×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CANNES: Salma Hayek On Producing ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ (Exclusive)

'I pulled it off through three years of not sleeping.'

Growing up in Mexico, Salma Hayek remembered seeing the “The Prophet,” the bestselling book of 26 prose poems by Kahlil Gibran, on her grandfather’s nightstand. “I was very close to him,” Hayek recalled. “And to me, when I see the cover, I cannot think of anyone else but him. There’s a very special meaning for me with the book.”

In 2011, when the project came across her producing desk, Hayek immediately remembered how special the story was to her. She signed on to turn the material, which was first published in 1923, into a 2D-animated movie. After countless conference calls and financing deals, a work-in-progress version of the film will screen tonight, during a festival presentation created for the project.

“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” which has a budget of $12 million, was a global effort in every way. Hayek recruited nine directors from around the world to animate and tell different vignettes from the book. She convinced “The Lion King” helmer Roger Allers to oversee the project and come up with an overarching narrative — about a young girl who befriends a poet in prison — to connect all the stories.

“I got the money without a script or director from various different places,” Hayek said in an interview with Variety prior to her Cannes premiere. The film was financed by the Doha Film Institute, Participant Media, MyGroup Lebanon, FFA Private Bank, Financiere Pinault and Code Red Prods. Wild Bunch is handling international sales at Cannes. Characters are voiced by Liam Neeson, John Krasinski, Quvenzhane Wallis and Hayek.

“I pulled it off through three years of not sleeping, an ulcer, and I think I lost half my life,” Hayek joked. “It’s not been an easy ride. You know what? I’m patient with myself now.”

Hayek, who produced “Frida” and the U.S. TV series “Ugly Betty,” said she takes on that role when a project deeply connects with her. “I don’t get passionate about something unless I have a vision that nobody else sees clearly.”

It was Hayek’s idea, for example, to allow each director the space to create a unique story without any restrictions. “The more different they are, the better, because it’s a surprise,” Hayek said. “You don’t know where you’re going to go next. There’s such a freedom with the film.”

She thinks “The Prophet” will play to both children and adult audiences — her 6-year-old daughter, Valentina, was touched by an early version of the film. “It’s a right time to make a movie like this,” Hayek said. “It’s extraordinary that there is a Lebanese author who brought religions together, and talked about peace and death in such a beautiful way.”

She’s excited to finally share “The Prophet” with the world, even if it’s not done yet.

“I worked really hard,” Hayek said. “Since I don’t have a distributor, I’m organizing the party, the screening, what’s going to be shown — everything. Even the poster.”

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content