Eva Mendes-Finding Herself in The Place Beyond the Pines
by Jay S. Jacobs
Eva Mendes may be well known for her stunning looks, but beneath the beauty is a selfless actress who is more than willing to get down and dirty to discover the heart and souls of her characters. Mendes has always worked hard to find gritty dramas, such as Training Day, Girl in Progress and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. These films make a good counterpoint to some of her more traditional Hollywood leading lady spots, such as Hitch, The Other Guys, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Ghost Rider – though Mendes shines at more commercial work as well.
In director Derek (Blue Valentines) Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, Mendes takes on perhaps her most tragic and broken character yet. Mendes plays Romina, a young waitress in Schenectady, New York, who has a son after a one-night stand with a traveling motorcycle stunt driver named Luke (Ryan Gosling). When Luke returns to the small town and finds out that he is a father, he decides to try to settle down and become a family man.
The problem is, though she is obviously in love with Luke, he is obviously dangerous to Romina and her young son Jason. She is now living with another man named Kofi (Mahershala Alia) who may not stir her passion in the same way that Luke does, but is safe and settled and wants to be a father to her toddler. Romina has to decide to follow her heart or her head, a decision which profoundly changes her life as a young mother, as well as later as a middle-aged mother to high school aged Jason (played by Dane DeHaan as a teen).
A couple of weeks before the film’s release, Mendes met with PopEntertainment and a few other websites to discuss her career and her experience in making The Place Beyond the Pines.
Everybody had to get ugly for this movie and go to difficult places. Was that uncomfortable? So many films do the complete opposite.
No. Hey, this is what I love to do. I’m an actress. My film career started with Training Day. I was as raw as you could get in that movie. Since then that’s what I gravitate towards. When you do the bigger Hollywood films, they tend to like you a little bit more cleaned up, but I’ve done a lot of films… not like this, certainly… but that I’ve been gritty and raw for. Certainly We Own the Night had elements of that. And a film I produced called Live! I really try to get it in there. I did a film last year, Girl in Progress, that was a small little film. But, yeah, I’m an actress and I’m certainly not a glamazon in that way. I turn it on when I have to. If I have to wear something on a red carpet, obviously, to sell a movie. Or if I have to do a campaign. But that’s not where the art lies, obviously.