Salma Hayek has said she wanted to put a woman facing menopause at the centre of an action comedy because “the stigma that is maybe the slowest one to change is the discrimination of age”.
The actress, 54, reprises her role as international con artist Sonia Kincaid in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a sequel to the 2017 film The Hitman’s Bodyguard, in which she had a two-minute cameo.
The follow-up brings her character to the centre of the frame, as she stars opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson.
Hayek, who was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the artist Frida Kahlo in Frida, told the PA news agency: “There were all these things that I did in my career where I was the favourite character or one of the favourite characters and I never had a call back, not just for another film, but not even the studio would call me for another movie.
“They would call me, super-shocked, and say, ‘Oh, my God, they loved you’, but then they wouldn’t offer me anything.
“So when the first the movie came out, they told me ‘Oh, my God, they loved you’. And even my manager said, ‘Yeah, we get that all the time, it makes no difference’. And all of a sudden, here we are.”
She added: “I do think women are valued in a different way now than they were before.
“I was very lucky to have a director that really did something about it, that went with it. And I was also extra lucky because I was included in the process of the second movie and I thought that was very generous, but also very smart, because the problem with action films is it’s mostly men who do them.
“And for the first film, I was invited to participate in the creation of the character and now I was also invited to participate in the creation of the character in her involvement in that universe. And I was heard.
I think we managed to do a character that, even though she is an action character, she’s still very much a woman. It’s not like a woman trying to be a man, she isn’t trying to be a man at allSalma Hayek
“Of course there were some things that they were like, ‘Really? Are you sure we should go in this direction? It’s an action comedy, is dealing with menopause something that people are going to find funny or interesting?’
“But they listened. They went with it and I think we managed to do a character that, even though she is an action character, she’s still very much a woman. It’s not like a woman trying to be a man, she isn’t trying to be a man at all.”
Discussing the unusual prospect of including a woman facing menopause in this genre of film, she said: “I think it’s going to be really liberating because out of all the changes we have accomplished for women, the stigma that is maybe the slowest one to change is the discrimination of age.
“And so as an homage to that, my character goes ballistic every time somebody is disrespectful about it. That is like a freedom, because sometimes we’re not on top of it, but we’re not allowed to get angry about it, but Sonia is.”
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is in cinemas from June 18.