Eva Mendes is mostly known for her work in big-budget studio flicks, and she isn't sure why. "I have actually done a lot more independents than big pictures, and nobody ever brings that part up," she tells us while doing press for her upcoming film the (relatively) small-budget, "The Place Beyond the Pines."

She has a point. Last year, Mendes starred in the dreamy psychedelic flick "Holy Motors." Prior to that, it was a role in Massy Tajedin's "Last Night." In "Pines," she plays Romina, a woman coming to grips with a child she had with a vigilante / motorcycle stunt driver Luke (played by real-life boyfriend Ryan Gosling). Here, Mendes is completely dressed down, playing a character who's both physically and emotionally distraught. Needless to say, it's a far cry from her roles in "Hitch" and "Ghost Rider."

Mendes spoke with Moviefone about her new film, the movie she wishes got more attention, and being an extra in "Night at the Roxbury." She also shared a video of her from the upcoming HBO movie "Clear Eyes," which features the actress wearing a fat suit (seriously).

Your character doesn't catch much of a break in this movie. After seeing "Blue Valentine," I immediately had that feeling of That's how I want to work. That's what kind of movie I want to be in. It's a thought-provoking film that feels authentic and creates a dialogue. I wanted to go out for this role, and [Derek] didn't feel I was right for it. I said, "That's crazy, I want to go in and audition for it."

It was really great because it challenged me in a way. I knew this was my role. I needed to play this woman. So when I showed up to his casting office in L.A., I showed up looking completely different than what you see me today -- crazy, weird head full of mousse, no make-up. When I was waiting for him in the lobby he came out and passed me. He didn't know it was me, and I was like "Yes! That's a great sign." I think he was taken with that.

So you showed you wanted it. Exactly. Derek likes history, he likes drawing parallels.

You mentioned that this is a "thought-provoking" film. You certainly starred in one last year, with "Holy Motors." I still feel like [that movie's] a dream. I am very connected to my dreams. And when I wake up sometimes and I try to analyze them and dissect them, that's the fun part. But then when I talk about them, it almost takes away some of its currency. It almost takes away some of its power in a way. And I feel like that with "Holy Motors." It's such an abstract piece of art that I don't feel, just as an actress, that I should put my opinion out about what it is. I don't want to ruin it for everybody. To me, it was personal.

How different is the process for you of working on a movie like "Pines" and "Holy Motors" as opposed to "Ghost Rider" or "2 Fast 2 Furious"? Those films were really long ago. When I started out, I was lucky to be a part of some great big studio films. But "2 Fast 2 Furious" was ten years ago.

It was five sequels ago! [Laughs] Exactly! People are like "It's nice to see you in a drama." But it's like, "I started in a drama!" "Training Day" was my big break, and it was just a few scenes but it was dramatic and raw and scary and gritty. So it's funny that people have an idea of what you are, and they like having the idea of what you are, when [in reality] the past six years, all I have done is indie films, besides "The Other Guys."

Is there one film of yours you wish people had paid more attention to? Yes! "Last Night." Massy Tadjedin. She wrote and directed this film that I am in with Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Guillaume Canet. It is so great. It came out three years ago and nobody saw it. Please put the word out there. But not for me. I want people to watch it for Massy. She's an incredible writer and director.

You had a chance to do some non-movie stuff in the last few years, like "Drunk History of Christmas." Are Funny or Die shorts as fun to shoot as they are to watch? I love those guys over on Funny or Die -- [Adam] Mckay and [Will] Ferrell -- so much. I have done quite a few things with them. I did this crazy sex-tape thing for them, which I thought was funny. And then, in "The Other Guys," at the end, I sang this song with Cee Lo Green. I did this ridiculously lame music video that just kind of spoofs music videos. So with "Drunk History," Ryan was doing it. That was more of a fun thing. But those guys from Funny or Die, they'll call me up and I'll be like "Sure, anything. You guys are the best."

You have a little bit of a history with Will Ferrell, too, because you were in "Night at the Roxbury." Yes! A little trivia. That was the first job I booked in the business. I was an extra in there. In that film, I am in the wedding scene and Will Ferrell comes on to me. So that's how our relationship started. The next time I see Will Ferrell is about six years later on a film called "The Wendell Baker Story." I have one scene with Will. I basically leave Luke WIlson's character to go for a more stable man. That man is Will Ferrell. So, at first, we have the initial flirtation at "Roxbury," then we are boyfriend-girlfriend in "The Wendell Baker Story." And then, the husband-and-wife story in "The Other Guys."

Did he remember you when you saw him again on "Wendell Baker"? That was the first thing I asked. Do you remember me?! He was like "Of course I remember." I mean, who knows. I have a feeling I'll have another film with him soon. If you look at the sequence of movies we've done together, he would now have to be my baby daddy.

You have "How to Catch a Monster" coming up with Ryan. I am super excited, but I am so incredibly superstitious, and this is something that drives my family crazy, but until I am on the set, I don't even talk about things. I never talk about what I am about to do. But, I just did something with Larry David. It's so funny. In fact, I will show you something [she grabs her phone]. I snuck a video. [The video is of her wearing a fat suit].

Wow. Do you look like that throughout the whole movie? No, it was for a day. Do you know how happy I am? For me, the joy is playing characters. Whether it's "Holy Motors" and some weird stringy red wig and standing on a tomb and having feathers as eyelashes, or playing Romina, who's just this very kind of raw character in a crazy predicament. It's the fun of it all. I think secretly I am a character actor. I think I am finally realizing it.

"The Place Beyond the Pines" opens in limited release on March 29.

categories Movies