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Why Salma Hayek Almost Didn't Star In From Dusk Till Dawn

It's nearly impossible to remember the 1996 action horror movie "From Dusk Till Dawn" without thinking of Salma Hayek dancing with an ablino Burmese python in a satanic dive bar. It's such an iconic performance, the YouTube video of the dance alone boasts over 10 million views — but the truth is this scene almost never happened. 

Five years before Britney Spears would dance with a Burmese python of her own for her 2001 MTV VMA performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U," Hayek was cast as the dancer Santanico Pandemonium for "From Dusk Till Dawn" in a rather unconventional way. She told Yahoo! News that she had done a favor for director Robert Rodriguez during the filming of the 1995 anthology film "Four Rooms," dancing in a bathing suit for one of the scenes, and once Quentin Tarantino saw her performance, he decided to write her into "From Dusk Till Dawn," his and Rodriguez's next collaboration.

But when Tarantino told Hayek about the specifics of the scene, she had second thoughts about the role. 

Salma Hayek overcame her 'greatest fear' for her role in From Dusk till Dawn

Salma Hayek keeps certain aspects of her life private, but the star revealed to Yahoo! News that snakes were her "greatest fear." Speaking with E!'s Justin Sylvester, Hayek further revealed that when she took the role, there was no snake in the script — that was a choice she claimed "Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino" made after-the-fact. This bait-and-switch ultimately produced cinematic gold, but Hayek had to overcome her ophidiophobia to get through the scene.

Had Salma Hayek not overcome her phobia of snakes, another actress would have taken the part, or at least that's what Hayek said Tarantino told her. Hayek alleged that the legendary director said Madonna was interested in playing Santanico Pandemonium, snake and all, and so, not wanting to lose the role, Hayek hung in there, and even improvised the entire dance. 

So how did Hayek get over her fear of snakes to make it through the scene? Hayek told E!, "In some culture, the snake represented — I started doing research — your inner power... and my whole thing that I brainwashed myself into doing this was about dancing with my own inner power." This brainwashing was so successful that Hayek told Yahoo! News she had only vague memories of filming "From Dusk Till Dawn," because of the "trance" she was in.

Sometimes the most mundane of situations can stimulate immense personal growth. Now, Hayek tackles large scale, genre-spanning fare, including Marvel's "Eternals" and Amazon's "Bliss," but in 1996, she was not yet the mega-star she is today. Ultimately though, the star overcame her ophidiophobia because, as she told E!, "Frankly, I really needed to pay the rent."