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For Salma Hayek, starring in Italian director Matteo Garrone’s English-language horror/fantasy “The Tale of Tales, in which she plays a 17th century Spanish queen who eats a raw sea dragon’s heart in order to become pregnant, was a challenging experience, she told a packed presser at the Cannes Film Festival, where the critically well-received pic world premieres today.

Asked by a Nepalese journalist what the big sea monster heart tasted like, she said: “Ree-pul-sive. We have to talk about this.”

“The director wanted the heart to be identical to a real [animal] heart, even inside. All the exact parts. I took a bite, and I thought I would recognize what I was eating. But I did not. There was pasta, candy, all kinds of disgusting things. Thankfully my daughter Valentina was there. The third time I gagged, she said to me: “if you bite from the front you can turn around and spit it out, and the camera won’t see it.”

There were other challenges on the Italian shoot as well.

“They gave me a dress that weighed about thirty kilos. And I was in an outdoor labyrinth, and they said: ‘OK, walk to this point,’ and it would take me 45 minutes. Then Matteo would say: “Oh, look at the light, we have to do that shot again, in a different spot, and I was all sweaty.”

So to avoid another 45-minute walk, she tried to jump over, “and the dress was so heavy that I got stuck. So finally three guys had to pick me up. It was so humiliating…,” she recounted, sparking bursts of laughter across the room, as a beaming Garrone nodded.

Another challenge was “to enter the director’s head.” “I could never guess what Matteo was going to think: You had to be completely vulnerable and available, both emotionally and physically.”

But “it was definitely worth it.”

“All the characters are contemporary characters that we can all relate to. And the story always goes to a place that you could never have imagined. That’s what makes the film so special,” she enthused.

“Even though it’s a fairy tale and a fable, it doesn’t go where fairy tales and fables usually go. It goes to very unique places in a very unique way.”