When it comes to discussing the best action movies of the 1990s, Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado often gets unfairly overlooked. A loose update of his micro budget debut feature El Mariachi, which the filmmaker shot for just over $7000, Antonio Banderas replaced Carlos Gallardo in the lead role, with Salma Hayek also making her first appearance in a Hollywood feature.
Rodriguez was handed a budget 1000 times bigger to craft his rookie studio project, although even by the standards of the time, $7 million was small change when it came to delivering an action-packed adventure. Desperado would go on to earn over $25 million at the box office, though, and receive solid reviews for the charismatic performances of the two leads, as well as the succession of stylish set pieces, while it was instrumental in continuing the rise up the industry ladder for Rodriguez, Banderas and Hayek.
In a recent interview, the latter spoke a bit about her experience and revealed that she found the filming of her love scene opposite Banderas to be traumatic, although she was quick to point out that it had nothing to do with either her co-star or director.
“We were going to start shooting, I started to sob. I don’t know that I can do it. I’m afraid. One of the things I was afraid of was Antonio, he was an absolute gentleman and so nice, and we’re still super close friends, but he was very free. It scared me that for him, it was like nothing. I started crying, and he was like, ‘Oh my God. You’re making me feel terrible’. And I was so embarrassed that I was crying. But we got through it. We did the best with what we could do at the time.
When you’re not you, then you can do it. But I keep thinking of my father and my brother. And are they going to see it? And are they going to get teased? Guys don’t have that. Your father will be, ‘Yeah! That’s my son!’. I walked out of the premiere when they played it and I took my brother, father, and mother with me. I didn’t want any of them to see it. They were happy to walk out right away and then we came back again. I don’t think they noticed anything.”
There’s been a lot more focus placed on how major productions handle their sex scenes these days thanks in part to the #MeToo movement, with most sets having an intimacy coordinator available to make sure the talent are comfortable with the content. That was hardly the case a quarter of a century ago on a relatively cheap B-level actioner like Desperado, but Hayek reaffirmed that her discomfort with shooting was down to her own inexperience and nerves, and she never faced any pressure whatsoever from Rodriguez or Banderas to do anything she wasn’t comfortable with. In fact, the trio remain great friends to this day.