Eva Mendes is without a doubt one of the best looking actresses working today. However, she is a lot more than a very pretty face and in movies like Training Day and Out of Time she's shown that. In her newest film, Ghost Rider, she takes the typical role of "the chick" in a superhero movie and infuses it with a 21st Century style all her own.
In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sells his soul to Mephistopheles and sadly parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), the love of his life. Years later, Johnny's path crosses again with Roxanne, now a gogetting reporter, and also with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny's soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles charges Johnny with defeating the despicable Blackheart, Mephistopheles' nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one.
Recently we caught up with Mendes at a sneak preview of some Ghost Rider footage held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Eva Mendes: That was the first movie, project, acting, anything. I think it's time to see that movie again. As for Ghost Rider, this is something I've wanted to do for awhile. I was looking around, as far as my wish list of actors and I met with Mark Steven Johnson. I just fell in love with him. We totally have the same sense of humor. We had that from that start and after we met for dinner I said, "I'm dying to work with you now and Nic, just don't make me the chick. Give me some obstacles. Give her struggle..."
So Roxanne is not a damsel in distress?
Eva Mendes: She kind of is which is really what's kind of interesting about that. That's not all she is. She isn't a victim. It's kind of hard, how are you not a victim if you're a damsel in distress? We kind of played with that, you know? She's going to be okay without him but that's the thing, she's just going to be okay without him.
Having been to Comic-Con for this movie what's your take on that place?
Eva Mendes: I love it. I love when people are that passionate that they get dressed up and stuff. Like little families, the whole unit together, it's so cute. It's kind of like Halloween for grownups.
Is there danger for Roxanne? Not just from the bad guys but from Johnny Blaze himself?
Eva Mendes: Absolutely. I think for women, we all have problems in our relationships, and there's obstacles and this is just kind of a major obstacle. Usually, you've gotta just overcome them but how do you overcome... this is a tough one.
Are you interested in guest starring on what Mark is doing with Preacher?
Eva Mendes: I would love to do, Preacher. I love that comic book, it's amazing. That whole idea, I'd love to.
When Mark and Nicolas would be talking about comic books on the set did you try and get in on the conversation?
Eva Mendes: I'd just get up and get some coffee, kinda let the boys talk. They actually educated me quite a bit. It was cool. They were really open to educating me. Both of them together, I really couldn't get a word in edgewise because, if I had a word to put in, they were so cute together. They could talk comics for hours.
Did you try and go back and look at the Ghost Rider comic?
Eva Mendes: I did, actually. Roxanne Simpson is obviously very different from me. I was like she's blonde, she's caucasian, blue eyes... not me. I was hoping the comic fans don't reject that. I hope they accept me for another version of Roxanne. What I did realize what I could do, and hopefully it works, I realized she's very, very voluptuous in all the comic books. I was like, "Why don't I not watch what I eat so much and let the fun stuff grow?" That way, I was like, "At least I'll give them the voluptuous part and hopefully they won't be disappointed."
Working with the effects were there a lot of times when you were acting with nothing?
Eva Mendes: Yeah, totally. At first you just feel like an idiot because there's nothing there. I was like, "Okay, what do I do?" And that's where acting class... that's where that really comes into play. I have to go within myself even more than having Nicolas in front of me. When you're there on your own, it's like, "Okay, I think I need to bring out some issues." You kind of bring out some things that you're really scared of.
Did you model your reporter after anyone?
Eva Mendes: Well, there's really two scenes where you see me as a field reporter. The first scene is where I first see the Ghost Rider for the first time. Everything went out the window because I kept trying to hold it together, I kept trying to keep professional, but the man you love is right in front of you, and the first time you're interviewing him you're talking to him... so all the years of journalism, and the years of field reporting didn't really pay off in that moment. You don't really see too much of that.
Are you signed on for a sequel?
Eva Mendes: I have no idea (Laughs) Isn't that terrible?
Would you like to come back?
Eva Mendes: With these guys, yeah. Absolutely.
What did you learn from working with Nicolas?
Eva Mendes: That you can take any material and make it your own and very interesting. What I really learned from him is that you prepare for a scene... you don't know what the other person is going to do but you expect the scene's going a certain way. He would come in every time and he would flip those lines. He played the not obvious part of the line. I thought, "This is so interesting. How do you do that? I want to do that?" He turns everything on it's head.
What do you have coming up next?
Eva Mendes: I just finished my first movie that I produced called Live!. I play a network executive hired to get the network back up. It's cool because it's a commentary on America and where we're going with Reality TV. I play this character that's like, "I need to get the numbers back up!" And I find a way to put Russian Roulette on the air. I find a loophole in the legal system and I find a way to do it. I really feel we are deep into the dumbing down of America and I don't want to be a part of it. We're gonna do the whole film festival thing.
Earlier this year, I did a really dramatic piece with Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, and Robert Duvall which is called We Own the Night. It's my first leading role in a drama. It was an unbelievably amazing experience.
Ghost Rider opens February 16, 2007 from Columbia Pictures.