Eva Mendes is an actress who is having one hell of a year, from the likes of 2 Fast 2 Furious, to the latest Denzel Washington film Out of Time and now teaming up – literally – with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear in the oddball comedy Stuck on You, in which she plays an aspiring actress trying to make it in Hollywood, boobs and all. The beautiful actress talked to PAUL FISCHER in New York.
WAS IT NATURAL FOR YOU TO DO A FILM LIKE STUCK ON YOU?
MENDES: It was, it fell into place. It was nice to not have a gun or not have a major attitude or be the tough girl, but the real reason is that I’m obsessed with the Farrelly Brothers. ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and ‘Kingpin’ are two of my favourite films ever and that was before I was an actress. So, I’ve always just taken to their sense of humour and loved their films. So, when this came up, before I even knew what the character was, when my agent said, ‘Oh, the Farrellies are casting for the new film and we’re probably going to get you into read,’ I was like, ‘Yes, whatever it is.’ I didn’t care what the role was.
SOUNDS LIKE YOU WOULD’VE DONE IT FOR NO MONEY EVEN?
MENDES: I’m obsessed with them, I’m not stupid [Laughs]. I’m just kidding.
APRIL IS AN ASPIRING STARLET, DID YOU PLAY OFF OF ANYONE YOU KNEW?
MENDES: I drew from a few people that I’ve run into through the years, the girls in the casting offices, but the thing that makes her different, she does give in to certain stereotypes such as the fake boobs and the fake tan and the really streaked hair and stuff like that, but where she’s different, she’s such a great person and she doesn’t hangout with people because of who they are or because of where they can get her. She hangs out with people because she likes them and when she first meets the twins, she’s so excited to meet normal people because to her, they’re normal. It’s like, ‘Oh, finally,’ and she’s so excited and at the end, I love that at the end of the scene, when I meet the twins, the Farrellies left a line that I adlibbed which was, ‘You guys are fun,’ and they closed the scene with that, and I’m so glad because I just said it when I there. I didn’t think about it, but it just came out because I felt like she finally found people that are fun and so not pretentious and just having a good time and she got them and it clicked.
WAS IT FUN TO WORK WITH THE BROTHERS?
MENDES:They were way more than what I expected because I expected them to be funny and brilliant and great overall, but I did not expect the Farrelly’s to be such family men. Their families are around all the time. Both of them have amazing wives and children and that says a lot about who they are as men, and they were just so loveable and open and I got to tell you, I’ll be an extra in their films any day.
DOES THIS EXPERIENCE MAKE YOU WANT TO DO MORE COMEDY?
MENDES:Yeah. It does, but I also know that I’ve been spoiled because I also feel that I’ve worked with the best. So, I’ve feel like I’ve been spoiled and I know that not every comedy is like this, but yes, it does make me want to venture out and see what I can explore comedically.
HOW WAS IT WORKING OFF TWO LEADING MEN, BASICALLY?
MENDES: Fun. It was really cool. Two is better than one, in this situation anyway because everything got doubled. The humour got doubled, the talent was doubled, and I think that if one of them were to suck, it would’ve been really hard because it would’ve been like, ‘Oh, why do you have to be here,’ and the eye contact and all of that stuff, but they’re both so amazing, Matt [Damon] and Greg [Kinnear], and so different. Greg is more the overtly funny one. Matt was more the dry and maybe the more deadpan funny one, but they were both equally funny. So, I had so much to go off of, and I loved it.
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW YOUR CAREER’S GOING?
MENDES: Half and half. I have very high expectations for myself, but yet, I can’t believe it’s happened this quickly or that it’s happened one after the other like this. So, I’m a little bit shocked about that and a little bit surprised just about my year and the people that I’ve worked opposite.
HAVE YOU LOST SOME OF YOUR PRIVACY?
MENDES: I’m losing a little bit, and as the moments go by, it’s a little bit more. That’s a little bit weird. I’m not used to that at all, and I don’t like it, but I understand that it’s part of it and I just have to learn to deal with it.
HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
MENDES: I haven’t really been dealing with it. I just don’t…first of all, I do read everything that’s written about me. I do. I’m not one of those who says, ‘I don’t read the tabloids.’ Are you crazy, I’m like, ‘I’m in the tabloids, let me check it out,’ and I take it as a laugh. I do laugh at it and I also like to see how much of it is the truth and how much of it is not. So, it’s interesting to me.
WHAT’S THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING WRITTEN ABOUT YOU?
MENDES:I think that it was in ‘The Star’ or some tabloid thing that I was in Miami when I was shooting this movie and I was topless at the pool, trying to pick up on a girl. I was like, ‘I don’t remember that night.’ So, that was pretty funny and I called my mom and told her to get it because that was the first time I’d made the tabloids and it was a little thing, and to me, it’s not a big deal, but I just want to prep my family for the other things that I’m sure are going to be said and done.
WHAT ABOUT BEING ON COVERS OF MAGAZINES?
MENDES:I think that I’m in denial. I think, because I have a sister who looks a lot like me, I go, ‘Oh, that’s Janet. That’s not me. That’s my sister.’ I’m in denial a little bit.
WHAT ABOUT GETTING TO THE JLO LEVEL?
MENDES: Why the JLo level? Why not Gwyneth Paltrow level, because she’s Latin? The name gets thrown around a lot and it’s just like, I don’t know, I just want to create my own kind of path and reach whatever kind of level that I’m going to reach. I certainly, by the way I dress, I hope that you can tell by the way that I carry myself, by the way that I act on a red carpet, I’m not one of those people that’s looking for fame. I’m not dieing for attention. I don’t dress provocatively to get attention. I just am who I am and who I’ve been my whole life. So, I’m certainly not looking for a level of fame that is ridiculous, not at all. I’m looking to work with people like the Farrelly’s and Matt Damon and Denzel Washington and George Clooney.
HOW DO THE FARRELLY’S WORK ON THE SET WITH DIRECTION?
MENDES: I don’t know. I don’t have anything specific. They just create an environment that’s totally safe for you. They create an environment where you just feel so comfortable making an ass out of yourself that you don’t have any…you don’t hold yourself back from anything, you just go. They’ll bring you back at times and sometimes, they’ll tell you to go further, and it’s just kind of a scene by scene thing, but they do create, they are responsible for creating an environment that’s conducive to creativity.
WHEN YOU HAVE A SCENE LIKE THE BIKINI SCENE, DO YOU WORKOUT A BIT?
I hate working out, but when I do have a scene like that, I like to jog sometimes. That’s what I tend to do, but I have to cut out my favourite things in the whole world which is bread, pasta and beer.
DID YOU GET ANY CAREER ADVICE FROM CHER?
MENDES: No, I hadn’t met her. I think that I’m going to muster up the courage to go meet her today because she’s here.
HAVE YOU MET GEORGE CLOONEY?
Yeah, he’s great. I just found him so, I mean, there’s the obvious where he’s just so incredibly gorgeous and sexy and gorgeous and sexy, but he’s nice and he’s very funny. Oh, my God. He pulled out a couple of his good jokes and I was definitely an audience. I was dieing because I was like, ‘God, you’re so funny,’ and it’s clever. It’s not just fart jokes.
WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?
MENDES: I actually just finished another comedy, but I play the straight person this time, but it’s with Luke and Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell. It’s called the ‘Wendell Baker Story’. It’s a really sweet independent film that the Wilson Brothers directed and wrote and again, working with some great company. I play Doreen, Luke Wilson’s girlfriend that he tries to get back after he’s lost me. So, he basically spends the whole movie trying to get me back and get this, I leave him for Will Ferrell. Isn’t that fantastic, I love that.
WHO’S YOUR IDEAL LEADING MAN?
MENDES: I really like Ewan McGregor. I think that he’s just brilliant, so, so brilliant. As far as women go, I love Julianne Moore. I think that she’s amazing. Talk about a career. That’s someone that I really respect as far as the level that they’re at and the level of fame that she’s achieved, but she’s not bombarded. I’m not sure how to verbalize, but it’s respect and she can go to the supermarket, maybe being bugged a bit, but without four bodyguards and a production team.
CAN YOU WALK AROUND THE STREETS?
MENDES: Of course, yeah. Also, I don’t get bombarded. It’s changing now where people feel like they have a right to, not only talk to me because of course you have a right to talk to anyone, but it’s just the way that they do it especially guys. It makes me nervous sometimes when they’re like, ‘Hey, hey, hey, Eva, come here.’ I’m like, ‘Do you really think that I’m going to come over to you and your group of friends. I’m walking to my car. It’s late. I’m outside the supermarket,’ or wherever I’m at, and it actually becomes scary because people get so excited. It’s not that they’re bad, but they get so excited and then, it gets physical.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
MENDES: I’m Cuban, born in Miami, but left there when I was two. I packed my bags, left my parents…no, I’m kidding. I left there when I was two and then, I grew up in Los Angeles.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A FASHION FAX PAS?
MENDES: Not yet. I’m trying to think, but early on, I wore this kind of pant suit and I learned early on that that wasn’t me and it’s not a bad outfit, but I learned early on that I have to be comfortable with what I’m wearing and I didn’t wear a shirt under it and so, I was conscious all night of my breasts popping out or something. I was uncomfortable. I was self aware. I didn’t feel like myself and a stylist gave it to me and said that it was the latest thing and I had to do it and of course, I didn’t have to do it, but I did it, and just learned that, ‘You know what, forget this, I have to be myself at all times, and be comfortable,’ because I was so uncomfortable and it did actually pop out once. It was a random picture and they blurred it out because they couldn’t print it, but still, I was like, ‘See, that shouldn’t be. I can’t do that.’
DID YOU HAVE CONCERN ABOUT BEING OUT THERE IN THIS FILM?
MENDES: No. Actually, I pushed for it because the fact was that the original character, before I was cast, had fake boobs. When I got the role, Pete Farrelly, half compliment, half insult, I think, he was like, ‘Well, obviously, we can’t do the fake boobs thing with you, just forget it.’ I was like, ‘Well, no, no, no, don’t forget it. That’s a big part of who she is and there’s a big reason that character had fake boobs to begin with.’ There’s a reason why a person who doesn’t have any money would spend money on something like that. So, I said, I’ll get them up there. I’ll do it and then, the stylist and I just worked on padding that thing up and squishing up, the tricks.
DO YOU AUDITION WELL?
MENDES: Not really, but when I really know something is mine, there was no way that I was going to let anyone else get this role.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE SURE YOU GET IT?
MENDES: I study and I really prepare myself and get focused because a lot of times, I’m really bad and not that I’m not driven or focused, but I just get very nervous and I let it get to me, the fact that I’m sitting opposite a big director or whatever, and I just kind of let it get to me. I’m not sure how to say it, but with this, I was like, ‘No, there is no room for mistake. There is no room to get nervous for this one,’ even though I was. My little paper was shaking as I was reading it, but I was like, ‘I don’t care if someone’s cell phone goes off, I’m not letting anything take me away from my script right now.’ I just really intensely focus.
YOU’RE NOT FROM A SHOWBIZ FAMILY?
MENDES: No, a butcher and accountant. That’s what I came from.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS?
MENDES: I was always living in Los Angeles, and when I was going to college a few years ago, I was really lost and my neighbour was a photographer and he wanted to do a photo-shoot with me and I did that whole thing, and I was on summer break from school and just really in a sad place, like, ‘What am I going to do with my life? I have no idea.’ He liked the pictures, put on of them in his portfolio and when he shopped his book around, his portfolio around, a manager said, ‘She’s got a great look, does she act?’ That was just the time when being, as they call me, exotic was kind of in and they were looking for people who had a little flavour and then, it just kind of happened like that. I called up that manager and one thing led to the other and I quit school and I just started acting. Obviously, it didn’t happen as easily as that. It did come to me, but I knew that I would be an idiot not to take it. I knew how hard people tried to get into the business, how long, and the fact that someone was coming to me and they were legitimate and they really wanted to get me out there and I had opportunities that people wait so long to have. I was like, ‘I have to take this.’
HAD YOU ACTED BEFORE?
MENDES: No. I mean, in the third grade and fourth grade. I did ‘Cinderella’, but I played the fairy godmother. That was it.
HAVING NOT GOING THROUGH THAT TRAINING, DO YOU THINK THAT’S BEEN A BENEFIT?
MENDES: Yes, but I guess that maybe…I’m not sure because right after, really soon after I got into the industry, I went looking for an acting coach and I’ve been with her for almost the whole five years now and I go to class. So, I do have the training. I just haven’t been through a lot of teachers and methods and my acting coach, she was who Halle Berry thanked at the Oscars last year. So, she’s a great woman and she likes to do things like I do as far as like believe in technique completely, but it’s not about sitting there. There’s no point in acting like a tree unless I’m going to play a tree which I’m not going to play a tree.
WHAT MOVIE WAS IT THAT YOU REALIZED THAT YOU COULD THIS?
MENDES: ‘Training Day’, that was the first time. That was two and a half, three years into my acting where I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not seeing a payoff. I don’t think that I like what I’m doing. I think that I need a change,’ but I didn’t want to quit, and then, I did ‘Training Day’ and I felt for the first time, I felt when I was screen with Denzel, on set with him in the scene, I felt like, ‘Wow, something is happening and I really, really like it.’
YOU SEEM LIKE YOU LIKE TO AVOID LABELS, IS THAT RIGHT?
MENDES: Yeah, I do. It’s human nature though. I do it all the time too. I label things, and people, but there’s no avoiding it.
WOULD YOU NOT TAKE A ROLE BECAUSE YOU’D BE PLAYING A HISPANIC HOUSEWIFE OR SOMETHING?
MENDES: No, but I would stop taking certain roles which is what I’m trying to do now because being pigeonholed, it’s hard to get yourself out of a rut. So yeah, I’m definitely at a place right now where it’s nice because I’m getting choices and people are offering me things, and I’m like, ‘Wow,’ but I’ve got to say no to a lot of things who I think would compromise who I think that I am.
SO, ROLES ARE COMING YOUR WAY THAT YOU HAVE TO SAY NO TO?
MENDES: Well, not anything specific, but again, the tough girl role, and it doesn’t have anything to do with being Latin or anything. It’s just more like, I definitely want to get away from that tough girl thing because it’s really not me. I have a strength, I’m strong, but I’m not, ‘Hand me that gun.’
ARE YOU DEFINITELY WORKING WITH WILL SMITH ON THAT ROMANTIC COMEDY?
MENDES: It’s not quite a done deal. We’re working on dates right now. There are a couple of things that are conflicting. So, I hope that one of them, the one that I want more works out.
DID YOU HAVE TO AUDITION FOR ‘OUT OF TIME’?
MENDES: Oh yeah, I auditioned for that.
STUCK ON YOU OPENS ON DECEMBER 12.