In the new Oliver Stone crime drama, Mexican actress Sandra Echeverría plays Magda, the daughter of a powerful drug cartel leader (Salma Hayek) in Mexico. Best known for her roles in Spanish-language soap operas like “Marina” and “La fuerza del destino,” Echeverría is now trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood.
What attracted you to the role of Magda in “Savages?”
She’s a girl that is used to having control of everything. She is not proud of the things her mother does. I like roles that are not always in my comfort zone. I always like to find different ways to play these types of characters.
You’ve done some English-language films before, but do you consider your role in “Savages” as an official crossover for you?
Well, I think it’s going to be a good platform for me. Oliver is an amazing director. He’s always trying to tell stories that are a reflection of what is going on around the world. I hope this part opens a lot of doors for me for more work in Mexico and everywhere.
Describe what it’s like to be on the set of an Academy Award winner like Oliver Stone. Is it as intense as one might think?
It was intimidating during the first rehearsal. He loves to rehearse. He loves to talk. We had a lot of sessions where we talked about the role and the character and the relationship between Magda and her mother. You feel comfortable when you finally get to the set because you know exactly what he wants. You are confident about it. You already know him and you already have a relationship with him. That makes it easier for everyone.
Talk about the mother/daughter relationship between you and Salma.
There is a line in the movie that is very important. Salma says, “I’m very proud of my daughter because she’s not proud of me.” I think that says it all. She doesn’t like what her mother is doing, but at the same time she is so much like her. They’re both so controlling. She is happy when she is away from her mother.
Whenever we hear about the drug cartels here in the U.S. it almost seems unreal since it’s not part of our daily lives. Since you’re from Mexico, what is it like being in the middle of some of that? Do you feel safe when you are working there?
Not in parts. It’s complicated. I don’t watch the news anymore. It’s horrible.
When you look at someone like Salma Hayek and the career she has built in the industry, is she someone you up to and use as inspiration?
Of course. I was a big fan of her before I met her, but after I met her I became an even bigger fan. She is an amazing woman. She works hard and is so passionate and strong. She’s not afraid to say things. She would propose things to Oliver and he would just listen. He actually did everything that she asked. I found that amazing.
People en Español named you one of the 50 Most Beautiful People this year. What goes through your mind when you get a distinction like that?
I feel very flattered. I get shy, actually. (Laughs) I get embarrassed, but it’s nice. It’s very funny, I don’t know.
Moving forward in your career, what kinds of roles do you hope to land?
I want to do different things. I want to find different roles and material. As an actor, that’s what I want to do. I always get excited when people tell me, “Oh, you’re the girl from [the novellas] ‘El clon’ or ‘Marina.’” Sometimes they don’t recognize me because they see me as my character and not an actress. I hope that’s because I’m doing a good job.