She sounds cool.
And she is gorgeous.
A screen siren for the 21st century and the face of Calvin Klein, Eva Mendes has beauty and sex appeal that make her anything but ordinary. But, she tells Martyn Palmer, it’s her work – good and bad – she wants to be remembered for
'Sexiest Woman Alive? You know what? I'd rather have an Oscar, thanks very much,' says Eva
The fashionistas posing on the terrace of one of the Venice Lido’s coolest restaurants are trying – and failing – to maintain an air of studied indifference as Eva Mendes glides across the room to meet me. The Italian men (dark designer suits, matching sunglasses) and indeed the women (gold jewellery, matching tans) lingering over lunch turn perfectly coiffed heads to feast on this vision of sophistication, wearing a J Mendel black polka-dot dress, black heels and white belt. When it comes to glamour, Eva is a star and plays the part to perfection.
She was recently voted the Sexiest Woman Alive in an internet poll, but mention this and she rolls her eyes and sighs. ‘Oh yeah,’ she says. ‘But you have to take that stuff with a grain of salt, otherwise you would be destroyed when you’re no longer considered that. So you say thank you and move on. And you know what? I’d rather have an Oscar, thanks very much.’
It’s not that Eva, 36, isn’t aware of how she looks and the effect it has on those around her: she’s grateful for the killer package of genes that nature has so generously provided. But it’s hard to take her too seriously when she attempts to claim that she’s just your average Californian girl. ‘I’m happy with what I have, but you know, today I got my make-up and hair done. Without it I am actually pretty much the girl next door.’
Her fans – and those appreciative Italian diners – would disagree, as would the casting directors and fashion labels who scramble for her endorsement. She’s enjoyed huge box-office success with films such as Hitch, Ghost Rider and The Spirit, and since 2008 has been the face of Calvin Klein.
And Eva has never been afraid to play women who flaunt their sexuality. Her presence in Venice is for the Film Festival premiere of her new movie Bad Lieutenant in which she plays a prostitute. Then there’s the arty ad for Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession perfume, which sent the powers that run American TV into meltdown when they spotted a glimpse of Eva’s bare breasts. The ad was promptly banned from the networks, much to her amusement.
From left: in Bad Lieutenant opposite Nicolas Cage; with boyfriend George Gargurevich
‘Actually I think it was very tasteful and I’m very proud of it. And I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal – it was only one second. Calvin Klein knows what it is doing: it’s pushing the envelope but staying classy.’ Being feminine is something to celebrate, she says, and sexuality is part of that. ‘I love every aspect of being a woman. I believe you should celebrate who you are.’
We’ve talked again since our meeting in Venice and I’ve discovered that Eva is refreshingly open about most things, with one or two notable exceptions (her boyfriend, a spell in rehab). She’s also funny, with a dry wit and almost British sense of humour. ‘Oh I love the Brits – the humour, the music especially. And I love London and Manchester – great cities.’
She loves the travel that comes with her job. ‘I take my own little pillow and my iPod, and my BlackBerry, because that’s like an extension of my arm. Sometimes I travel with some family photos from my childhood and I’ll put them around my room if I’m feeling sappy. I just feel I’m fortunate to go to places that I’d probably never have visited if it weren’t for my work. Being in Venice, it’s so beautiful. You have to appreciate the opportunity, and I do.’
She’s complex, too, and prone to soul searching. In 2008 it was reported that she spent some time at the same clinic that treated Lindsay Lohan a year earlier – the Cirque Lodge in Utah, which specialises in substance and alcohol abuse. There was wild speculation about exactly why she checked herself in. Asked if the pressure of life on the A-list had got to her, she’s quick to refute the rumours. ‘They are all lies,’ she says. ‘Why would there be pressure?’
‘I make conscious decisions to stay out of the limelight. Without my make-up I’m pretty much the girl next door’
At the time, her representatives issued a statement saying that she had been working hard and needed some time off to ‘proactively attend to some personal issues that, while not critical, she felt deserved some outside professional support’.
Speculation that it might damage her career – and in particular her Calvin Klein contract – proved groundless. Indeed the breast incident, which was filmed post rehab, probably guaranteed more publicity than the company could ever have hoped for.
Eva picked up her glittering career exactly where she left off and, even if she’s not about to reveal the details of that spell in rehab, it’s clear that she is a great believer in fighting your demons, no matter what it takes. ‘Yeah, fight them head on. Just be honest with yourself and face it. That’s everything in life for me. I didn’t know how to swim, so I asked my friend to throw me off a boat. I know it’s crazy, but I did it and I survived.’
She happily admits that she’s spent years having counselling. ‘I love therapy,’ she says. ‘There is nothing like going into a room and sitting down and talking to someone who has no emotional investment in your life. Having that person who is only committed to helping you be better, I just love it. I go once a week and, if not, then every two weeks. And if I’m away I phone in. It’s so necessary, especially in my business.’
Eva’s acting career goes from strength to strength. Along with the comedies that she excels at – such as Hitch with Will Smith, and with Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, which is due out later this year – she’s increasingly drawn to darker, more intense material. Ask, for instance, about Bad Lieutenant, and she smiles: ‘I play a drug-addicted prostitute – what do you want to know?’
Eva plays Frankie, a high-class hooker. Her boyfriend Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) is a cop whose life spins out of control as he starts taking drugs to ease the pain of a back injury sustained while rescuing a prisoner from a flooded cell in Katrina-hit New Orleans. ‘I love my character in this film. The older I get, the more I’m attracted to complex and flawed [roles]. For me, Kate Winslet has done it the right way. She has made such amazing choices and she is an incredible actress.’
Directed by Werner Herzog – a master of unconventional cinema – Nicolas Cage gives one of his edgiest, most compelling performances for years in Bad Lieutenant. And Eva matches him every step of the way. ‘For me, it’s a love story wrapped up in this crazy, psychotic film. Although they are corrupt and tortured souls – and even though they have these crazy sexual escapades – there is an innocence that I find interesting. Because at the core of us all there is that need for love.’
Before she started filming, Eva met some real prostitutes in New Orleans – a line of research that most A-list actresses would run from. ‘I don’t want to disclose too much, because it would be unfair to the girls I met. But those women were so nice: they sat down for coffee with my acting coach and me and just talked. We are so quick to judge as a society – including myself – but a girl is a girl. I really enjoyed playing Frankie because she has many layers. I could easily have judged her, but we all have that little girl inside of us who desperately needs love and approval from her parents. And when you break everything down, our choices stem from our childhood.’
Eva’s own childhood was disrupted by her parents’ divorce when she was still a toddler. She was born in Miami, the youngest by 11 years of four children, to Cuban-American parents. Her father ran a meat distribution business and her mother, also called Eva, worked for an aerospace company and later as a teacher. She is still close to both parents and in particular her mother, who is ‘awesome’. ‘My family love what I do and they are very protective. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive bunch. We are very flawed as a family, very dysfunctional, and yet we love each other and we cover each other’s back in all situations.’
Hollywood has come a long way in recent years, she says, in reflecting the ethnic diversity in America, but she still feels that there is more to do. ‘If I’m not conscious of being a Latina actress, the studios remind me every day,’ she says. ‘If there’s a romantic comedy and they want Drew Barrymore – who, by the way, is a friend of mine – or a “Drew Barrymore type”, and I have my agent call and say, “I love this script and I want to try for the role”, then usually the feedback is, “We love Eva, she’s wonderful, but we don’t want to go ethnic for the role.”
‘And my argument is that I have a Cuban background, but I’m as American as Drew, I’m as American as Cameron Diaz – or Lucy Liu. Lucy is American, too, but because we have an ethnic background [Lucy is Chinese- American] it becomes more challenging. You have to work a little bit harder to overcome that. But I’ll keep fighting.’
Despite these prejudices, Eva has been remarkably successful. She dropped out of her marketing course at California State University to take a chance on acting and, after a few straight-to-video roles, found herself an acting coach and began to get noticed, especially after a brief but memorable appearance opposite Denzel Washington in Training Day. It changed her profile almost overnight and the roles improved – she starred in the thriller Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the comedy Stuck on You.
At first, she struggled with the new-found attention. ‘It can be a very confusing time because you think, “Well, I haven’t really done anything, just a couple of movies…” What you’ve put out into the world doesn’t really equal the attention you are receiving; there’s a discrepancy somewhere. For me it was hard to reconcile, but now that I’ve been in the game a little longer and I’ve put my time in, I’m very comfortable with it all.’
After Bad Lieutenant, she filmed The Other Guys (to be released in September), a comedy with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell: ‘Working with Will was so much fun because he’s just adorable and so funny.’ Also on its way to the big screen is the drama Last Night with Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington. ‘Last Night is intense and we’re all playing people who are either betraying somebody or being betrayed. The film asks the question, “What is betrayal?” Is it a glance that lasts too long or a four-hour conversation with a co-worker? Is it sleeping with somebody or is it emotional betrayal? It’s interesting.’
So too was working with Cage again. Eva had starred with him before, in the action thriller Ghost Rider in 2007. They’re friends, she says. ‘Nic’s a lovely guy. One of the things I love about him is that he’s always done whatever the hell he wanted to do. And I envy that.’
Eva’s happy to talk about her involvement with animal welfare. She has campaigned for Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in the past. For a provocative poster with the headline ‘Fur? I’d rather go naked’, she even posed in the buff. ‘I got a dog for the first time about four years ago. I have this beautiful Belgian malinois called Hugo. It started me thinking about animal welfare and that’s when I began getting involved with Peta. I gave up red meat, then I gave up chicken, and I began to educate myself about where our food comes from and the treatment of animals here in the States.’
But any discussion of her relationship with filmmaker George Gargurevich, her boyfriend since 2002, is kept to a minimum. ‘I just don’t discuss that part of my life. I want to be known for my work. Even if sometimes it’s bad work, it’s still my work.’ And if she did tie the knot, the wedding certainly wouldn’t end up in some celebrity magazine.
‘Oh God, no. If I were to get married I’d probably do it in my basement. As for starting a family, I’m honestly not there yet, but who knows? I’m not a planner – so if it happens, it happens. I have seven nephews and nieces and they keep me happy on that front.’
She has a formula, too, for handling the more intrusive paparazzi attention that comes with life as an A-lister in the Hollywood Hills. ‘Where I go and get my coffee in the morning is just a neighbourhood joint, and it doesn’t have paparazzi hanging around outside. I make conscious decisions to stay out of the limelight. Of course when there is a red-carpet event and I have to deliver on that level, I do, but when I’m just going about my day, I do it quietly. There is a certain amount of control that you have. The pararazzi are looking to sell a picture and if you don’t give them anything to sell – if you just look like a normal person going to the market – then it’s boring for them.’ That, of course, is hard to imagine. Eva Mendes, boring? Glamorous, sexy, talented – yes. But boring? Never…
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1271843/Eva-Mendes-diva.html#ixzz0nNL6oNNU
She sounds cool.
And she is gorgeous.
Sure, don't mind not calling Eva sexy at all, she looks like a man in a dress, or pants, doesn't matter. And talent? get real, it doesn't exist in you, Eva.
Eva is sexy , but as for her movie roles.... meh.
I like her and I think she's very beautiful.
I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them. - George W. Bush
so she always plays the sexy girl in every movie and does sexy commercials like the calvin klein one, but doesn't want to be called sexy? okay then...
"This is not meant to be at all offensive: You suffer from diarrhea of the mouth but constipation of the brain." - McJag
Whatever, she's hot.
I wonder what the rehab stint was for...
^^ I heard her rehab stint was for her love of the Columbian powder. Rumors though...
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)