Salma Hayek’s Great Performances, Ranked

Salma Hayek Pinault has a significant role in the premiere episode of Black Mirror’s Season 6. In the series’ usual uncanny, thought-provoking style, she plays a version of herself who is, in turn, playing another character. Her performance in the episode has been praised by fans as both hilarious and compelling.

This role is only the latest in a career that has spanned over three decades since Hayek Pinault got her start in Mexican telenovelas in the late ’80s. She has played many different characters in films that have garnered both audience and critical acclaim, making her an icon and one of the most recognizable Latina actresses in the world.

10 Sonia Kincaid in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Salma Hayek Pinault plays con artist Sonia, the titular wife to Samuel L. Jackson in the action-comedy Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. The film is a sequel to the earlier The Hitman’s Bodyguard, where Hayek Pinault played a supporting role. This time, she’s back as one of the leads, alongside Jackson and Ryan Reynolds.

In addition to a larger role, she had more creative freedom in this movie. She contributed her own ideas to the development of the character, including the decision to make her menopausal as a way to represent older women in action films better. It’s a fun, charming performance that enlivens an otherwise generally unfavorably received, underwhelming film.

9 Kitty Softpaws in Puss in Boots

The role of Kitty in Puss in Boots marks Salma Hayek Pinault’s first incursion in voice acting, to which she has returned a few times since in her career. The film, a spin-off to the Shrek series, stars Antonio Banderas as the titular character, following his adventures before his appearance in the main series.

Hayek Pinault gives voice to Kitty Softpaws, a cat thief who develops a relationship with Puss. Her performance as the clever, talented thief showed another facet of her talents, and she returned to reprise the role in the sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

8 Martha Beck in Lonely Hearts

Lonely Hearts is a neo-noir thriller based on the true story of the Lonely Hearts Killers a couple responsible for a string of murders in the late 1940s. Salma Hayek Pinault stars as one half of the duo opposite Jared Leto, and the main cast is rounded out by John Travolta and James Gandolfini, who play the detectives tracking them down.

Despite the film having received overall mixed to negative reviews, Hayek Pinault delivered a bone-chilling performance as serial killer and mastermind Martha Beck and was widely praised as one of the stand-outs of the feature. Her chemistry with Leto has also been noted as a highlight of the film, adding an extra layer of depth to the story.

7 Minerva Mirabal in In the Time of the Butterflies

In the Time of the Butterflies tells a fictionalized version of the real-life story of the Mirabal sisters, revolutionary activists who opposed the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. The film, based on a novel by the same name written by Julia Alvarez, follows the sisters until their assassination in 1960.

Salma Hayek Pinault plays the lead role of Minerva, strongly portraying the struggles and convictions of her life, both personally and as an activist, and how the two interconnect. It is another role where she demonstrates the range of her acting and her ability to take on complex roles.

6 Isabel Fuentes in Fools Rush In

In the 1997 romantic comedy Fools Rush In, another of Salma Hayek Pinault’s early films, her character Isabel and Alex portrayed by Matthew Perry have a one-night stand that results in pregnancy, eventually leading to more. The film was directed by Andy Tennant, and it hits all the beats of classic .

While the film itself was not generally considered very memorable, Hayek Pinault’s funny, energetic performance as Isabel certainly was. It put her comedic skills on display and showed off the variety of roles she could play.

5 Carolina in Desperado

Salma Hayek Pinault’s Hollywood debut was as Carolina in Desperado. The film, directed by Robert Rodriguez, follows El Mariachi Antonio Banderas as he seeks revenge on a local drug lord who previously killed his lover. Carolina is the owner of a bookstore and El Mariachi’s love interest in the film.

Desperado is the middle film in Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy, preceded by El Mariachi and followed by Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Hayek Pinault reprises her part in the third film, but it was her performance in Desperado that garnered attention and introduced her to a wider film audience, becoming her breakout role. She has been a star ever since.

4 Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn is a cult horror film that spawned an entire media franchise around it, consisting of three movies. A videogame, and a TV series. The action- and gore-heavy film follows two criminal brothers. Played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, who find themselves stranded in a saloon filled with vampires.

Salma Hayek Pinault has a brief but memorable role as the vampire queen of the saloon, Santanico Pandemonium. And many remember her mesmerizing introductory scene where she dances with a snake. Although Hayek Pinault felt the role led to her being typecast in the years that followed, it remains iconic.

3 The Queen of Longtrellis in Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales is an Italian dark fantasy/horror film based on a collection of 17th-century fairy tales by Giambattista Basile. It follows three distinct storylines, telling the stories and vicissitudes that surround three kingdoms and their rulers.

Salma Hayek Pinault plays the Queen of Longtrellis, who, along with her husband played by John C. Reilly seek advice from a necromancer in the hopes of having children. Though generally overlooked by audiences, it is one of Hayek Pinault’s most critically acclaimed films. And her performance as the sorrowful, desperate Queen is certainly a powerful one.

2 Beatriz in Beatriz at Dinner

Filled with social commentary. Beatriz at Dinner is a drama film where a holistic healer. Played by Salma Hayek Pinault, finds herself stranded at a dinner party hosted by one of her wealthy clients. The film follows the increase in tension that ensues.

The titular role of Beatriz was specifically written for Hayek Pinault by screenwriter Mike White. And she succeeded in delivering a near-universally praised, memorable performance, considered by some as a career-best. This role shows off her layered, subtle acting that strays far from the roles she is typically cast in.

1 Frida Kahlo in Frida

Directed by Julie Taymor, Frida is an amazing biopic depicting the life of 20th-century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Portrayed here by Salma Hayek Pinault. The film was her own passion project; she not only starred in it. But also produced it through the production company she created.

It is widely considered to be her best role. Bringing to life both the professional and the private aspects of Kahlo’s life in a moving performance. That portrays her struggles and triumphs as an artist. As well as her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera Alfred Molina. The movie also explores Kahlo’s political activism and her struggles with chronic pain and health issues. Frida earned Hayek Pinault an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Making her the first Mexican actress to be nominated for the award.

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