Salma Hayek signed up for new comedy Here Comes the Boom without even seeing a script. After meeting Kevin James, the writer and actor behind brash comedies such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper, on the set of Grown Up in 2010, the former Oscar nominee was ready for whatever the boisterous personality had in mind next. And what he thought up was Here Comes the Boom, a silly story about a chemistry teacher in a cash-strapped school who chooses to get into the ring as a pro martial arts fighter to raise money for the kids. We got the story from the 46-year-old star of Frida, Desperado and Cat in Boots.
How did you and Kevin James get together on this project?
On Grown Ups he was my neighbour. The two families, my husband, his wife, and our kids are the same age. He was living next door to me throughout the whole movie and I really found him to be quite an amazing man. His talent shocked me. He is so good with physical comedy – very clever, very fast. We were very funny together off screen because we don’t have any scenes together on Grown Ups. Then later we were doing the commentary about what was going on, and I said, ‘You know, we’ll have to do a movie together properly,’ and he said, ‘You’re absolutely right. You will be in my next movie. We’ve got to find something,’ and he did. He called me and he said, ‘I’m doing this film [Here Comes the Boom] and I’m writing you a part. Are you still up for it?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’
You said yes without even knowing what the film was?
I didn’t know what it was going to be and it didn’t matter. I was just going to do it and I tell you why: I love comedy and I love improvising, and it’s such a pleasure to find someone you can play with who is so good at improvising.
How would you describe the tone and comedy in the movie?
I was surprised with the film because I was nervous at the beginning. It mixes so many things. I knew from the start it was going to be a big disaster or a very interesting comedy, and I think it’s a very interesting comedy that’s different. It doesn’t look like the other ones.
At the start of the film your character, Bella, is unobtainable for Kevin’s character Scott. How and why does that change?
At the beginning of the film Bella thinks that he’s a joke and a total loser, somebody who just has apathy for everything he does, including picking me up, even though he is consistent and insistent in the way he does it. I don’t think much of him and I’m probably right. But he changes and he teaches me something because even though I do things right, I do it from a very safe place.
You do some fun fighting with Kevin in the movie. Did you pick up a few fight moves?
No. The truth is the fight I did with him was a couple of weeks of [messing] about and we broke a lot of things! And we had to improvise along the way. I had a lot of bruising the next day and that was the fun of it. But in the middle of some of Kevin’s fights I had to be in the background – I was hanging out with the fighters and they did teach me a couple of moves. It wasn’t anything I used in the film. It was just for fun.
What was the epiphany moment all those years ago that first turned you onto acting?
It was seeing Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. When I was a child I saw it and realised: Wow! Here’s a place where you can do anything. The river was becoming chocolate, and I thought that anything in your imagination can be true and you can be anybody. That was the moment.
Here Comes the Boom is in UAE cinemas now.