Salma Hayek: clawless and lawless in "Puss in Boots"

LOS ANGELES Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:34am EDT

Cast members Antonio Banderas (R) and Salma Hayek pose with characters at the premiere of the animated film ''Puss In Boots'' in Los Angeles October 23, 2011. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Cast members Antonio Banderas (R) and Salma Hayek pose with characters at the premiere of the animated film ''Puss In Boots'' in Los Angeles October 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Phil McCarten

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Salma Hayek has been many things: movie star, director, producer, wife and mother. On Friday, she adds clawless and lawless to that list as the fierce, female heroine Kitty Softpaws in new animated film, "Puss in Boots."

The movie stars Antonio Banderas as the swashbuckling cat Puss with the sexy voice and keen ability to make sad eyes who was first introduced to movie fans in 2004's "Shrek 2."

In this spinoff, Puss teams with Kitty Softpaws, a declawed cat thief, and Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifiankis) to thwart the evil efforts of Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) who are looking to plant magic beans and steal a Golden Goose.

Reuters sat down with the 45-years-young Hayek over a carton of jellybeans to talk about her first foray into animation, her 4-year-old daughter Valentina with French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault and what life is like as a mom living in Paris.

Q: How was your first time doing an animated movie?

A: "It was incredible! You don't have to wake up two hours earlier than everyone else because you're a girl and your hair and make-up takes longer to do. You don't have to figure out what to wear. You don't have to look good. You don't have to be on a diet. You just go and do it. That was so liberating!"

Q: Did you create a specific voice for the role?

A: "No. I was intending to use my voice because my accent is a little bit like a cartoon already!"

Q: Usually in animation, each person records their voice separately but you and Antonio worked together. Why?

A: "So when Antonio improvises something, I can actually defend myself! And whatever comment I make, he can top it. It's very alive and fresh."

Q: Your daughter must think you're so cool!

A: "Now I've made it in her eyes. She's so proud of me. I get almost emotional when I see her take the (cat) doll and anybody that walks into the house she says: 'This is my mom. My mom made this character, Kitty Softpaws, and she's the voice and she made her so great!'"

Q: So your daughter understands the tricks of moviemaking?

A: "She understands now, but before she did not and it was a bit like explaining the whole Santa thing. ... When she was two, she wanted to meet Dora (the Explorer) and Boots (her sidekick monkey). When I brought her (the costumed actors dressed up as) Dora and Boots, she came to me and said in my ear: 'Mom, that is not Dora. And that's definitely not a monkey. That's a stuffed animal. They lied to you.' And I'm like, 'How come it works for all the other mothers?'"

Q: You haven't worked much since giving birth, beyond last year's Adam Sandler film, "Grown-Ups."

A: "Yes, and even after that, I didn't work for a year. I'll work if something comes along, but you get more picky in the things you choose because you're having such a good time being a mom. And I was really busy launching a beauty line, Nuance. It was so much work."

Q: But now you have four movies coming out after this.

A: "I did a Spanish film ('The Spark of Life') a French film ('Americano') a comedy with Kevin James ('Here Comes the Boom') and a movie with Oliver Stone called 'Savages.' I never want to work like I worked this past year again!"

Q: I thought you were enjoying motherhood!

A: "The beauty line was supposed to come out before I did the movies, but that didn't happen. Three of the films were supposed to go last year but got pushed to this year. When I finished them I said, 'OK, I am done.' But then Oliver Stone offered me this once in a lifetime role playing the queen of the drug cartels. How do you say 'no' to that?"

Q: Now, your home base in Paris and you're working in European cinema like 'Americano.' Do you miss the U.S.?

A: "Sometimes I do, but I'm very happy being there. My husband is great and it's good for my daughter. Once you create a family, you feel that home is where your family is."

Q: Your husband's company owns luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. Does that mean you get all the designer clothing and handbags you want?

A: "(Laughs) Yes, I do, but my friends are more happy about that than me. That's their thing. They actually make fun of me and say, 'How did you -- the least fashionista out of all of us -- land that guy?' But it was not about that. The thing that excited me most about him is he has a soccer team. When I found that out, I was like, 'Okay, now you're cool.' That's what did it for me.'

Q: Does Valentina display a penchant for acting? Fashion?

A: "I wish I could tell you different, but she loves to act, to sing, to dance, to dress up, to direct. She totally understands the dynamic of a set. When we were shooting 'Here Comes the Boom,' a couple of times the director even let her say 'action.' She was not embarrassed and takes it very seriously. She sits in front of the monitor to watch take after take. She's very interested."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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