and dream large. I think it’s in finding those places — the stability of the joy in the sorrow and in the simple. Never losing the curiosity of life; never losing your creativity that makes you dream; never losing your connection to feeding yourself with other people’s creativity, culture and thoughts, even if you disagree. That can give you the possibility to be happy. My father is someone who is happy—this is a man I have seen happy in very bad circumstances and he is always happy. He has the ability to be happy for others so even when he is not doing well, if someone else he knows is doing great, he doesn’t feel jealousy. He feels happiness.

CM: My father has the exact same thing. He finds happiness in a tree blowing in the wind, the sound of the waves crashing, snow falling from the sky, the simple things in life. I think what you said, the combination of being able to dream really big but to be satisfied with the small, beautiful, simple things, is the key to happiness.
SH: And when you talk about perfection, we define what’s perfect. It doesn’t really exist if you think about it.

CM: It’s subjective to anyone and everyone’s opinion.
SH: It’s really something that is abstract, in a way.

CM: Reading Bliss, what was the moment you said ‘I want to tell this story?’
SH: I had seen Another Earth by Mike, and I thought his mind was brilliant and interesting. Out of the blue he called me… He started talking and only half of the things he was saying made sense, but they moved me. I knew there was something really original and special. I said to him on the phone ‘OK, I’ll do it’ without telling my agent, without reading the script. I just feel it.

CM: I’m that kind of person, too. If I like someone on a Zoom meeting or if I fall in love with a story or director I’m like ‘I guess I’ll do it!’ And my team is like ‘Maybe we should have talked about that first, but OK…’ You and I are too passionate, Salma. It’s a blessing and a curse.
SH: We like freedom.

CM: We like creative challenges, we’re hungry for it. No boring, rudimentary life. New and passionate and fun and crazy.
SH: In my case I am finding a lot of fun in the lack of craziness sometimes, where before it was boring. Never uncreative — if you have a creative mind, you should never be bored. But I needed emotional heat when I was younger, and now I can feel a lot without be- ing completely shaken up. I shake in a different way; I vibe in a different way. Which is cool. It sometimes comes with years. There’s a lot of young people that are already coming wired in that direction, and it’s exciting for me to learn from them. It doesn’t mean I want to be passive and tired, I have a lot of energy. I just want to harvest different kinds of energies. And a lot of times I’m more understood even by children than by people my own age. I get tired a lot, but I recharge fast.

CM: Thank you, Salma. I have so much to learn from you and I always do.
SH: And me from you, that’s what I’m trying to say. And I’ve got to say, you in- spire me. I’m grateful for that, inspiration is such a beautiful sensation.

CM: It’s so beautiful to find people that you connect within this life, it’s very rare. You and I, like we said, have known each other in a past one.

Photography
Jack Bridgland
Fashion
Adele Cany
Creative Direction
Jack Bridgland and Tom Bailey
Hair
Samantha Hillerby at Premier Hair & Makeup
Makeup
Alex Babsky at Premier Hair & Makeup
Nails
Kate Williamson
Producer
Federica Barletta
Editorial Director
Huw Gwyther
Photography Assistant
Theo McInnes
Styling Assistant
Patrischa Humm
Design & VFX
High Art (Tom Bailey and Ciaran O’Shea)
Retouching
Melissa Morgan
Cover Design
Olivia Woodgate
SALMA HAYEK

Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related →

Array
(
    [type] => 8
    [message] => Undefined offset: 1
    [file] => /home/wonderland/public_html/wp-content/themes/wonderland/components/post-content.php
    [line] => 134
)