Eva Mendes embraces dowdy look in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Eva Mendes. (C.Smith/WENN.com)
NEW YORK -- For Eva Mendes, the very best thing about her role in The Place Beyond The Pines was that she got to look downmarket. Worn-out. Haggard.
Well, to the extent that she can look any of those things.
"That was my favourite part," says the actress. "I know my work doesn't reflect this but I promise you you'll see more of it, I hope, in future. Any time I get to play a character and change the way I look, that's what satisfies me."
Mendes, 39, stars in The Place Beyond The Pines as Romina, a woman in Schenectady who wins the heart of a travelling motorcycle stunt driver (Ryan Gosling). The movie opens Friday. The story covers about 18 years of bad road, and Mendes ages appropriately. She got the role after an unusual audition -- she drove around L.A. with director Derek Cianfrance and showed him the city as she knew it, including her childhood home and all the places where she grew up.
"I had heard he wasn't sure about me in this role. I had this kind of, very peaceful feeling, because I knew it was mine. There are certain things you just know, and not in an egotistical way, because there are plenty of jobs I've not gotten. It was stemming from this, 'I know this woman' kind of place."
Mendes believed she could play Romina and was likewise sure Cianfrance would see her in a different light once they'd visited her old haunts.
"It was the idea of coming from nothing. We weren't poor, but we were lower middle class. It's the struggle, and being so close to Hollywood, but light years away. Like Schenectady being so close to New York City, but light years away."
Mendes' journey between her neighbourhood and Hollywood was circuitous. She never intended to be an actress and was studying marketing at college, but once the acting bug bit, it bit hard. She auditioned for a film and got it -- Children of the Corn 5 -- and was so humiliated by her own first attempt at acting that she determined to get this thing right.
After Mendes appeared with Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001), the world sat up and took notice. She went on to star in Hitch, We Own The Night, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, The Other Guys, Last Night, Girl In Progress and Holy Motors, among many other films. She'll star next in Gosling's feature debut, How To Catch A Monster.
Mendes has been on all the Most Beautiful and Most Sexy lists, she's been a 'face' of Revlon and she's introduced her own clothing and home furnishings lines.
She's creative and she's hugely successful. She's also glamorous, something that's both helped and hindered her career.
"At the end of the day, I take responsibility for the image I put out there. I think Derek was worried I was a bit kind of glamorous," she says of her Place Beyond The Pines director, "but the truth is, that's something I tap into when I have to, when I'm doing a campaign and the hair and makeup comes into play, or a photo shoot for a magazine, or today, when I want you guys to think I look nice. I don't want to wake up looking like a hobo, as Will Ferrell says to me in The Other Guys. But when I'm out there, I'm not that girl. I'm the very L.A. girl.
"When it's just me, I am the girl next door."