Eva Mendez is sultry, alluring and now action heroine, as the reporter drawn to the skeletal Ghost Rider in the demonic comic book adventure that finally unspools around the world this month. The beautiful actress talked to Paul Fischer
Question: How much about Ghost Rider did you know about?
Eva Mendes: I didn’t know a thing about it except Nicholas Cage was doing it and I’ve been dying to work with him and that Mark Steven Johnson, who I’ve also been a fan of, is writing it and directing it so I went ,ummm. Sony just happens to be my favourite studio so those three things combined I just figured.
Question: What a suck up.
Mendes: No, I promise you it’s not. I’m not your suck up kind of girl. At first, I was a little worried that Roxanne in the script that she wasn’t…I had a meeting with Mark and I was like “Mark, I love the idea. I love the comic book” because I obviously did my research and looked at the comic book. I love the idea of selling your soul to the devil because I kind of feel like I do it a little everyday in this business or every other day. I sat down with him. It was hysterical. We just had a really great time. I said, “ok now that all the laughs are over I know I love you as a person, but this character, I just don’t want her to be the girl. I want her to be something and I want her to have a real struggle and stuff” and he’s like “it’s not there right now, but I promise you it’s going to be there.”
Question: How much input did you have into developing the character?
Mendes: None. Not much. But, I took his word for it. I totally trusted him which is something you shouldn’t do too often with men in Hollywood. I trusted him and it turned out great. He created a really beautiful love story within this amazing visual comic book movie so it has heart.
Question: Were you a fan of comic books?
Mendes: Not so much of comic books, but I’m a fan of the idea of good verses evil. Like that simplicity. Just breaking it down and being like good verses evil and obviously always having good prevail.
Question: Have you had much interaction with the hardcore fans?
Mendes: I went to Comic Con. I’ve been there twice now actually. It’s so cool. I love it. I love when people are passionate about something like that. I love people dressing up their little kids. It’s so cute.
Question: How have they responded to you playing the character?
Mendes: So far so good because they really haven’t seen the movie. So I hope after they see it, they’re still good. I think it’s a great time because in the comic book, Roxanne is a blond-hair, blue-eyed woman, which I’m obviously not. I was really worried that the hardcore fans don’t think “who is this exotic little creature playing Roxanne Simpson? It doesn’t make sense.” So I realized that in the comic book, Roxanne is also very voluptuous and has massive boobs. I don’t know if you can tell by those scenes, but I actually added a little weight and grew in the fun areas. I said I’m going to get to the hardcore fans one way or another. So I let myself go a little bit more voluptuous and it was very easy because I just skipped the gym and ate.
Question: Was it fun doing that?
Mendes: Yeah, I didn’t let myself go, I just allowed myself to have more fun and not be like oh it’s time for work I have to go to the gym or I can’t have that pizza. I’d be like yeah I can have that pizza.
Question: Are you involved in any of the action sequences in the film?
Mendes: I am involved in the action sequences. I get tossed around once which was really fun. I was put up in this harness and I was scared at first and the like first 60 foot toss, I was like “can I do that again?” They’re like “yep” so we kept doing that again. I did suffer from superhero envy because I don’t have any superhero powers.
Question: What was it like getting to work with Cage after you’ve been wanting to for so long? What did you expect?
Mendes: I expected the unexpected and that’s what I got. As an individual, he’s so unique and it comes through in his work. You prepare for a scene and you getting ready for that next day and you obviously go and you have your line memorized. You have an idea of what you want to do, but obviously you stay open or I stay open and you see what happens. Every time he would get me because he does this great thing where he turns things upside down and he doesn’t play it the obvious way. He doesn’t play the line or the scene in the obvious way which really kept me on my toes and I was like “oh cool, what are we doing today?” He just kind of flips it. Then he can make the most mundane sentences sound really heavy. I was like how do I do that? I actually made heavy sentences sound mundane. I was like I need to reverse that.
Question: Can you talk about being reactive to something that isn’t really there? Do you have a creative imagination?
Mendes: I do have a really massive major imagination. I relied on that for this. Towards the end of filming, things got crazy. It got really bad. As far as my imagination, I would just take stuff home with me. You can see the film is pretty dark. It’s very entertaining. I think one of the great things is it has not only great visuals, but it’s got a darkness to it that you can really get caught up in. It’s intense. The last three weeks were night shoots and you’re working at night, you in a cemetery kind of like this and it’s 4AM, 5AM and you’re going home alone after work. It got a little creepy. But, that’s good because I allowed that in.
Question: Mark spent the night in a cemetery. You didn’t do that?
Mendes: No. Hell no. Absolutely not. I don’t see the point. It think it’s great, but no.
Question: Can you elaborate on your character’s struggles and what Mark added that sparked your interest more?
Mendes: Basically, I wanted every woman to be able to kind of relate to her. I think we did that because not too many people sell their soul to the devil like that and have their head on fire, but there are problems in relationships and I think people can, women can a lot of times feel, well men as well, there’s just so many obstacles that can complicate a relationship and when people aren’t honest or too honest in how we deal with that, I just wanted to bring that human nature into it and represent women and what we go through sometimes. The way we did that was just to be as realistic as possible. I play a reporter and I play a career, but I play such a girl. I love that in a sense. I say she’s still like that 15-year-old girl [who] is still inside of her waiting for him in the rain. It’s a heart breaking scene in the beginning. It’s that girl who believes in such true love and that girl who just went on and did her thing as a career woman and still wants to believe in love.
Question: Is that kind of like you?
Mendes: Yeah I think so. Yeah I do. I know I can be a cynic and can act like a smart ass at times, but I’m actually really super overly sensitive and I’m very much a bit of a romantic.
Question: How much of the film have you seen before tonight?
Mendes: I’ve seen a lot of it. Have probably seen about 70% of it and I love it, but I’ve seen it chopped up because for different reasons whether we were at Comic Con. So I’ve seen it not in its sequence.
Question: What was it like seeing it at the cemetery?
Mendes: It was rad. It was really cool.
Question: What else are you up to in your busy professional life?
Mendes: I’ve had a really great year you guys. I think I’ve kind of stepped it up creatively. I finished a film a few months ago with Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Duvall and Mark Wahlberg called “We Own the Night,” which is my first real dramatic role. I’ve played dramatic roles before, but not in lead situations.
Question: Who do you play in that?
Mendes: I play Joaquin Phoenix’s love interest. A girl named Amanda. It’s a really heavy film which I’m really excited to see actually. That should be coming out next year and then I produced my first independent and I starred in it. Fingers crossed. It’s really interesting. It’s called “Live”. It’s a commentary on where we are going with reality television. I play this executive hired at a network to bring the network back up and kind of compete with those other networks that are kicking our butt because of the trash they have on TV. I come up with a way to put Russian roulette on television. I find this loop hole like legally. It’s actually really well written and really cool. It makes a major statement which I’m really excited about. Hopefully we’ll be doing the whole film festival circuit next year. It’s a really interesting topic to me because I feel pretty passionately that we’re dumbing down of America. We’re deep into that.
Question: Have you done a lot of green screen work before?
Question: So what was that like for you?
Mendes: It was so weird. It was so weird you guys. You’re not looking at anything. It literally is a green screen. I didn’t know. I thought that was just something they called it. I got there and was like oh you are green and it’s bright. You have just a frame of reference like you know “there he is behind you” and “there he is coming up.” It’s kind of cool because I got caught up kind of like old school. I kind of thought this was like what they had to do back then, just pretend. I kind of got into that whole thing, really in my mind. But, it’s interesting.
Question: What is a tennis ball on a stick type thing?
Mendes: Yes, there were some tennis balls on sticks. Then there was some tape as well.
Question: Were your nightmares worse than the ones you saw on screen?
Mendes: Yeah they were. Well because they felt more real and Mark wasn’t in my dreams saying “cut.” They were in my dreams doing weird stuff.
Question: Do you believe in something like the devil?
Mendes: I think it more exists in…No, I don’t. I was trying to be like creative right now and be philosophically. No, I don’t believe in that. I believe people can be evil.
Question: Are you religious?
Mendes: What are you talking about? I don’t talk religion or politics because I’m not the brightest girl around. I tend to get myself into trouble so I make a choice, no politics or religion.
Question: You seem to have a cynical view of Hollywood.
Mendes: I think it’s realistic. I think I just watch out for the wolves. There’s a lot of them, but there’s a lot of great ones as well. I’ve actually never had a bad experience, but I’ve heard about them and I’ve seen them with other people so I steer clear away from them. Sometimes you can’t help it, but you put out there what you attract. You attract what you put out there.
Question: Have you turned down a project based on that?
Mendes: That’s a really good question. Yes, I did. It hasn’t come out yet. It’s been in the can for two years. It’s like cool. Not cool for them, but cool for me that my decision was based on something.
Question: Where did that instinct come from?
Mendes: I don’t know. I think we know. We can see smoke signals. I think we choose to ignore them sometimes. I think we know and I have a really great team that is very protective over me as well. I’ve been fortunate to have that.
Question: Is it frustrating waiting for this movie to come out? You finished shooting awhile ago.
Mendes: A little bit, yeah. I was so excited about it coming out earlier because I do love this movie. It means so much to me. The whole experience shooting it meant so much and the actual story. I just became so involved emotionally with this movie it’s kind of like come on already. Come on. I want people to see it. I want to take my nephews to see it. I want my family to see it.
Question: How would you classify this film? Part horror? Part action? Obviously there’s some romance in it.
Mendes: Yeah I think for me it’s a little bit of everything because it’s funny at times too. I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nic is so great at making fun of himself. I think it’s such a visual treat with emotional connection. I don’t even know how I would go about labelling it. It would be unfair to the movie.
Question: Would you do another film like this?
Mendes: Yes, but I would have to have some kind of superhero power.
Question: What kind of power?
Mendes: Oh I don’t know. Anything. Maybe they would let me fly. I could be anything, but with some kind of power.
Question: Have you signed on to do a sequel yet?
Mendes: I don’t know. Did I?
Question: You don’t know if you’ve signed a contract?
Mendes: No, good question. I should find out.
Question: So there’s been no mention of a sequel yet?
Mendes: No, I don’t think so. I’m not sure. Maybe they’ve got someone else. Yeah I’m going to look into that. You guys are making me paranoid. Did they shoot the sequel already? What, what?
Question: Since you play a reporter, did you do any research?
Mendes: I did some research, but one of the things that really got to me was when I am reporting I have to get that reporter voice on.
Question: What voice?
Mendes: You know, oh gosh it’s been like a year and a half. I’m so up and down. I can get a little whiny. I don’t like my voice at all. I can get a little whiny especially when I get excited. I’m like, “come you guys let’s just.” You’re like, “oh shut up.” So I have to be really careful about my voice and my cadence once I was reporting. So that was my big thing.
Question: Do you remember any specific moments that were funny or off the cuff with Nic?
Mendes: This is the first time we’ve done these interviews so I’m like wait. There were many fun moments. Where did they go? Where did they fly off to?
Question: What about when he’s on the ground screaming when he’s transforming? It must be hard to take that seriously when there’s nothing happening?
Mendes: That’s funny.
Question: Did Nic have a humour about that too?
Mendes: I think he’s so into what he’s doing. He’s such a professional. That was kind of funny to me because I’m like I know this is going to look amazing, but there’s no bike. This is weird, but I just had to grow up and that’s where I just become really silly. The thing that I would do is I would start laughing and me and Nicolas called it “giggleromma.” We would go into giggleromma mode and I just couldn’t stop. You remember that moment when you’re in church or something. Any moment where you have to be serious and quiet. He’s talking to me as Ghost Rider and it would be funny sometimes. I would let it go and he would start laughing.
Question: Did he wear anything different when he was Ghost Rider?
Mendes: yes, he wore a bra and panties. They were white lace. He went opposite.
Question: Not black?
Mendes: Yeah not black, he went white lace. Totally kidding.
Question: His flame turns blue when he sees you so is there a moment where you have to kiss a skull?
Mendes: There is a moment. There is a really cool scene where I do smooch the skull.
Question: Isn’t that against fire safety rules?
Mendes: Yes, but its fun to break the fire safety rules. Just kidding. There’s going to be a little kid setting something on fire, “Eva Mendes said I could do this.” So yeah it was a really beautiful actually.
Question: Were you kissing a tennis ball then?
Mendes: Yeah, what is that weird? I was actually kissing Nicolas. He wasn’t on fire, but you had to kind of pretend you were going through flames which is fun. I’m not going to complain about kissing Nicolas.
Question: Was there a hoodie or something over his head?
Mendes: He did, but not when I was kissing him. He did have a hood, but when I was kissing him that one time through the flame thing, which I hope Mark doesn’t get mad at me for telling you that because it was kind of a special moment, he would but at that point he didn’t have it. When he would be the Ghost Rider, he actually had this mask over his head.
Question: So how surprised are you when you see everything come together in the film?
Mendes: Yeah, it’s really cool. You’re really happy that you have faith and that’s where actually going to class, I study religiously with my acting coach of years and that’s where all of our inner work really pays off. You’re acting opposite some stunt guy and a green screen and with a tennis ball and that’s where it’s like thank God I studied so much and I do this work I just don’t show up and go “where’s my cute little outfit to wear?” I actually prepare for my characters. That’s where I’m really thankful so when I see it, I’m like oh gosh and I remember what I’m really thinking in that scene because there was nothing else.
Question: And what about the screaming?
Mendes: I can scream. I’m great. I’m Cuban you guys so I get obnoxiously loud.
Question: How did you like shooting in Australia?
Mendes: I loved it. Amazing restaurants. Amazing people. I love Australians and I’m not just saying that because you’re here. You guys are really just the best kind of people. My kind of people. They have this whole thing that they say all the time. “No worries.” I love that. It’s so like alright, cool. We’re all cool. We’re all ok. We just need to have a beer and just sit back.
Question: Do you mind not being at home?
Mendes: No, I love being away. I love it because you get more caught up in it. You don’t go home and talk to mom and pick up your nephew and be like you know.
Question: How was the Australian crew?
Mendes: Amazing. Russell Boyd was the DP. I think that was his last movie you guys. I think he actually retired, but he did “Master and Commander.” You know Russell Boyd. He’s like a genius.
Question: Did you force him into retirement?
Mendes: Yeah, that’s how bad it got some mornings.
Question: There’s a lot of the biker culture in the movie. Did you get into that?
Mendes: No, no.
Question: Well because you’ve got Peter Fonda in the film.
Mendes: Oh, I have a really cool Peter Fonda story. I never got into motorcycles, but I like guys that dabble. I don’t like guys that totally go out because I would be a freak of a girlfriend. But, I like a little edge. Oh, here’s the great Peter Fonda story. So we’re all hanging out. I didn’t have many scenes with Peter so I didn’t get to really know him that well at the beginning. He was talking about “Easy Rider.” The three of us were hanging out on set. He said something and I stayed quiet. He referenced the movie and I stayed quiet because I was so embarrassed I’d never seen the movie, but I knew it was a huge part of American culture. So I was like, “oh my God, please don’t ask me anything. I’m so embarrassed.” Somehow it came around and a question came up and I said “you know what, I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never seen ‘Easy Rider.'” He looked at me said, “well we’re going to have to change that.” So he planned a very intimate private viewing at Mark’s apartment in Melbourne. There were about eight people there and the movie and Peter himself was sitting there next to me narrating “Easy Rider.” That’s one of those moments in life where your like holy s**t, it’s cool to be an actress right now. Oh my God this is amazing. It was such a moment. We’d look at each other and it was just really cool.
Question: Did you like the movie?
Mendes: I love the movie. He’d literally be pressing day and be like that day, that’s what we were on, on that day and wait until you see this next. It was a piece of American movie history.
Question: Are you signed up for anything else besides what you told us about earlier?
Mendes: Yeah I’ve got a couple things going, but I’m so superstitious. I don’t talk about it until I’m on set. Literally like with my own family I’ll be like, “oh mom I’m going to New York tomorrow to start a movie.” She’s like, “what?” “So yeah if you want to come by and say goodbye, come over I’ll be here packing.” For instance, the trades have reported things out before their time. Things fall apart so much, it just hurts too much to deal with disappointment and I’m just so superstitious.