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Salma Hayek on her on-screen chemistry with Channing Tatum and wild night at a strip show

Salma Hayak is served a six-pack by ‘kindred spirit’ Channing Tatum in Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Now she tells all, to Esther McCarthy

Salma Hayek on the red carpet© ??%_(/O??

Salma Hayek with Channing Tatum in Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Salma and Channing in the movie

Salma and Channing with director Steven Soderbergh© ??  `??_/O??

Salma at the premiere of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with Antonio Banderas© ??  `??_/O??

Salma loved-up with husband Francois-Henri Pinault© ??  `??_/O??

Sunday World

She plays the exotic and wealthy socialite tasked with putting Magic Mike back up on stage, and Salma Hayek says she had a blast sharing a sizzling onscreen chemistry with co-star Channing Tatum.

The Mexican actress busts some sassy moves of her own in the new movie, but in real life had only ever attended one strip show before signing up for the role.

“It was a long time ago when I was living in Mexico City,” Salma recalls. “I had two aunts who came to visit. They were older, very serious women but they came to visit and made me take them out one night to see the Chippendales.

Salma and Channing in the movie

“I think it was actually fake Chippendales but it was that kind of show.

“We went and my two very serious aunts were suddenly like animals! I was actually shocked to see the transformation — I have PTSD from that experience,” she laughs.

“That was the only time I have been to anything like that and I didn’t even dare to watch it myself.”

The star (56) trained hard to get in shape for her role as the flamboyantly named Maxandra Mendoza, a businesswoman so smitten with Mike’s charisma, both on and off the dance floor, that she persuades him to do a live show in London. But there is a steeliness to her ambition — and a vision to her plans for the show.

“It was a lot of dance training. A lot of rehearsing the technical stuff because it was so complicated but then we just went for it and had fun. I felt really proud that I can still do those sensual and technical dance moves,” she says.

Salma and Channing with director Steven Soderbergh© ??  `??_/O??

There’s a sexy lap dance scene between Salma and Channing that has become a big talking point in the movie.

“I loved it. We had so much fun. I have done sensual dance before but nothing ever like that; nothing so empowering to women. We just felt so connected.

“We didn’t stop laughing during rehearsals. I was actually terrified going into it because I really didn’t know if I could do it on a technical level but Channing was amazing. He was so easy and patient and he made me feel very safe.”

Both stars share an on-screen chemistry that’s difficult to plan for, but the actress says it was easy to work on as she and Channing hit it off from the get-go.

Though they’d never met before, they clicked instantly from the first meeting — with director Steven Soderbergh — when she invited them to her home to discuss the project. Both actors got to collaborate with the filmmaker, writers, choreographers and dancers through rehearsals and filming.

Salma at the premiere of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with Antonio Banderas© ??  `??_/O??

“It’s just something that is there or it isn’t. We got lucky. The important thing was that we trusted each other from the very beginning and then everything just worked between us after that.

“I really do feel like he’s my kindred spirit because, like me, he’s had this very good career but he’s still had these moments through being sensual in dance that he’s been kind of objectified. We connected a lot through talking about experiences like that.

“Obviously, Channing is a producer on this too, so we got to work together a lot on Max and to create a really interesting dynamic between our two characters.

“She is a socialite who, like Mike, finds herself trying to navigate a difficult moment in her life. Her husband cheated on her and she’s heading for a divorce. Then everything changes when she meets Mike, who is working the bar at one of her galas.

Salma loved-up with husband Francois-Henri Pinault© ??  `??_/O??

“She hears from someone else how he used to be this hot dancer, so she asks him for a private dance. It’s not something she would normally do but that’s when something magic happens. And it reveals something about herself that she had long forgotten.

“It’s really a story about following your dreams and being true to yourself when the chance comes — and that is what Max does in taking Mike to London.”

Like many of the characters she tends to play, Salma enjoyed that Max is a strong character with her own views and principles. What did she most like about her?

“The fact that she is so strong, even while she is going through something so difficult. I love that she is creative and courageous in wanting to use this new moment in her life to show who she really is and what she is about,” she explains.

In real life, Salma is happily married to French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, who she wed in 2009 before later renewing their vows at a party with family and friends. In previous interviews, she has spoken about being reluctant to marry the man she loved in case it would change the dynamic of their relationship.

Salma Hayek with Channing Tatum in Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Her career has continued to blossom ever since she first started taking on TV roles in her native Mexico, where she began by working on a soap opera.

It wasn’t long before Hollywood started taking notice, and Salma broke into an English-language career with movies like Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and opposite Will Smith in the comedy western Wild Wild West. Her performance as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo inFrida also grabbed her an Oscar nomination.

In more recent years, she has taken further control over her career by producing as well as acting in action-centred movies like Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and opposite Penelope Cruz in Bandidas.

We’ve also seen her star opposite our own Barry Keoghan in the Marvel blockbuster Eternals, and as well as Magic Mikeshe’s currently lending her voice to the animated hit Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Though her numerous TV interviews show her to be a witty and fun guest, she admits she did briefly wonder if Magic Mike was for her before reading the script.

“I must admit, I did have some pre-conceived ideas about what the movie was going to be but then I read the script and met the dancers, and I realised it’s a lot more than that,” says the mum and stepmum.

“Magic Mike is not about strippers. It’s about dancers and their art. Getting to work with the dancers on this was incredible. I fell in love with all of them. They were lovely people and working with them changed my mind about a lot of things.”

Now Salma, who has always loved taking to the dancefloor, is determined to hold onto the sultry new moves she learned working on the movie.

“Oh, I dance all the time at home anyway,” she smiles. “Dance to me is like therapy — it always has been. I’ll dance if nobody’s watching, just for me.”

  • Magic Mike’s Last Dance is in cinemas now

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