Salma Hayek famously danced with a snake in the movie From Dusk Till Dawn, written by Quentin Tarantino, but a pretty big fear of snakes almost got her fired from the movie. Hayek needed the paycheck so she sorted out how to overcome her phobia in a hurry.
‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ stars George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino
From Dusk Till Dawn is a 1996 film written by Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It stars Tarantino, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, and Juliette Lewis.
In the movie, Hayek plays stripper Santanico Pandemonium who dances at a club called the T*tty Twister. Her act involves a sultry dance with a giant snake, a scene that wasn’t in the original script but was added before shooting.
Hayek was not initially on board with the snake dance, given her fear of snakes, but had to change her tune or lose the job.
During a 2017 interview with Yahoo’s Role Recall, Hayek shared some of her memories about playing the part. “Quentin told me, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re dancing with a snake,’” she recalled. “I said, ‘I can’t do that, I can’t do that. It’s my greatest fear.’”
He told her that Madonna could take the part instead, so she had to work through the fear quickly.
“It was good because I had to overcome my greatest fear. I had to go on trance to do the dance,” she explained. “It was improvised. There was no choreography … because you can’t choreograph a snake, we don’t know what she’s going to do!”
Hayek got the role after working with Rodriguez and Tarantino on Four Rooms in 1994. They needed to cast a stripper, so Rodriguez asked Hayek, who starred in his film Desperado. “He said, ‘Just put a bathing suit on and we won’t see your face,’” she shared.
“So I did it and from that dance, Quentin wrote me the part in From Dusk Till Dawn,” she added. “Where of course he makes me dance only for him. George Clooney was like, ‘How come she doesn’t look at us?’ [Quentin said], ‘Because I’m the writer.’”