Beautiful model-turned actress Eva Mendes is a star on the rise and her profile will certainly be heightened as the female lead opposite heartthrob Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious 2. Born in Miami, the youngest of four children, Eva and her family would later move to Los Angeles.
She started her acting career taking a role in her first feature film, 1998’s Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, as a summer job while she was attending college at Cal State Northridge. She was discovered because her neighbour, a photographer, had her photo in his portfolio and it caught the eye of an agent. Before her first acting role Eva was uncertain about her future. However, with her first feature under her belt she decided to drop out of college and pursued acting full-time.
Soon after Mendes received small roles in commercials, music videos (Aerosmith’s Hole in My Sole video & Will Smith’s Miami video), and television (ER). Eva has also been cast in several feature films over the years such as Urban Legends: Final Cut, Training Day, All About the Benjamins and will be seen in the upcoming Robert Rodriguez film Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Carl Franklin’s Out of Time and has just completed shooting The Fast and the Furious 2 which will open on June 6. Paul Fischer spoke to the 27-year old actress on the set of Fast and Furious 2 in Miami.
Question: You were raised in Miami?
Answer: No I was born here, but I was raised in LA.
Question: Would you say that you were discovered?
Answer: No, not really. I was having a garage sale where I was living in West Hollywood and my neighbour, was in the business. Everyone is in the business or at least wants to be a part of it. I was really lost at this time of my life. It was almost five years ago. I was doing this garage sale, again, very lost, going to college, not knowing the fuck I was going to do. He took some snap shots of me and he put them in his book. They were actually pretty cute little snap shots. When he shopped his book around, because he was a photographer, a manager said and he was literally one of the cheesiest managements in Hollywood, said they liked me. They wanted to get in contact with me, and that’s kind of how it started. Like a big; ?hatever.’ These people were the worst. They asked me for money, but they did get me started.
Question: Then what happened?
Answer: They sent me out for a film called: Children of the Corn Five??? A brilliant film. Classic. Not just kidding. I got it and it kind of just went from there. That was four and a half years ago.
Question: Who is your character in Fast and Furious 2?
Answer: My character is really cool, because she is this undercover cop. She goes undercover with the biggest drug lord in Miami, and she ends up living a kind of double life. She gets really personally involved and ends up living with him and indulging in his lifestyle. She kind of likes it, but she’s still trying to do the right thing and then she meets the other undercover cop, Paul Walker. And she likes him too! (Laughs) So, she’s kind of a little promiscuous little thing who’s caught in the middle of this triangle.
Question: How do you find working with Paul?
Answer: He’s a mess, and he’s so unattractive too. He’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!
Question: How about kissing him?
Answer: Oh, it’s horrible!
Question: Is he your first on-screen kiss?
Answer: Oh, no, no, no. My first real kiss, like on screen was with Denzel Washington in Training Day. I did a small part, so that was my first. They are really nerve-wracking. But Paul, makes me feel really comfortable. Not only is he completely beautiful, but he’s just cool.
Question: Do you get to drive at all?
Answer: No! I’m the left out person. I’m pissed off.
Question: Did you get to hang out with any other undercover cops?
Answer: I did with the Miami Police. They were really cool. One thing, I was really ignorant thinking a female cop would mean you have to be butch in a way. (Laughs) But no, they were so girly and cool. I love that.
Question: What kind of cool things do you do in this movie?
Answer: I get to kick Tyrese’s ass.
Question: Were you a fan of the first Fast and Furious?
Answer: Yeah. (Laughs) I watched it for research. It’s a fun movie. I am a little quirky. I’m kind of strange and fucked up, so I like the more quirkier things.
Question: This is a really great time for Latino actresses. Is it easier to get into the business now because of Jennifer Lopez, Cruz and Salma Hayek, then say, it was five years ago?
Answer: I don’t know. I wouldn’t call them my role models. It does make it easier in a sense, but in a way it doesn’t. They have opened a lot of doors and have made it easier, but at the same time just because I’m Latin, I don’t feel like I’m either one of them or one of their types. I feel like, I want to compete or be considered for a role Gwyneth Paltrow will be up for as well as Salma Hayek would be up for. I think they are great at what they do.
Question: Jennifer Lopez is now playing the lead in romantic comedies.
Answer: Yeah, I think that’s great. I just don’t think like that. That’s one of the things I like about this film. It’s so racially diverse, that it’s not even an issue. I love that. I don’t even think about it like that. I think Hollywood is too self-conscious, but it’s nice to be a apart of something that it’s trying.
Question: Are you still going to continue with modelling or concentrate on acting?
Answer: I don’t know. I’m doing a Revlon campaign as well. It comes out next year.
Question: Is that for hair or make up?
Answer: It’s for everything actually. It’s cool. I don’t have a plan, I don’t know if that’s bad or what.
Question: Big bucks.
Answer: Yeah, right, that was nice! (Laughs)
Question: Do you have another movie coming out?
Answer: I have a couple actually. I have Once Upon a Time in Mexico, with Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp, and Willem Dafoe. You know what’s really sick, is that Willem Dafoe plays my dad in that movie and it’s kind of twisted, because I was so attracted to him. I was like, oh boy. The undertones, I was, I can’t do this.
Question: Were you attracted to Antonio?
Answer: Yes, I was but I was more attracted to Willem. And yes, Melanie was there.
Question: Did you have any kissing scenes with him?
Answer: No, I didn’t, but I kissed Johnny though. That was nice. It was fabulous. It’s Johnny Depp, he’s just ridiculously beautiful and cool and talented. I am actually going to do a movie with Colin Farrell, which I’m really excited about. (makes a cat noise) That’s going to be fun. Ah man.
Question: How is John Singleton as a director?
Answer: Can we just keep talking about Colin Farrell? No, I’m just kidding. (Laughs) Singleton is cool. He’s so talented; he just gives you the freedom to play. The script is constantly changing. I drive him crazy with suggestions and most of the time, he says no. But the fact that he listens and he opens himself up to that.
Question: Have you had any acting lessons?
Answer: Yes, I have.
Question: Do you ever feel intimated working with these highly accomplished actors?
Answer: You know the only person I felt intimidated by was really Willem Dafoe. Yeah, it just keeps going back to Willem. You know what’s weird, I think it’s his intensity. In front of him, I really felt like I am nothing, you are everything. I am your slave! (Laughs) I don’t really think on those terms. I probably am intimidated, but it just comes out in different ways. Like I throw up after work or something. Or get sick to my stomach.