Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - Madame Truska (Salma Hayek) takes the stage © Universal Pictures

For the role of Madam Truska in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, the girlfriend of vampire Larten Cripsley (John C Reilly), director Paul Weitz said he wanted, “someone who is conventionally voluptuous to be able to sprout a beard at will.” Salma Hayek fit the bill.

The Mexican actress/singer/producer/social activist is not a stranger to the vampire genre as I discovered when she spoke about it at the press conference for the movie.

What do you think of the vampire mythology?

I don’t have a fascination for vampires, I’ve actually been a vampire in a movie and I’ve been in love with a vampire in another movie, yet I have no fascination whatsoever with them.

But I did love this script, it wasn’t the fact that it was about vampires, I found the concept of the circus freaks a lot more interesting than the vampires, maybe because there’s been less movies about them. What I like is that there were interesting characters. What I liked also was it’s a film that’s for young people but it doesn’t treat young people as a cliché, and it’s respectful of their uniqueness, it doesn’t tell them what they’re supposed to think, it gives them space to take different things in different ways.

I thought it was quite smart and refreshing, and so that’s what attracted me about this project, and it just happened to be about vampires. And also it just happened to have facial hair, which is the third time that I’ve done some kind of facial hair in a movie.

Tell us about your character Madame Truska?

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – Crepsley (John C Reilly) escorts girlfriend Madame Truska (Salma Hayek) © Universal Pictures

Madame Truska is strong and knows what she wants but at the same time she can be very sweet and vulnerable. She is madly in love with a vampire. You definitely recognize in her a lot of the longings every woman had.

She just wants this man to love her for who she is and to settle down. To see how these very strange women deal with common problems was fascinating to me.

How hard was it to do the beard?

There was a lot of work and hours in the trailer, but I was excited to see myself with a beard. It’s fun to be able to change and become someone else.

Does it get weird for you when you see yourself like that or are you used to it now?

I’m not totally used to seeing myself with a beard. John made me feel really good about it, it was probably just a trick but every time I saw him he said, ‘My God, you look so hot with the beard.’

It’s like when people tell you when you’re swollen like a whale from the pregnancy and you’ve never looked worse in your life, and they say, ‘You glow.’ They have no words to tell you about your look. But you feel like you glow, so it was the same with the beard, they made me feel good about it.

Did you like your costumes?

There were some amazing costumes in it. Judianna [Makovsky, the Costume Designer] did a fantastic job.

It was a really challenging movie for them and what I liked the most was she really worked with you and we were all very picky about the characters, I don’t think it was just, ‘Oh I want to look cool,’ we were all very intense, I know John was, and you have to be about really creating a character, and so rarely you get a character that you can create something big and theatrical that has a look and has a world of its own. It was really exciting to wear them

Was the shoot always fun or did you encounter any difficulties or challenges?

For me it was a dream job because I have a very small part and everybody in the movie is amazing and fun to be with, so for me it was just a lot of fun.

I would just come in and work with nice people, I have a fun, crazy character and it was not a lot of work, I got to spend a lot of time with my child but, at the same time, everybody took this very seriously. The movie has a lot of comedy, there are fantastic characters, but part of the fun was working with such professional people.

Do you feel with the spotlight on actors that you are the real cirque du freak?

I don’t think that we are the freaks, I think what’s freaky is the guy behind the camera desperate and so excited because they’re seeing you walk into a supermarket.

I think that’s freaky – those are freaks, I’m not the freak, I’m being attacked by the freaks sometimes.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.