Salma Hayek on getting 'geeky' and working with a very hungry Owen Wilson for new film Bliss
The sci-fi film stars Owen Wilson as a depressed man named Greg whose life seems to be coming undone. When he meets the mysterious Isabel (Hayek), a homeless woman who insists reality is merely a simulation — and has the telekinesis to apparently prove it — his life seems to come undone in a whole new way. Soon, Greg is freed from his worries and responsibilities — until his concerned daughter Emily (Nesta Cooper) tries to pull him back to the old reality.
Bliss grapples with big ideas — our perception of reality, how to achieve true happiness, finding value in hardship — but is also a showcase for Wilson and Hayek as an onscreen duo, bringing an energetic and entertaining dynamic to the heady story. With Bliss now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Hayek spoke to EW about working with Wilson and why writer-director Mike Cahill "had [her] at 'hello.'"
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us about how you got involved and why you wanted to be part of this project.
SALMA HAYEK: I was a fan of the director, and randomly, I got a call from him. He was so passionate and it was so unique. I couldn't understand everything he was explaining to me because he got very technical and geeky. I said yes immediately. It's so hard to come across something original and, frankly, I hate to say it, but that level of passion in someone, that level of love for the project that he wrote. He had me at "hello."
Did he have you do anything to prepare for the role? Did you have to read up on that technical and geeky stuff that he was talking about?
We spent months and months on the phone and talked about it [as] he was rewriting. I was very involved with Mike. We worked really hard. And the funny part was Owen — I cannot love him more, but he had a completely different approach. We finally got together to rehearse, they came to my house, and [Wilson] said, "Do you have something to eat? I didn't eat." I cooked some food, and Mike and I are talking, he's like, "Hmmm. Yes. These are very good, do you have more?" And then when we finished, he goes, "Okay, that was great. Bye." And we're like, "No, we want to do the scenes." "No, I'm good. This was very helpful." And then we got to the set and, yeah, he got everything perfect, he was impeccable, his performance is amazing. He was a joy and so much fun to work with.
Obviously, Owen is known more for his comedy; what was it like working with him as a romantic lead?
It was fun. And it was funny, and we kept bossing each other around, which was hilarious. Maybe if another two personalities tried to do that it would go very badly. He was like, "You should do this like this. That would be hilarious." And I'm like, "No, no, no, no, stop putting weird things into my head." We would laugh a lot about his versions of what I should be doing.
One last thing, how much did you agree with and relate to Isabel's perspective and this idea that you have to experience the good to appreciate the bad?
I think you have to experience the good to appreciate the bad and the bad to appreciate the good. Sometimes you can appreciate the bad in retrospect with the good. You know, memories that you thought, "This was such a bad time because of this," or "I didn't have this," or "I was not doing that," when you look [back] at it, you get a nostalgic feeling, it puts things into perspective, and you kind of cherish the hard times in your life too.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.