LOS ANGELES — Eiza Gonzalez has been a popular singer and actress in Mexico for a decade, but she was ready when her break came in Hollywood. In Baby Driver, she’s Jon Hamm’s girlfriend so things seem to be working out.
“I always say that what’s between you and your success is yourself,” Gonzalez said in an exclusive interview with philly.com/geek. “Robert (Rodriguez) saw me in an interview, speaking English and he’d been trying to find someone to play Santanico Pandemonium for the TV show From Dusk till Dawn (the character played by Salma Hayek in the film of the same name). He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
“He saw in me a connectedness and femininity and sensuality and feeling very safe and comfortable in my own skin,” Gonzalez continued. “I didn’t really see myself as a real actress! It’s weird, because you dream about these things in Mexico but it usually doesn’t come true and it’s really hard — especially as a woman!”
So when Edgar Wright was looking to cast a young, tough Latina actress as one of the bank robbers in Baby Driver, Rodriguez put in a good word for Gonzalez.
“My main focus on choosing jobs — and I did this with Edgar — is directors! Because when you’re working with this caliber of people, they can call me to do a project in the middle of the street, filmed with their iPhone, and I’m there,” she said. “You know they’re going to be innovative and try something different and love you and cherish you!”
“I have to pinch myself sometimes and I love it,” she added. “Because at the end of the day, they’re just humans! They’re all geeks doing what they love and building these human connections with passion.”
While Gonzalez said some luck is involved as far as getting an opportunity, she has advice for those who get that opportunity.
“You have to bring it,” she said. “You don’t ever want to be the weak link.”
Although Gonzalez’s Darling and Hamm’s Buddy’s wild relationship seems in stark contrast to the other romantic relationship in the film between Ansel Elgort’s Baby and Lily James’s Debora, Gonzalez said they are both examples of true love.
“In order for anything that happens with them to matter, their relationship had to be built! They had to make this unbelievable relationship believable,she exclaimed. “Because if those feelings aren’t there, a lot of the movie doesn’t work!
“That’s why I was so lucky that Edgar put me with such a talented actor,” she continued. “Besides the obvious, right? His looks, his talent and that he’s charming. He was willing to engage in this playful game and share that energy, which makes us complement each other – and Baby and Debora as well. Because I wanted to be respectful of what Lily was doing. I love Lily. She’s my favorite character in the movie besides me. Because her performance and the view she has is so bright and full of light.
“So I needed to contrast that a bit without being a stereotypical tough Latina chick.”
As for what the future holds, Gonzalez said that she wants to do a variety of roles – and hopes one individual gives her a call.
“I’m an actress that’s game for anything. I would love to do a movie like Winter’s Bone, she said. “But if (DC head honcho) Geoff Johns called me I’d love it! I love written books and novels but I REALLY love graphic novels and comic books!”