Except for Bandidas, it’s really the first time I am doing a film with mainly girls,” Salma Hayek Pinault muses about her new film, Like a Boss. “I’ve worked with some great guys in my lifetime, but—oh, my god—I really enjoy being with the girls.”
In the comedy, out Jan. 10, the actress pairs with leading ladies Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as their characters’ plans to launch a beauty business quickly go awry and high jinks ensue. “There was a lot of improvising,” Hayek Pinault says, “a lot of collaboration.” The trio owes their charm not only to their impressive comedic chops, but also to a shared eccentricity. “It might not seem like it, but we’re all quirky in a different way,” she adds.
Dress by Dolce & Gabbana; ring, Hayek Pinault’s own.
This strong spirit of sisterhood is something that informs so much of Hayek Pinault’s own story arc. The Mexican-born actress bravely transitioned from the small screen in Mexico to Hollywood only to find herself typecast. But, with what is now widely celebrated as her trademark chutzpah and hard work, she founded her own production company, Ventanarosa, in 1999. “The reason I did it is because I always say, if you’re not making an effort to change it yourself, stop complaining. So, when I saw that there were not really a lot of parts for women or for Latin women, I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna try to do it.’ I think it’s important because we need to be represented, and our different voices should be explored in cinema.”
Many consider the petite powerhouse to be the mother of the #MeToo movement, but the earnest truth is Hayek Pinault has been advocating for women’s rights for more than two decades—long before any hashtags were trending. “The #MeToo movement—I didn’t change anything,” she says. “Somehow, what I was already doing fell under this umbrella.” That history, of course, refers to Hayek Pinault’s work with both large nongovernmental organizations and efforts such as her partnership with Avon, which has raised over $90 million to prevent and support victims of domestic violence. “When you go back 25 years ago, I have really seen the progression,” she says. “It’s beautiful to feel the power of all the girls coming aboard.”
For Hayek Pinault, who has been in the trenches fighting for women most of her adult life, the journey is a deeply emotional one. “I feel I am really lucky to be of a generation that got to live through a huge transformation,” she explains. “I understand where we’re coming from, and I fought for it. It was hard. It was heartbreaking. It was devastating. A lot of the time, you felt completely helpless and hopeless, and, now, to be able to see this change… it’s been a fantastic privilege.”
Up next, Hayek Pinault is slated for a blockbuster year thanks to a multitude of projects. In the sequel to runaway box office hit The Hitman’s Bodyguard, the actress takes a leading turn in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard alongside heavyweights Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. “This time, I have the same amount [of screen time] as the guys,” she joyfully shares. “It was such an amazing departure. … When they do the sequel, not only are you in it, but you’re the lead with some of your heroes.”
Then, in fall, she’ll join the Marvel Universe as Ajak in The Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao and featuring a star-studded cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan and Kit Harington. “I would be expecting something a little different from this one than what you’re used to,” she says. Keeping with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s notoriously tight-lipped teasers, Hayek Pinault clandestinely shares that her character is the mother of all Eternals—a fictional race of humanoids. “I’m excited to be working with Marvel, but I’m extra-excited that it will be on this completely new franchise—and with an amazing Chinese woman filmmaker. Even her process is different; her sensibility’s different, but it’s still very much a Marvel movie.”
In addition to the Marvel release, Hayek Pinault stars in two independent films: Molly and Bliss, releasing this year. “Bliss has got to be the most unique film I’ve ever done,” she says of the Amazon science-fiction drama co-starring Owen Wilson. “Is she strong? Yes, she’s strong, but she’s strange,” she adds. “I’ve never had so much anticipation and excitement to see a film that I’ve done than this one. It was one of those experiences, playing this character, that really grabbed me. Just the experience of making it alone was kind of nirvana.” And in Molly, Hayek Pinault shares the screen with longtime friend Javier Bardem for the first time in a drama from legendary director and screenwriter Sally Potter. “She’s a woman who is powerful in a different way than I’ve played powerful before. She’s a woman who is going through a very, very, very, very difficult time—the worst time that a woman can go through, and so there’s a lot of sorrow. She has a different kind of strength.”
Dress by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello; bra by La Perla; ring, Hayek Pinault’s own.
Somehow, Hayek Pinault manages to balance her megawatt career in addition to her “very supportive” family, which includes her 12-year-old daughter, Valentina; three stepchildren; and husband François-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire businessman, chairman and CEO of Kering (parent company to Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and more). As a mother, Hayek Pinault predicts her daughter’s generation will likely face an entirely different set of challenges. “I don’t know that by the time she has to get out there in the world this will be an issue,” she says of the #MeToo movement. “I think this generation is facing other problems that have a lot to do with social media and image.”
When asked how she juggles family life, plus packed production and philanthropic schedules, Hayek Pinault divulges her secret to productivity: “I meditate. When you learn how to do that, well, you don’t need that much time. And,” she adds, “I’m trying to take some time off next year for a special project that is something wild and crazy.”
Consider us on the edge of our seat, boss.
Clothing and jewelry, Hayek Pinault’s own.
Photography by: Photographed by Xevi Muntané
Styled by Lorna McGee
Hair by Daniel Martin at Bryant Artists
Makeup by Alex Babsky at The Visionaries Agency
Manicure by Pebbles Aikens at The Wall Group