As a young woman in her early 20s having just moved to Hollywood from South Texas in 1998, Eva Longoria thought she “had arrived” when she landed a role as an extra in Ricky Martin’s music video for his single “Shake Your Bon-Bon.” It’s a story Longoria, 43, shared with an audience in Los Angeles last month during a ceremony where she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
If Longoria, best known for her role on the popular TV series “Desperate Housewives,” thought she had made it big back then, there’s no telling how that same young woman would have reacted knowing the kind of success she would earn over the next two decades. From award-winning actress to TV producer and director to spokesperson, restaurateur, fashion designer, political activist and philanthropist, Longoria has made a mark in her fair share of industries.
In “Overboard,” the remake of the 1987 comedy of the same name, Longoria plays Theresa, a pizzeria owner who encourages her friend and employee Kate (Anna Faris) to take advantage of a millionaire playboy (Eugenio Derbez) with amnesia who cheated her out of some money. In the remake, genders are reversed as Faris takes on the role originally played by Kurt Russell, and Derbez does his best to match Goldie Hawn’s previous fish-out-of-water character.
During an interview with me last week, Longoria talked about the importance of the gender switch for today’s audience, women as storytellers and how she’s helping young Latinas strive for the same dreams she had 20 years ago.
Remakes of ’80s movies aren’t anything new, but why remake something like “Overboard” that is already beloved by so many people?
I was such a big fan of [the original movie] in the ’80s. Eugenio Derbez is the one who found the title and thought, “Hey, this would be interesting to remake.” The gender switch in it makes so much sense. It’s so contemporary. I was really nervous that they were remaking it until I read the script and then I was like, “Oh, my God, this is hilarious!”
By switching genders, the female character in the new film has more control of the situation than in the original. How do you think a remake of the film would’ve been perceived in 2018 if gender roles weren’t reversed?
I think [the original movie] was a movie for the ’80s — a movie for a different time. With women’s empowerment and #MeToo and #TimesUp, I don’t think you could do the original version today.
Do you think reversing genders in films like this and “Ghostbusters,” is a direct result of women in the film industry speaking out and demanding more prominent roles?
I hope this is a tidal wave for change in how we approach storytelling. Women are not a special interest group. We’re 50 percent of the global population. There should be an equal amount of stories from our perspective. Women have buying power and have a strong view on life and are complex human beings. There are many untapped wells of stories we can draw from.
Talk about the monthly meetings you recently started having in your living room with other Latina actresses.
It’s called Latinas Who Lunch. It’s a group of Latinas in the industry who want to support each other. We want to be sure we uplift each other’s projects and become megaphones for the work we are doing. So, instead of standing alone, we’re standing together. It’s been so wonderful connecting with all these powerful, strong, intelligent Latinas who are doing great things in the business.
You were just immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two weeks ago. How does it feel to now be a permanent part of Hollywood Blvd.?
This is a legacy beyond my dreams. When I moved [to Hollywood] 20 years ago, I told myself, “One day I’m going to have a star on this street.” For it to become true is just mind blowing to me.
Did you think 20 years ago that you would become a director?
I knew I wanted to be on the business side of entertainment. I really loved directing and producing when I landed here, but I went the acting route. Now, I’ve come back to my true passion, which is putting projects together and utilizing different muscles of my brain. I never felt like I reached my full potential as an actor, but as a producer and director, it’s so much more fulfilling.