The Love Scene So Awful, Salma Hayek Cried While Filming It

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Updated

salma hayek

Love scenes are often understandably tricky. The exposure and intimacy, the surrounding crew and production staff, the potential embarrassment—it isn’t easy to imagine actors’ perspectives before and during sex scenes. And, as Grazia reports, Salma Hayek endured a significant ordeal while filming a love scene for the 1995 action classic Desperado. 

Salma Hayek In Desperado

In a revealing interview on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s podcast, Armchair Expert, Hayek recounted the emotional challenge she surmounted while shooting a love scene alongside the film’s co-star Antonio Banderas. 

Hayek, an industry veteran and Oscar-nominated actor perhaps best known for his role as Frida Kahlo in the film Frida, related her initial excitement surrounding working alongside Banderas under the direction of the brilliant Mexican-American director Robert Rodriguez.

Salma Hayek And Antonio Banderas Love Scene

Set against a rugged Mexican backdrop, the movie centers around a long-haired, gun-toting musician, El Mariachi (played by Banderas), and his love interest, a beautiful bookstore owner, Carolina (portrayed by Salma Hayek). 

During production, things took a decidedly distressing turn upon Hayek learning that she and Banderas were slated to film a love scene—one Salma had not been informed of until after production began.

Salma Hayek Was Uncomfortable

The actor recalled distinct discomfort, an understandable feeling upon learning such news. She elaborated that the studio behind the film demanded the scene, regardless of the significant, legitimate challenge it presented for Hayek.

For her, the scene was anything but enjoyable. 

But Rodriguez and the film’s crew were thankfully accommodating. To ease her discomfort, they arranged a closed set involving only Salma Hayek, Banderas, Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Avellán, the director’s then-wife and the film’s producer.

Emotional Toll

salma hayek

But these measures could not lessen the ultimate and inevitable emotional toll. Hayek, conveying her fear and embarrassment, recalled breaking down in tears during the shoot. For his part, Banderas was unruffled, Salma remembered, which only heightened and contrasted her emotionality. 

Hayek took pains to emphasize, throughout her interview on the podcast, how supportive and understanding both Banderas and Rodriguez were—noting neither of them pressured her.

Nonetheless, the experience amounted to an enormous challenge, and the scene’s final cut reflects Salma Hayek’s struggle: the love scene is chopped up into separate segments due to her inability to stay in character for extended periods. 

Similarities To Another Film

It’s interesting to note the similarities and differences between Hayek’s love scene in Desperado and her infamous snake-dance scene in another Rodgriguez film, the cult action-horror film From Dusk Till Dawn. 

Like her love scene in Desperado, the sequence where Hayek performs an evocative dance with a snake was absent from the working script when she took on the role. Harboring a phobia of snakes, the actor rejected any collaboration with the reptile.

However, Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (who wrote the film and co-starred in it) threatened to replace her—promoting Salma Hayek to face her fears and attempt the scene. 

Hypnotized During The Shoot

salma hayek

To do so, she researched snake symbolism, even “brainwashing” herself to the point where she sincerely believed dancing with a snake translated to dancing with her own “inner power.”

Ultimately, Hayek claims to have been hypnotized during the shoot, remembering nothing of it till this day due to her deep trance state. Moreover, the scene was unchoreographed; Rodriguez directed her to merely sense the music and dance accordingly.

Which she did. The consummate professional.