'From Dusk Till Dawn' at 25: Salma Hayek almost lost role to Madonna, went under trance to shoot film's sultry snake dance

Salma Hayek remembers how she got the role of a snake-dancing stripper vampire in the Quentin Tarantino-penned, Robert Rodriguez-directed 1996 thriller From Dusk Till Dawn, which turns 25 on Tuesday. But she doesn’t remember all that much about the actual filming. Hayek said at multiple points during a 2017 Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment that her memories of shooting the scene were blurry because she had gone “on trance” due to some serious ophidiophobia.

“Quentin told me, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re dancing with a snake.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that, I can’t do that. It’s my greatest fear,’” Hayek recalled (watch above). To prod the actress, Tarantino claimed that Madonna was interested in the role, and that she would have no problem being wrapped in a python.

“He said, well, Madonna will do it, I already talked to her, and she's willing to dance with the snake.”

Hayek eventually agreed to it.

“It was good because I had to overcome my greatest fear. I had to go on trance to do the dance… And there was no choreography. It was improvised. Because you can’t choreograph a snake, we don’t know what she’s going to do!”

Hayek was recruited to the project after doing a favor for friend Rodriguez. He and Tarantino were working on the anthology film Four Rooms (1994) and needed a stripper, so Rodriguez reached out to his Desperado star on the day of filming. “He said, ‘Just put a bathing suit on, and we won’t see your face.'”

“So I did it and from that dance, Quentin wrote me the part in From Dusk Till Dawn,” Hayek explained.

Tarantino, who won an Academy Award for Pulp Fiction in 1995, clearly had no problem throwing around his newfound clout, whether it was threatening Hayek that Madonna could take over the role he wrote for her or giving himself the best seat in the house. (The writer-director co-starred with George Clooney in the film.)

Tarantino “makes me dance only for him,” Hayek pointed out. “George Clooney was like, ‘How come she doesn’t look at us?’ [Quentin said], ‘Because I’m the writer.'”

From Dusk Till Dawn is currently streaming on Amazon.

Watch our full Role Recall interview with Salma Hayek:

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