Salma Hayek has come forward with shocking details on the making of her Academy Award-winning film Frida.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Hayek for the first time reveals the awful truth surrounding Friday, the Oscar-winning film that cemented her status as a Hollywood A-lister.
Frida tells the story of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter who did "small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on" during an age when Mexico prided muralists over traditional artists. For Hayek, creating this movie was her lifelong ambition, but to see it through she needed the help of Harvey Weinstein, a man she would describe later as her “monster”.
But that’s not how she knew him initially. "All I knew of Harvey [Weinstein] at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man," writes Hayek. She’d soon find out how terrible a human being Weinstein could be.
To get Frida made, Hayek struck a deal with Weinstein and Miramax: the film would be made, and she’d get credited as a producer, and then she’d have to do five other Miramax films on top of it. This was in the early 90s before Hayek was a name in the United States, and she saw this as not only the culmination of her dream but also her big break into Hollywood.
She was right about it being her big break, but it would be nearly a decade before Frida would see theatrical release, with Weinstein trying to sabotage the film nearly every step of the way.
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As soon as the contract was signed, Weinstein tried to use the deal as leverage to get Hayek to sleep with him. He began a campaign of harassment, appearing before Hayek "at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with."
She refused every advance Harvey made, from offering massages to outright demanding oral sex. With every refusal Weinstein became more and more enraged, eventually threatening her career, and then her life.
When none of it worked, Weinstein took aim at Frida, first delaying production, and then making nearly impossible demands of Hayek just to get the movie started. Among other things, Weinstein demanded she rewrite the script for free and assemble an all-star cast for the film. Hayek miraculously succeeded at every turn, convincing Edward Norton to both rewrite the script and appear in the movie, along with Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, and Geoffrey Rush.
Even when the movie was being made, Weinstein would appear on set and threaten and harass everyone involved, but especially Hayek. At one point he demanded her to take part in a nude sex scene with a woman, even though it wasn’t in the script, or he’d shut the movie down. Hayek felt compelled to do it to save the film but suffered a nervous breakdown on set.
Only after the movie received two Oscars did Weinstein finally relent with Hayek. She never again received a starring role at Miramax, however, and once the contract was up Hayek left as fast as she could.