Archive for November, 2007

Eva Mendes “We Own the Night” Interview

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Eva Mendes We Own the Night 


When “We Own the Night” came out, Eva Mendes did a ton of interviews, this one from Brigid Brown at was my favorite. 

Eva Mendes is the type of actress you see on screen and you think to yourself, “”She’s totally beautiful, yet she’s that kind of clever, easygoing girl you’d want as a friend.”" It turns out … she is! Eva has the striking looks you’d expect from young Hollywood, but a genial approachability that puts people at ease. Apparently she made a similar first impression on We Own the Night director James Gray, resulting in him casting her, after seeing her for a mere few minutes on a talk show.

What Gray saw in Mendes was a sensitivity and self-awareness–both ideal qualities for the role of Amada, which she plays opposite Joaquin Phoenix’s volatile Bobby Green, a suspect Brighton Beach club owner. As Bobby’s loyal girlfriend, Amanda is unprepared for the deep sacrifices she will have to make in order to maintain their relationship.

Eva stands alone, but stands tall, as the only female in an all-male cast in We Own the Night, a family crime thriller set in 1980s New York costarring Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall as two decorated NYPD cops who turn to the black sheep of their family, Bobby, for help.

Taking on this pivotal role, Mendes has successfully side-stepped her self-predicted fate of being slotted for “”cheesy, horror films.”" sat down with Eva for some girl talk, and here’s what she had to say: James Gray said he cast you after seeing you in an interview.

HW: But you initially said no to this script.

Eva: James Gray sent me the script and I said no for a year. I thought it was a great script, yet I thought the character [Amanda] needed work. She was a little victim-y and a kind of a “”girlfriend”" role–and I don’t want to play a girlfriend role. He was so great because he was like, “”I totally understand what you’re saying, I’ll work on it, and we’ll work on it together.”" He kept in touch throughout the year, and then a year later he gave me a script and it was better.

HW: Such determination!

Eva: I just loved his tenacity. He said you’ve gotta do this movie, there’s nobody else, it’s you and Joaquin [Phoenix]. And I said, “”OK, you know what, I like this guy. I like that he feels this way about me.”" It doesn’t happen that often when people fight for you and really want you even when you don’t want them. So I did it and I’ve got to tell you, it was the best experience I’ve had in my career. It was literally the best experience.

HW: Needless to say, you’re happy you stuck with James on this?

Eva: That really sparked me and ignited me–just being so in it and going to a darker place and being so vulnerable. I really just enjoyed this experience so wholeheartedly.

HW: Your character plays such a pivotal role in the film. What did you do to add depth to the character?

Eva: Joaquin and I, we were like, it’s not about the lines here, it’s about how we interact with each other, what we do between the lines, and how we react to one another. You’ve got to feel like these people are really in love. It’s not just some girlfriend that you have for six months.

HW: How easy or difficult was it for you to work on your relationship with Joaquin? In an earlier interview he said he was shy.

Eva: He said he was shy? He just did a cha-cha dance on the Today Show this morning! He’s hysterical. He kind of is shy in a weird way. He’s beautiful because he doesn’t walk into a room–he’s not one of those guys like, ‘Hey, hey, what’s going on.’ He’s quiet and subtle, but he has that crazy energy that I have as well.

HW: Some actresses shy away from being cast in ethnic roles, in this case it’s playing Puerto Rican. Is this a concern for you at all?

Eva: No. everything and anything for me it’s about the material and about the role and about the people I’m working opposite. Even if you have a great script, but you’re working opposite some rinky-dink actor, you’re only going to be as good as him.

HW: Do you find it hard to find substantial roles?

Eva: Absolutely. A lot of times people ask me, oh the lack of roles for Latina actresses in Hollywood, and absolutely. But let’s just start with this: there’s a lack of roles for women. I guess that’s why a lot of women actresses turn to producing, because that’s one way we can not sit home and just complain about it with our girlfriends. We can go out there and be proactive about it.

HW: What’s next for you?

Eva: I just finished something called The Women. It’s really cool–it’s a remake of a George Cukor film, all women in the cast. I did the Joan Crawford role, so I’m going to get a lot of crap for that one when that comes out. In no way did I try to be her, or mimic what she did. It’s a modern take on The Women. It’s awesome! It’s me, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler–really fun.

HW: What was it like working with such talented actresses in The Women?

Eva: It was really cool. I’ve got to tell you the funny part. I do We Own the Night and I’m pretty much the only girl in the movie. I go every day and there’s guy–I’m not complaining, I got Phoenix and Wahlberg there and Duvall … I went to rehearsals and I didn’t really care, I didn’t look like a slob, but I would just go in my sweats and whatever, my little cap. Cut to: rehearsals for The Women. There’s all chicks, right? Everybody’s looking fine! We have our cutest little sundresses on; we have our little jewelry. The whole first 15 minutes of our rehearsal session, I was like, ‘Jada! Where’d you get that scarf?’ and ‘Annette, where’d you get that necklace?’ It was so hysterical. Another confirmation that we dress for each other. We really do. But we were also there for each other.

HW: Speaking of appearances, I love the part in the film where Joaquin and Mark fight, and Joaquin barks, “”Look at your ugly wife and my beautiful girlfriend!”"

Eva: That’s a crazy line! You know why? When he said that, I was like, “”Oooh!”" Because that’s real, when two brothers go at it and you get to that ugly place–and you call each other out on that ugly that you would never say. That just reminded me of home. When you fight with your siblings and you go for the jugular. I just thought Joaquin and Mark were great in that scene. I was like, I don’t want to see that, that’s like my family or something.

HW: Amanda is such a powerful role. Where did you find your motivation to play her?

Eva: It’s just about the people you work with and trusting them so you’re totally open and available, emotionally open and vulnerable. Again, with a co-star like Joaquin, he made me feel safe every day. But he would push me at the same time. Him and James, they knew they could push me, and they would push me, but it was like being pushed, but knowing there’s a safety net. It’s why we love our friends so much, because they’re there for us, and they’ve got our backs. When that happens in work–and you can find that–it’s invaluable.


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