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The Transformation Of Salma Hayek From Childhood To Marvel's Eternals

Thanks to her age-defying visage, it's hard to believe that Oscar-nominated actor Salma Hayek was once a new kid on the block in Hollywood in the mid-1990s. Now, with more than 80 film and television roles under her belt, Hayek's path has led her to the superhero realm under the auspices of Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao for Marvel's "Eternals." Born the daughter of a Spanish mother and Lebanese father on September 2, 1966, in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, Hayek enrolled in a Catholic school at age 12 in Louisiana (via Biography). Following high school, Hayek went on to pursue a degree in international relations in Mexico (via Britannica).

Eventually, Hayek — who said in a 1996 interview while promoting her film "Fled" that she "always wanted to be an actress" — made her move from college to television in Mexico, and eventually to films in Hollywood. Tinseltown, surprisingly, wasn't quite the place she anticipated. "The Hollywood that I've heard was like old movies with a lot of glamour that we don't do anymore ... [but] it's a street in Los Angeles where drunks spit on the floor and there's a lot of punks," Hayek said, bluntly. "So, I didn't think of Hollywood [in the] sense of this nostalgic thing of the old Hollywood and the glamour of it. I just wanted to do films and I'm doing them, so I got what I was expecting."

Thankfully, the expectations fans have of Hayek have continually been met since the beginning of her career, and her acting has produced quite a highlight reel.

Salma Hayek's screen debut came in a pair of telenovelas in Mexico

According to Britannica, Salma Hayek was discovered by television producers during her college studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Her screen debut came soon after in 1988 when Hayek, in her early 20s, starred opposite Daniela Castro in the Mexican telenovela "Un Nuevo Amanecer," which is akin to soap operas in America. After two seasons on this series, Hayek was then cast in the title role of another telenovela, "Teresa," in 1989.

Hayek moved to Hollywood in 1991 and transitioned to American television when she landed a guest role in 1992 in the police procedural "Street Justice," starring Carl Weathers. Hayek also appeared in guest turns on the sitcoms "Dream On" and "Nurses" in 1992, and the following year she did guest stints in the drama "Jack's Place," as well as the comedy series "The Sinbad Show."

Hollywood took notice of Hayek in Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn

Salma Hayek's big break in Hollywood came with her casting by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez in the 1995 crime thriller "Desperado," in which she stars as a small-town bookstore owner named Carolina, opposite Antonio Banderas as the gunslinging-slash-guitar playing El Mariachi. Clearly Rodriguez was impressed with the rising star, as she went on to star in several of the director's films, including the 1996 horror thriller "From Dusk Till Dawn," the 1998 sci-fi thriller "The Faculty," and the 2003 family adventure film "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over."

Also in 2003, Hayek reteamed with Banderas for Rodriguez's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," which is a bookend film in a way for the frequent collaborators, since it is a sequel to "Desperado." Adding an important chapter to "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" was Johnny Depp, who plays an aloof CIA agent named Sheldon Jeffrey Sands in the film.

She earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for playing Frida Kahlo

Salma Hayek took her acting chops to the next level in 2002 when famed "Lion King" Broadway director Julie Taymor cast her in the titular role in "Frida," the biopic about legendary artist Frida Kahlo. The film finally put Hayek squarely atop the A-list in Hollywood after she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance in the film. Hayek was widely honored by other awards bodies in 2002 and 2003, earning Best Actress nominations from the likes of the Screen Actors Guild, the BAFTAs, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (via IMDb).

Much like her allegiance to Rodriguez, Hayek formed a kinship with Taymor, and she later appeared in a trippy scene in the director's Beatles-themed musical "Across the Universe" in 2007. Set to the tune of the Fab Four's "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," Hayek's nurse character appears in multiples, adding to the dizzying effect of the sequence.

Ugly Betty and the Hitman films showed a different side of the actress

Salma Hayek began showing her gift for making people laugh with the ABC comedy-drama "Ugly Betty," in which she appears in a recurring role of book author Sofia Reyes in 2006 and 2007. Using her growing showbiz clout, Hayek's main function on "Ugly Betty" was an executive producer, a title she held for the entire series run from 2006 to 2010.

It wasn't until 2017, though, when Hayek took her comedic prowess to the extreme as Sonia Kincaid, the incarcerated, F-bomb slinging wife of hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) in the Ryan Reynolds action comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard." Apparently, Hayek made such a huge impression on audiences and director Patrick Hughes that the title to the sequel was slightly reworked to reflect her larger role in "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" in the summer of 2021.

While the sequel's pandemic-hampered $70 global take (via Box Office Mojo) was no match for the 2017 original's $176.6 worldwide tally, there were no shortages of Hayek F-bombs (and variations thereof) for theater audiences. A personal bonus for Hayek in the "Hitman" sequel was that it reunited the actor with her "Desperado" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" costar Antonio Banderas.

Hayek soars into the superhero stratosphere in Eternals

Showing no limitations to her capabilities as an actor, Salma Hayek is tackling one of her most ambitious roles to date on November 5, 2021, in Marvel's "Eternals," directed by "Nomadland" Oscar winner Chloé Zhao. As part of a star-studded ensemble including Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, and Richard Madden, Hayek plays the pivotal role of Ajak, the spiritual leader of the Eternals, which is a race of immortal aliens who have successfully hidden themselves among the human race for 7,000 years.

While Hayek is primed to make a huge splash in "Eternals," she has another high-profile role to wrap up 2021 in director Ridley Scott's biographical crime drama "House of Gucci." According to Deadline, Hayek stars in the upcoming movie as infamous clairvoyant Giuseppina Auriemma, who is a friend of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). "House of Gucci" also stars Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Al Pacino.