How 'Beatriz at Dinner' pushes Salma Hayek to try to understand Trump's America


Beatriz at Dinner began with an impassioned conversation between Salma Hayek, director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White. A Minnesota dentist had just hunted and killed Cecil the Lion, which triggered worldwide outrage and, among said three, curiosity about what it'd be like to share a meal with such a person.

Hayek stars as a pure-hearted holistic healer who, during a lavish meal at her Newport Beach client's home, goes toe-to-toe with a Trumpian capitalist, played by John Lithgow. In the film — which also seats Connie Britton, Chloe Sevingy, Jay Duplass and Amy Landecker — one particular moment, in which Lithgow's Doug gloats about trophy-hunting a rhinoceros, continues to enrage the actress, whose dog was shot by a neighbor last year.

Read more: 'Beatriz at Dinner': Film Review | Sundance 2017

"The reaction of my neighbor, of the authorities and the philosophy around it was so disturbing to me," she told The Hollywood Reporter at The Whitby Hotel, just steps away from Trump Tower in New York City. "I discovered I was not aware to what degree that [attitude] existed in America. I remember crying and calling Miguel and saying, 'Trump is going to win.'"

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: Salma Hayek seen in Manhattan on June 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: Salma Hayek arrives to the 'The Daily Show With Trevor Noah' on June 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Salma Hayek Pinault seen out in Manhattan on June 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: (L-R) Actors Connie Britton, John Lithgow and Salma Hayek attend Build to discuss 'Beatriz At Dinner' at Build Studio on June 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Salma Hayek attends the TimesTalks: The Allegory Of 'Beatriz At Dinner' at New School's Tischman Auditorium on June 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by CJ Rivera/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: Actress Salma Hayek is seen on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: Salma Hayek attends the Gucci & The Cinema Society Host A Screening Of Roadside Attractions' 'Beatriz At Dinner' - After Party at Mr. Purple on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: (L-R) Salma Hayek, Connie Britton and Chloe Sevigny attend the Gucci & The Cinema Society Host A Screening Of Roadside Attractions' 'Beatriz At Dinner' at the Metrograph on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
On Monday, June 5 2017, actress Salma Hayek in the library of the Soho House in Miami as she waits for media interviews for the upcoming film 'Beatriz at Dinner,' directed by Miguel Arteta. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Salma Hayek attends the screening of 'Miguel Arteta's Beatriz At Dinner' at Mayfiar Hotel on June 1, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Salma Hayek attends the Sundance London Filmmaker and Press Breakfast at Picturehouse Central on June 1, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
FLORENCE, ITALY - MAY 29: Salma Hayek arrives at the Gucci Cruise 2018 fashion show at Palazzo Pitti on May 29, 2017 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Gucci)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Francois-Henri Pinault (L) and Salma Hayek attend the 70th Anniversary Dinner during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Kristina Nikishina/Epsilon/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Salma Hayek attends the 70th Anniversary screening during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Salma Hayek Pinault attends Kering Talks Women In Motion At The 70th Cannes Film Festival at Hotel Majestic on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 22: Actress Salma Hayek attends Kering Women in motion Lunch with Madame Figaro on May 22, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 22: Salma Hayek attends the Chopard Trophy photocall at Hotel Martinez on May 22, 2017 in (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Fran�ois Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek are spotted at the Majestic Hotel during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at on May 20, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - MAY 10: Salma Hayek attends Cini party during the 57th International Art Biennale on May 10, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Salma Hayek attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Naomi Campbell (L) and Salma Hayek attend the 'Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story' dinner hosted by Sean 'Diddy' Combs & Naomi Campbell presented by Apple Music at Loulou's on May 16, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Apple/Sean 'Diddy' Combs)
Salma Hayek and Eugenio Derbez attending at red carpet of film Premiere Latin Lover at Teatro Metropolitan on May 03, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico (Photo by Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Ahead of Roadside Attractions' release of Beatriz at Dinner on Friday, Hayek tells THR of playing such a different character, loving Lithgow and remaining hopeful about the country's future: "It is my duty as a citizen to understand the rest of America."

Beatriz isn't your usual character. What do you admire about her?

I love the fact that she is who she is. She is authentic, gracious and pure. She might not have a sense of humor or any social skills, but she also has no complex and she's not a hypocrite. She is not impressed with these people, she would be just as grateful to be anywhere else. And she really tries to listen, but she has a strong sense of justice.

Lacey Terrell/Roadside Attractions

Beatriz is the polar opposite of Lithgow's Doug. Did two remain apart throughout production?

I tried, but he's just so freaking lovely. How can you reject this angel? I have so much respect for him. And I really enjoyed engaging with him in those scenes. He is a dream to work with. We love each other so much.

This was shot in August 2016 — did election headlines affect things on set?

There was an excitement to say, "Oh my god, this movie is very relevant," but the script was exactly the same as the year before. We didn't change anything or adjust anything because of what's happening. I like how it doesn't demonize either side — both are treated with respect, and a lot of the arguments that Doug makes are smart and valid.

Read more: How Salma Hayek Pulled Off a Cannes Mariachi Stunt

What about this story continues to resonate with you?

Mike White is a visionary — he demonstrated this situation of polarity that we saw it last year in the country, but now we are seeing it in the world. It's kind of scary because of how dead on he was.

I also had an experience in February, before we started shooting, where a neighbor shot my dog. And the reaction of my neighbor, of the authorities and the philosophy around it — if it was legal — was so disturbing to me. I discovered I was not aware to what degree that [attitude] existed in America. I remember crying and calling Miguel [Arteta] and saying, "Trump is going to win," and he said no.

The whole thing is exactly what happens to Beatriz in the script with [the neighbor shooting] her goat. Then later on, we saw the pictures of Trump's sons with the leopards, and even now, he pulled out of the Paris agreement. That's strange.

See more photos of Salma Hayek through the years:

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Salma Hayek wearing a beaded brocade dress; circa 1990; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
Mexican movie star Salma Hayek, among the guests of honor at the Milan Fashion Week, sits next to Antonia Dell'Atte to attend the fashion show of Giorgio Armani's spring/summer collection; the Italian model, wearing a fancy black and gray dress, used to be Armani's muse in the Eighties. Milan (Italy), 7th March 1998. (Photo by Alberto Roveri/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 01: Cannes 95: Photo Call 'Desperados' In Cannes, France On May, 1995-Salma Hayek. (Photo by Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during Celebrity Auction to Benefit LA Youth Network - October 1, 1996 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - circa 1997: Salma Hayek at Planet Hollywood. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during Tom Ford of Gucci Hosts Fashion Benefit for APLA - June 5, 1997 at Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during Cannes 1999 at La Croisette in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 5: Actress Salma Hayek and actor Hugh Grant attend the Eighth Annual MTV Movie Awards on June 5, 1999 at The Barker Hangar, Santa Monica Air Center in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22: Salma Hayek arrives during the Sony Tropfest Film Festival at the Domain February 22, 2004 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Carlos Santana and Salma Hayek during 2004 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute Event Honoring Carlos Santana- Arrivals at The Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Salma Hayek during After The Sunset New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during 20th IFP Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals at Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Salma Hayek (Photo by Tony Barson/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during Bandidas Paris Premiere in Paris, France. (Photo by Tony Barson Archive/WireImage)
Salma Hayek during The 21st Annual American Cinematheque Award Honoring George Clooney - Arrivals at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 16: Actress Salma Hayek and Clive Owen attend the afterparty for the premiere of Universal's 'Children of Men' at the Napa Valley Grille on November 16, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - JUNE 8: Actress Salma Hayek and partner, chief executive officer of PPR, Francois-Henri Pinault arrive Pinault's private dinner at the Fondazione Cini during the 52nd annual Biennale June 8, 2007 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 20: Actor Salma Hayek attends Global Green USA's 5th annual awards season celebration at Avalon Hollywood on February 20, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 18: Actress Salma Hayek attends the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premiere at the Palais des Festivals during the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 18, 2008 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 'Rock The Kasbah' fundraising gala benefitting Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Unite foundation on October 23, 2008 at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actress Salma Hayek arrives at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actress Salma Hayek attends the Palme d'Or Closing Ceremony held at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual International Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2010 in Cannes, France.
PARIS - OCTOBER 04: Salma Hayek arrives for the Stella McCartney Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2011 show during Paris Fashion Week at Opera Garnier on October 4, 2010 in Paris, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
Actress Salma Hayek attends the Bloomberg & Vanity Fair cocktail reception following the 2011 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the residence of the French Ambassador on April 30, 2011 in Washington, DC.
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 11: Salma Hayek attends the Opening Ceremony at the Palais des Festivals during the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and Mexican actress Salma Hayek pose during the 'Puss in Boots' photocall at Carlton Beach during the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 in Cannes. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek attend the 'Il Mondo Vi Appartiene' Dinner during the 54th International Art Biennale at Fondazione Cini on June 1, 2011 in Venice, Italy.
WESTWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 'Puss In Boots' Los Angeles Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on October 23, 2011 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 'La Chispa De La Vida' Photocall during day seven of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival at the Grand Hyatt on February 15, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frederic Nebinger/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/VF12/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Actress Salma Hayek attends 'The Prophet' Premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Film Francais/WireImage)
DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Salma Hayek attends the The Prophet - Press Conference on Day 6 of the second Ajyal Youth Film Festival on December 6, 2014 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for DFI)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Salma Hayek and Francois- Henri Pinault attend the World Premiere of 'Exodus Gods and Kings' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 3, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actress Salma Hayek attends The Weinstein Company & Netflix's 2015 Golden Globes After Party presented by FIJI Water, Lexus, Laura Mercier and Marie Claire at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for FIJI Water)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Salma Hayek speaks during The Facebook Creative Talks Part 1, as part of Advertising Week Europe, Piccadilly, on March 23, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images for Advertising Week)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14: Salma Hayek attends the 'Il Racconto Dei Racconti' ('Tale of Tales') photocall during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic,)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Salma Hayek attends the 'Rocco And His Brothers' Premiere during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Salma Hayek attends a Mamarazzi Event celebrating 'The Prophet' hosted by THE MOMS with Funoogles and Plaque HQ at the Dolby 88 Theater on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 2015 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030 in Central Park on September 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Actress Salma Hayek attends the 22nd Annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ELLE)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Salma Hayek attends Charlotte Tilbury's naughty Christmas party celebrating the launch of Charlotte's new flagship beauty boutique in Covent Garden on December 3, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Charlotte Tilbury)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JANUARY 16: Mexican actress and producer Salma Hayek poses for pictures during the press conference to promote the animated film 'El Profeta' at Hotel St Regis on January 16, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
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How do you hope people feel after this movie?

The movie takes this polarization and tries to create a communication which, right now we're not really having. One of the things that scares me the most about what's happening is my lack of understanding of the other side. I don't like this. I don't like to say, "Oh, they are crazy." No. I want to understand better what is it that they are seeing. Because I live in the U.S. as well as in other countries, and I travel a lot, [I see that] outside of the States, people see it as insanity. They can't believe it. They think it's laughable and shocking; they are embarrassed for us. But in the States, there's a large population that don't see his actions as anything erratic or stupid or offensive. It scares me; I don't understand the thought process behind that and I must do it. It is my duty as a citizen to understand the rest of America.

I also believe that sometimes when you are surrounded by only one mentality, it's hard for you to see the other mentality. So, maybe if you step out and take a look beyond your environment, we can start understanding each other and have a conversation. I hope it starts this dialogue.

How did you bring a mariachi band to Cannes?

I was looking at all these people [at the anniversary photo call] and it dawned on me that 10 percent of the people standing there were Latinos, and the majority were Mexican. Sometimes we don't represent 10 percent in America. This was at 2 o'clock, and I thought, tequila, mezcala y mariachi. I said to my husband, "We have to bring the mariachi." And he said, "You are crazy, this is a gala, we can't show up with a mariachi." We found a mariachi in Paris, and we got the mezcala and the tequila. The logistics were horrible — there is no place to stay in Cannes, there are no flights, and my former assistant helped me. I couldn't believe my luck when I crashed that party.


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