Hollywood actress Eva Mendes stars at the cover of The EDIT magazine by Net-A-Porter. Photographed by David Bellemere and styled by Tracy Taylor. Eva is currently promoting her her new clothing line, which she launched in collaboration with New York & Company.
In the inside interview the 39-year-old ultimate screen siren talks about her movie career, fashion and style preferences. Check out the interview below…
There can’t be many girls who dream of one day becoming a nun, then grow up to be the ultimate sultry screen siren. But EVA MENDES did just that, making her the perfect muse for The Edit’s Saints and Sinners issue. By Frank Digiacomo.
Eva Mendes hands me her cell phone and points to a photo. “Who is that nut?” she asks, as we talk in a courtyard of the historic Paramour Mansion estate in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.
She is still wearing the black rosary bead-style necklace that she modeled in The Edit’s shoot 15 minutes earlier, with a demure sleeveless dress from her own closet. Mendes dismisses it as “my hangout house dress”, though it is far more elegant than that. Then again, the 39-year-old actress could wear anything and still be off-the-radar beautiful. It is virtually impossible to hold a conversation with her without getting caught in the tractor-beam pull of her expressive brown eyes.
But the photo on her cell phone carries none of that appeal. “Look at her!” Mendes says, stabbing at the image of a heavy-browed woman. “She’s insane!” she adds with pride, for the crazy woman in the picture is Mendes herself, having muted her La Dolce Vita looks with what she calls “a light uni-brow” for her role in the HBO TV comedy movie Clear History, starring Larry David, currently airing on the small screen.
Raised as a Catholic, Mendes entertained the idea of becoming a nun – and an astronaut – before exploring Hollywood’s star system. Establishing her allure in such fare as Hitch, as Will Smith’s love interest, and the Farrelly brothers’ comedy Stuck On You, she slowly gravitated towards more art-house films. “At the beginning it was tricky – I had to choose between paying the rent sometimes and having artistic integrity. [But] I’ve always worked with great people,” she adds diplomatically. “I like taking advantage of my range.”
Her bizarre, dialogue-free scenes in Leos Carax’s weird and wonderful Holy Motors in 2012 were much discussed in the media, and her turn as Romina in The Place Beyond the Pines consolidated her cool credentials. For that role, too, Mendes scrubbed away the glamor to portray a working-class single mother in tragic circumstances.
Mendes’ own upbringing was, she says, lower-middle class. Born in Miami, the Cuban-American actress was raised in Glendale, California, by her mother, also Eva, after her parents divorced. In 2007, Mendes told The Sydney Morning Herald that her mom “suffered so much to make my life OK”.
The Place Beyond the Pines took Mendes’ career – and personal life – in a new direction. “It was the first time I felt like I’d played a real person,” she says. “When I saw the film, I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s a real woman with real struggles and torture behind her eyes’. That was big for me.” During filming in 2011, she reportedly became close to co-star Ryan Gosling. When Gosling made his directorial debut this past summer with How to Catch a Monster, he cast Mendes. A sign that their relationship may still be going strong can be found at the actress’ feet: two sleeping dogs she calls “my loves”, her regal Belgian Malinois, Hugo, and Gosling’s hulking mutt, George.
Her recent work has spurred Mendes to fulfil further ambitions. Working with Pedro Almodóvar is next on her wish list – she emailed the director to tell him so. “I’d love to work with Penélope Cruz on an Almodóvar film,” she says. “Penélope’s kind of the greatest.” The director has yet to bite, but Mendes says, “I believe in planting seeds. If you genuinely love somebody’s work, I think you should tell them.”
Her latest career move, however, involves fabric, not film. This month, the actress launches her eponymous fashion line exclusively for retailer New York & Company. Although her face has helped sell Calvin Klein lingerie and she co-runs a home decor line, this is the first time she has ventured into fashion design. “I’m particular about who I lend my name to,” she says. Before agreeing to it, she consulted her mother and sisters: “Everybody was like, ‘This is amazing!’” It will appeal to fans of Mendes’ retro-chic style. “It’s directly inspired by my closet,” says the actress, who loves body-flattering, vintage-print dresses. But she often makes a beeline for Goodwill stores. “I think it comes back to not having the means to buy what you wanted. I’ve never grown out of being that girl.”
For Mendes, style is in the little details: “I get fixated on things.” At the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of The Place Beyond the Pines, she donned a black silk Prada turban for the red carpet. Her goal was to draw attention to a treasured pair of earrings that once belonged to her beloved late grandmother.
When composing an outfit for the evening, Mendes adheres to two basic rules: “If you go short, no cleavage or anything super-fitted; if you’re covered from head to toe, you can go as fitted as you like.” She also has rules for deflecting questions about her romantic life. Mendes reveals that shooting has wrapped on How to Catch a Monster and that it was “an incredible experience”, but that’s all she’ll say. “I’m not trying to be cagey or protective,” she insists. “But when I go through something that has such an impact on me, it’s tough for me to articulate.”
When I ask what drew her to the role of Cat (“the Carmen Miranda of a theater club loosely based on Paris’ Grand Guignol and Hell Cafe”) in Gosling’s dark fantasy movie, a magnificent smile blossoms on her face, followed by a wary glance. “She’s just really… fun,’’ she says. Seeing my disappointment, she adds, “I know. You’re like, ‘Great, thanks, Mendes.’” When I broach the Mendes/Gosling relationship, she winces. “I’m sorry. I’m shutting down,” she says, half apologetically. “I’m such a weirdo. I literally lose my ability to speak – and you were doing so well,” she adds.
I recount a recent report that she has told Gosling she wants to be married by the time she turns 40 and start a family.
“Oh, is that what they’re saying?” she replies, arching one of her eyebrows before explaining that gossip, like red meat, is not part of her diet. “I live in a very protective kind of bubble that I’ve created for myself,” Mendes says. She shifts her gaze to Hugo, still sleeping at her feet. “You know, he’s an attack dog,” she adds with a smile.
How to Catch a Monster, out 2014.
Images & interview: net-a-porter.com