Eva Mendes captures ‘Spirit’ of film genre (NJ.com)

by Lisa Rose

The Star-Ledger

Thursday December 18, 2008,

Glamorous, enigmatic and cutthroat in a literal way, the women in films and graphic novels from Frank Miller tend to be a bit more, er, proactive than typical comic genre female characters.

“The Spirit,” opening Christmas Day, features Eva Mendes as a jewel thief/ace swimmer named Sand Saref. She co-stars with Scarlett Johansson as murderous scientist Silken Floss and Paz Vega as knife-wielding belly dancer Plaster of Paris.

Based on a 1940 comic by Will Eisner, the picture is the sole directorial debut from Miller who co-directed his graphic novel adaptation of “Sin City” with Robert Rodriguez. The writer’s swords-and sandals epic “300” has also been made into a hit film.

The title character (Gabriel Macht) is a masked misfit for whom death is a curable condition. He battles a fashionable nemesis called the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson).

On paper, Sand Saref could seem a type, a woman fixated with diamonds. Mendes says, however, that the character’s neurotic need for shiny things is more than simple materialism.

This is the Cuban-American star’s second appearance in a comic book adaptation, following her performance in “Ghost Rider” as a journalist in love with the engine-revving hero (Nicolas Cage). At 34, she has a list of credits that ranges from early roles in music videos to big parts in comedies — “Hitch” — and dramas — “We Own the Night.”

LIONSGATEEva Mendes in “The Spirit,” opening Christmas Day.

We sat down for a chat with Mendes — looking fab in a strapless dress — during a “Spirit” press day at a New York hotel last weekend.

Q: Frank Miller is such an interesting visual stylist, how would you describe his technique working with the cast, helping you work on the characters?

A: He was very specific. Sometimes, when he was trying to communicate something to me about a scene, he would draw it out for me. In two seconds, he’d draw me as Sand Saref. I was like, “Can you sign that for me?”

Q: Did you get to keep any of them?

A: I kept a couple.

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Bob Andelman is the host and producer of Mr. Media® Interviews. He is also the author or co-author of 15 books, including The Wawa Way with Howard Stoeckel, Building Atlanta with Herman J. Russell, Fans Not Customers with Vernon W. Hill, founder of Commerce Bank and Metro Bank UK, Mind Over Business with Ken Baum, The Consulate with Thomas R. Stutler, The Profiler with Pat Brown, Built From Scratch with the founders of The Home Depot, The Profit Zone with Adrian Slywotzky, Mean Business with Albert J. Dunlap, and Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. Click here to see Bob Andelman's Amazon Central author page. He is a member in good standing of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (member page).