This is the second movie Eva Mendes has shot with Nicolas Cage. The first was the popular genre hit Ghost Rider. In Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Mendes plays Frankie Donnenfield, a prostitute having an affair with Nicolas Cage’s character, Terence McDonagh, a rouge detective who uses his job to support his drug habit.

Eva Mendes spoke about her special relationship with Nicolas Cage at the press conference for the movie.

What was it like working with Nicolas for a second time?

Drug-addicted prostitute Frankie Donnenfeld (Eva Mendes) © First Look Studios
Drug-addicted prostitute Frankie Donnenfeld (Eva Mendes) © First Look Studios

For me, as fun as Ghost Rider was, I knew going into it it was a big popcorn, comic book film. I’ve been a fan of Nic’s since I was really young. I loved Vampire’s Kiss and Wild at Heart. I love that Nic, I love this Nic as well, but to me that’s as fearless as you get and that’s what I strive to be in my work.

I still feel like a student of acting, I still go to acting class and I study, so for me the opportunity to work with him on a film like this, where he’s just soaring and he’s just doing it, completely fearlessly, for me it was like school, in the best way possible.
I think the fun for me was just watching Nic at his best, he was so inspiring.  I was really excited by that.

How did you connect with your character?

The only way I connected to my character is the fact that I’m a survivor and she’s the ultimate survivor. Thankfully in my life I haven’t had to make extreme sacrifices and decisions like her. She’s the extreme version of me, but she’s just trying to survive, and I’ve never judged her for the choices she made. I don’t know about her as far as the end of the film when she’s pregnant.

I loved that there’s hope, redemption, and I love that it ended on that note.  I’m not sure what kind of mother she’s going to be with this little warped family that they have! I’m not sure what’s to come [for them], it’s a little scary.

Frankie Donnenfeld (Eva Mendes) and Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) © First Look Studios
Frankie Donnenfeld (Eva Mendes) and Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) © First Look Studios

What gives you joy in life?

Honestly, working with people like this. Collaborating with Nicolas Cage for a second time on something this amazing and working with Werner Herzog (the movie’s director), who has been on my hit list for so long.

This is what gives me joy, work, stretching myself, and I look forward to one day really truly playing the ‘bad lieutenant’ myself.

There is such ageism in Hollywood.  Do you worry about getting roles as you get older?

No, I’m actually looking forward to it, because maybe they’ll provide me with more layers and more color. God, I sound bitter, don’t I? [She laughs] I think when you’re in your twenties and your thirties even, and you look a certain way, and I’m not complaining because I certainly take responsibility and play into my image, but there’s a lack of colorful roles, certainly in a lot of American films.

What I look for are roles like Frankie, flawed characters, I want conflict, I want to stretch and grow and all the fun stuff.  There is ageism, but hopefully with age I’ll be exposed to more colorful characters and have more to do. I look forward to that.

Judy Sloane

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