After stepping away from the big screen since giving birth to her daughter Valentina in September 2007 and marrying French mogul Francois-Henri Pinault in February 2009, Salma Hayek is back with a high-profile comedy, playing the glamorous fashion designer wife of a top Hollywood agent (Adam Sandler) in Grown Ups.
According to Sandler, he’s been trying to team up with Hayek for years, but the timing was never right. That is, until last summer, when the movie about a reunion weekend was shot on location in Massachusetts. As it happens, the Mexican actress originally best known for dramas like Frida and From Dusk Till Dawn has gravitated toward lighter fare of late, with recurring roles on 30 Rock and Ugly Betty, which her Ventanarosa company produced.
Wearing a sporty but chic electric blue Balenciaga romper for a day of press to promote the movie at a country club in Agoura Hills, California, Hayek talked about her return to work and balancing career and motherhood.
You’ve taken time off from films since you had Valentina. How do you see your career now, and why did you say yes to Grown Ups?
I said yes to this movie because from the beginning, I was an Adam Sandler fan and I really liked the movie. Of course now the main focus of my life is my family and it does change things and the choices that you make. You want to do movies that your children can watch, also that your children can have fun and enjoy the experience of shooting it, and it doesn’t get better than this movie for that. I love the movie. I’m proud of it. I can’t wait for Valentina to see it.
This movie is about old friends reuniting. Do you have lifelong friends? And how do they treat you now that you’re a superstar?
I have one friend since I was born, from Coatzacoalcos [Mexico], and she’s not really impressed or interested in the actor’s life. Or my family, it’s not really like that. My close circle is not impressed at all and sometimes you wish they were a little more impressed with what you did and who you met. They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever, can you pass me the salt?’ in a way it’s very good for me, I guess.
You play mom to three kids in the movie. Did being a parent help you get into the character?
Yes, we bring that to the table. I think the audience will be able to add themselves to our experience, to bond with us, because being a parent is one of the most common, shared experiences and something that is so important. Every single character in this movie really cares about their family, and they’re so different. I think women will love this one because they’re going to identify with us and our conflicts in our own marriages, and our relationships with our children.
In Grown Ups, you accidentally tell your daughter there’s no Tooth Fairy. Are you careful to preserve those fantasies for Valentina?
Yeah, I believed in Santa Claus and I was really upset when somebody told me the truth. I’m concerned because there’s nothing I can say that makes her believe in Santa Claus, but I’m hopeful that in a year or so she’ll believe because it’s always a great tool for blackmail: ‘If you don’t do this, Santa Claus won’t bring you anything.’
Did you bring Valentina to the set with you?
We all did. Everybody had children of the same age. She loved coming to work on the set. Adam makes it the dream environment to bring children. They are so highly entertained that you’re nervous when you get back home—how are you going to entertain your child? They have all kinds of toys and things for them to play.
Did you enjoy the outdoor lake location?
Yes, I’m a country girl. I have to be in nature. So my daughter’s exposed a lot to it. I have a ranch, which is like my favorite place in the world, and even in Paris, every weekend we go to the country house.
How has your life changed since becoming a mother?
I don’t have a lot of time anymore so I know my friends have suffered from trying to juggle everything. Your social life suffers a little bit, definitely. Every parent will tell you that. I was at one point in my life very involved with social causes and as passionate as I am about it I’m still involved but there’s just so much you can do sometimes.