Salma Hayek & Blake Lively Interview For Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’
Three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone returns to the screen with the ferocious thriller ‘Savages,’ featuring the all-star ensemble cast of Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. The film is based on Don Winslow’s best-selling crime novel that was named one of The New York Times’ Top 10 Books of 2010. Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Aaron Johnson), a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon (Taylor Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry—raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Blake Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town…until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Salma Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon – with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (John Travolta) – wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills. ‘Savages’ arrives in cinemas July 6th in the US and September 26th in the UK.
Elena, she’s such a cold, strong character. I can imagine someone like that being fascinating to play, to find some humanity in her?
Salma Hayek: Definitely. ‘Savages’ has conflicts that are very far away from what most of us will ever experience. But there’s aspects about her that I thought were great in this part, that we can identify with. So, she’s not completely divorced from humanity, as strong and bad and cold as she is. I thought that was a great thing to be able to find in a character, and ones like this don’t come around that often. And then to add to that, of course you get an opportunity to work with a director like Oliver Stone and a cast like the cast we have here. It was a no brainer to play Elena, I was so excited to do the movie.
Blake, your character O, she really goes through every emotion imaginable in ‘Savages’?
Blake Lively: It was amazing for me because I got to exist in everyone’s world, in each different character world. From the boys, Ben and Chon in Laguna with this very privileged life, to being tortured in cages in California, to being shipped off to Tijuana. It was a challenge to experience so much in a film (laughs). There was so many different levels. From ultimate happiness and love, to the ultimate pain. O, she really runs the gambit, and that was a huge challenge but definitely a thrill.
What was it about the script that initially grabbed you?
Salma Hayek: I think besides the fact that Oliver Stone is such a good director and so respected, I think he did write a script that every single character is interesting. Even if they’re just a couple of days of work. Every single character feels like a true character, you know? Somebody juicy to play as an actor (laughs). I think that has contributed a lot to the possibility of having all these great, phenomenal talents in ‘Savages.’ It’s unique, definitely. I mean, yes, there’s action but it’s different. Yes, there’s a love story but it’s different – there’s actually a couple of love stories. It’s sexy, but it’s different in a way that it’s sexy. It’s another movie about drugs, but I think this time Oliver has given it a different kind of an edge. It’s very original and unique.
How was it for you working opposite Benicio Del Toro as Lado, this brutal character?
Blake Lively: Benicio just makes it impossible not to believe what’s happening. He’s just such a brilliant actor that the moment he steps into character you forget that this was the man that you were just joking with, that was your ally, your buddy, the guy you were going to advice with for your character. Then once he’s Lado, he’s Lado – he’s terrifying. It really took away all the work from me (laughs), I had to react and be scared and it was a very scary environment that we were in. Benicio is one of the most remarkable actors that I’ve ever witnessed.
What was it like working together. I’ve heard you both really hit it off on set?
Blake Lively: Salma, I truly fell in love with her – I think maybe she’s the love of my life (laughs). She’s such an incredible actress and to see her against all these other strong men, I mean, Benicio’s such a powerhouse. Then you see this tiny, 5ft tall woman just commandeering all of these men and tearing them apart in scenes and never looking silly. Because she’s so beautiful and she’s such a babe too, you could just objectify her and be like, “Wow, look at her,” and not really hear what she’s saying. But your really shaking in your boots because she’s so scary when she comes after them. She’s scary in person when she comes after them (laughs). She’s such a smart woman, an idol for me personally. When I just watch the way she is with her family too, outside of the set, the way she balances that. I was so lucky not to only get to work with the actors I got to work with, but also to witness these incredible human beings as well. And with Salma, we would work on our scenes for hours. With and without Oliver.
Salma Hayek: Working with Blake, for me, I get turned on by talent (laughs). I get fascinated, I want to watch it, I find it really interesting. And I think that it is really rare to find instincts and natural talent, combined with professionalism and discipline. Usually I see actors that are really good, really professional, really disciplined. But then I’ve seen raw talents that are careless and they’re just there, but then when they get to work they’re amazing. Blake Lively has both, she has the instincts and the talent. She also has the intelligence and the professionalism. And with her being so young, it was so rare to see all of that. It was fascinating. She’s wonderful!
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