But it was an opportunity Mendes nearly missed out on, initially declining the film because of her acting ambitions.
How Eva Mendes’ Latina background played a role in her being cast in ‘Hitch’
Mendes’ acting abilities played a significant role in her being sought for the popular romance film. But apart from that, her background as a Latina helped resolve a concern that the studio behind Hitch had for the movie.
Back then, Smith acknowledged there was some worry about casting either a white or black female actor alongside the Oscar-winner. Showing an interracial relationship between people who were black and white was seen as taboo. Meanwhile, casting a black actor as a romantic lead alongside Smith was feared to not attract a worldwide audience.
“There’s sort of an accepted myth that if you have two black actors, a male and a female, in the lead of a romantic comedy, that people around the world don’t want to see it,” Smith once told The Birmingham Post (via Today). “We spend $50-something million making this movie and the studio would think that was tough on their investment. So the idea of a black actor and a white actress comes up — that’ll work around the world, but it’s a problem in the U.S.”
Eva Mendes was the compromise. An interracial relationship between a Latina and a black actor wasn’t seen as risky compared to the other alternatives.
Eva Mendes originally turned down ‘Hitch’ because she wanted to be a serious actor
Mendes has long since been wanting to be taken seriously as an actor. She was originally offered her role in Hitch because, in addition to her skills, she could match Smith’s charm and humor.
“What we needed – which became ridiculously simple for us – was someone sexy and funny because that’s who Will is. Will is really charming and really good-looking and really funny. So with Eva what we got is sexy and funny,” Hitch director Andy Tennant once told BBC.
Mendes managed to check off these boxes. But even so, she rejected being a part of the movie because she didn’t think it was something a real actor would do.
“Actually I said no to Hitch and I was like I love Will but I want to be a serious actress. I don’t want to do a romantic comedy,” Mendes said in a 2007 interview with Collider. “I am an idiot, you know. And of course, meeting Will was like one of the highlights of my career, you know, and meeting Jada and then that movie, working with Sony, it’s just so funny so now it’s like I don’t know.”
Eva Mendes said she wouldn’t mind doing another romantic comedy
Hitch might have changed Mendes’ opinion on romantic comedies. In an interview with Female, the Fast and Furious actor shared that she wouldn’t mind dabbling in the genre again. But she also looked forward to maintaining her acting ambitions by having some variety as a performer.
“And I hope that I get more dramatic opportunities. Not just dramatic, I would love to do another romantic comedy. I’d love to do a musical. I love the whole gamut. But I want to be considered for things that Kate Winslet’s considered for – absolutely. I’m so in love with her. She is so amazing. I think she’s spectacular,” she said.