No Mexican actress in the late-20th and early-21st century can boast the career of one Ms Salma Hayek. Equally at home in Robert Rodriguez flicks where she shoots up a storm as in quiet character-driven indies, the Mexican actress has built a career for herself that’s earned her an Oscar nomination, a Daytime Emmy award, and several MTV Movie Awards in the process. That she also managed to use her stardom to advance social and political causes — not without stumbling on issues every once in a while — has made her an enduring presence on screens both big and small.
While you’d be able to spends days and days on end going through her full filmography — which includes collaborations with Antonio Banderas, Demián Bichir, Benicio Del Toro, Penelope Cruz, Will Smith, and Adam Sandler — we’ve singled out five performances that show her full range. Moreover, these are all available to stream from the comfort of your home. So whether you want to see Hayek transform into a Mexican icon or fall in love with a beloved sitcom superstar, check out five of Salma’s best and most well-known roles below.
Beatriz at Dinner
Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a miracle worker—highly sensitive with her touch, and passionately dedicated to curing pain through holistic therapy. After treating the mother of a young woman Beatriz helped recover from chemotherapy, her car breaks down, so she is invited to stay for a dinner celebrating a lucrative business deal. An interloper inside this private enclave of the have-mores, Beatriz is politely acknowledged by the guests, with the exception of Doug, a mega brazen and successful business developer. Believing she knows him from somewhere, Beatriz becomes increasingly unsettled. Uninhibited, she questions whether Doug’s accomplishments have come at the expense of other people’s suffering—to the chagrin of the sycophantic hosts—pitting the guests into opposing forces. Beatriz at Dinner is riveting, yet with an apprehensive tone. Half chamber drama, half dark dramedy of errors, Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta discerns his characters by showing their most telling reactions, such as the subliminal determination of Hayek’s face, while spinning an indelible wickedness onto this tale of a fateful encounter
A passion project of its star Salma Hayek, Frida finally brought to the big screen the life story of one of Mexico’s most well-known artists, Frida Kahlo. Directed by Julie Taymor with artistic flourishes that bring Frida’s colorful creations to life in painterly scenes that depict everything from Frida’s life-altering accident to her turbulent romance with muralist Diego Rivera. Featuring Hayek’s Oscar-nominated performance as well as Oscar-winning makeup that transformed the famed Mexican actress into the unibrow icon, Frida is a love letter to Kahlo’s life and work.
In the Time of the Butterflies
This Showtime TV movie is an adaptation of Julia Álvarez’s book of the same name. In the Time of the Butterflies is a fictionalized account for the lives of the Mirabal sisters, Dominican revolutionary activists, who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and were assassinated on November 25, 1960. With an A-list cast that includes Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Demián Bichir, and Marc Anthony among others, the film is a portrait of the DR under Trujillo’s terror regime.
Fools Rush In
A quintessential 90s rom-com, Fools Rush In is that rare film that grapples with bicultural identity and cross-cultural romance. Matthew Perry, of Friends fame, plays strait-laced Alex, an architect who’s relocated from New York to Las Vegas where he falls for Isabel (Salma Hayek) a free-spirited Mexican-American photographer. Except, after their steamy one-night stand, they realize they’re not quite a good fit. That all changes when months later Isabel realizes she’s pregnant and they decide to take a go about pursuing a relationship to raise their kid together — though that’ll require needing to figure out how to get over their cultural differences.
There was no club quite like Studio 54 in New York City in the 70s. There were drugs, there was dancing, there was disco. Telling a fictionalized story about the famed club, 54 follows Shane O’Shea (Ryan Philippe), a young Jersey City man in the who’s handsome enough to become a bartender at the club. There he befriends aspiring singer Anita (Salma Hayek) and her husband, Greg Randazzo (Breckin Meyer). Shane gets sucked into the hard-partying scene at Studio 54. As his life spirals downward, so does the club.