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article imageActing gets hairy for Salma Hayek in The Vampire’s Assistant Special

By Earl Dittman     Oct 24, 2009 in Entertainment
Latina actress Salma Hayek talks about her role as the member of a troupe of circus freaks & vampires in director Chris Weitz’s darkly-comic thriller Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant & she offers-up a few helpful tips on maintaining a bear
With cable and TV shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries constantly scoring high ratings and such films as Twilight ruling the box office, the fad currently dominating contemporary pop culture is our fascination with the bloodsucking undead. But, it's not a new obsession. We've been fascinated with these creatures of the night ever since novelist Bram Stoker created the most famous vampire of them all with the character of Dracula (based on the real Middle Ages mass-murderer Vlad The Impaler) and Bela Lugosi brought him to life on the big screen in the 1931 classic Dracula. And, it's never stopped – from Anne Rice's bestselling books about interviewing the sexy and seductive Lestat to Angel and Spike in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer/Angel – we've never lost interest in the fanged, A-positive loving monsters.
However, interest in the bloodsuckers has hit a new high. That's one of the reasons the just released Chris Weitz-directed terrifying dark comedy Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant -- starring Mexico-born Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly and Chris Massoglia -- is expected to rake in big bucks at this weekend's box office. Although vampires are once again big business in Hollywood, during a recent Los Angeles press day to promote the film Salma Hayek (Frida, Ask The Dust, Ugly Betty) said that she didn’t take on the role of the bearded Madame Truska, a clairvoyant member of a paranormal troupe of circus freaks and vampires looking for new victims, in Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (based on Darren Shan's twelve-book Cirque Du Freak literary saga) because she is also addicted to stories of the undead, she just simply loved the screenplay and her role.
“I’ve played one and been in love with one, but I have no interest in vampires, whatsoever,” Hayek admits. “I guess that’s why it’s ironic that I loved the script. It wasn’t the fact that it was vampires. I actually found the concept of the circus freaks a lot more interesting than the vampires, maybe because there’s been less movies done about that. But, it doesn’t matter what I like because they were interesting characters. I also liked that it was a film that is for young people, but it doesn’t treat young people as a cliché. It’s respectful of their uniqueness. It doesn’t tell them exactly what they’re supposed to think. It gives them space to take different things in different ways. I thought it was quite smart and refreshing, so that’s what attracted me to it. It just happened to be a vampire project. It also just happened to have facial hair, and it’s the third time I’ve done some kind of freak facial hair in a movie. I guess I have a secret desire to have a beard after all. I guess I should find out how my husband (French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault) feels about a wife with a hairy face.”
Salma Hayek in Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire s Assi
Salma Hayek in Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
When you were young did you every dream of leaving home and joining the circus? “I did dream a little bit about being a contortionist or a trapeze artist. I would have loved to have done that. And then, ‘Up With People’ came to my town and I had a dream about going away with them, and going from town to town, doing this show for world peace. That was my kind of circus.”
How long before you’ll let your daughter see this movie? Did she see you with the make-up and beard? “Yeah, she saw me with a beard. She understands it’s make-up. She was seven months old and she was not freaking out. I explained the process to her, and she saw it and was fascinated with it, but she knew not to touch it because it was fake. She was with me the whole time, and I had to show it to her, or I wouldn’t have seen her the whole day. I couldn’t put it on and take it off.”
Was your daughter scared seeing you with the beard? “My daughter was not afraid of the beard. She’s always with me. She’s like an extra branch of me coming out of my hip or something. She’d sit with me through makeup and see the process. I didn’t just appear one day with a beard. She saw them gluing it on, hair by hair, one by one. She knew it was part of my job and that she cannot touch it and that on set we’re quiet and sometimes she has to let me go. She’s really pretty wonderful that way.”
What did the beard actually feel like? “You just feel like a bunch of glue and then some of it tickles, a little strange, like a little cat passing close by or something. I also made sure that the hair of the beard was soft just in case John would kiss me with the beard. It wasn’t that kinky-haired kind of beard, it was a feminine beard, it took a lot of time with the design. We did different tries. It wasn’t a big deal. I completely forgot I was wearing it?”
John C.Reilly & Chris Massoglina in The Vampir
John C.Reilly & Chris Massoglina in The Vampire's Assistant
What sort of tips can you give for growing and maintaining a beard? “I think it’s very important to steam, so that you get the root of the hair. It’s important not to drink a lot, the night before you shave, so that your hands don’t shake and you don’t cut yourself. And, at some point, it’s important to just let it grow and accept yourself with all the hair you have.”
Was it weird for you to see yourself like that, or are you just used to it? “I’m not totally used to seeing myself with a beard.”
Your costar, John C. Reilly, said you looked good with a beard. “John made me feel really good about it. He’d say, ‘Oh, my God, you look so hot with a beard,’ and I’d be like, ‘Really?’ It was like when I was a whale and swollen from the pregnancy, and I’d never looked worse in my life, and people said, ‘Oh, you glow.’ They have no words to tell you how bad you look, so they tell you that you glow, and then you feel like you glow. It was the same with the beard. They made me feel good about it.”
What were some of the other reasons you wanted to do Cirque Du Freak? “John (C. Reily) was definitely part of it. (Director) Paul (Weitz) was definitely part of it. Not Chris (Massoglia), because I didn’t know him. But he’ll be a major part of wanting to go back to do the second one. But, like I said, I love the script and the way it treats young people. It doesn’t take it for granted that they are all so different. It’s not, ‘Let’s make a movie targeted at young people. They like blood’. I felt it was truly an intimate dream of the director. He had a very specific context and I feel he had an intimate relation with and conviction for that context. It’s a personal film for me and that’s very rare for me. It was exciting for me to find it.”
As a celebrity, especially with the way that you are often treated by the paparazzi and stalkarazzi, do you sometimes feel like you are member of your own Cirque Du Freak? “I don’t think that we are the freaks. What’s freaky is the guy behind the camera who is desperate and so excited because he’s seeing you walk into a supermarket. I think that’s freaky. They’re the freaks. I’m not the freak. I’m attacked by the freaks, sometimes. That’s the strange part.” (laughs)
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire s Assistant
Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
Have you ever considered yourself any kind of freak? “I think more than me thinking that I’m a freak, I’ve noticed other people looking at me and thinking there are some freakish aspects of me. Because you can get too busy doing the freaky stuff to notice there’s something wrong with it until somebody points it out. So I’ve definitely had freaky little things that other people think are weird but I don’t.”
In the film, your story-line touches on the subject of intuition. What do you think about your own intuition? “I think all women have it.”
Madame Truska, your character, can see the future. Do you have any powers of prophecy? “Do you know a woman that doesn’t have that power, a little bit? But, I don’t have them any more than the average.”
What has come true for you? “I’m not going to tell you that. Do you really think, if I had some kind of mental powers, I’d be talking about them with a journalist?” (laughs)
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