Salma Hayek has always been fearless, but there was one role that made her think: herself.
Or at least a comically awful version of herself that she plays in the first episode of ‘Black Mirror’ season 6, titled ‘Joan Is Awful’. Steve Greene of IndieWire called this episode another in “the show’s ‘ripped from WIRED titles’ approach to technology”. Annie Murphy plays a tech executive who unknowingly waives her rights to life via the terms and conditions she failed to read (as we all do) for an app called Streamberry.
The app collects enough data to piece together Joan’s life via artificial intelligence and becomes a TV show with Salma Hayek playing Joan. Yes, Hayek plays herself, an actress who played Joan.
But obviously this is a very, very heightened version of Salma Hayek. “I got to explore concepts and clichés people have about me and be self-deprecating,” the actress told the Radio Times (via The independent) of the episode, which also starred Ben Barnes, Michael Cera and Rob Delaney.
“It’s like I created an alter ego where I could do the most disgusting and grotesque things that you would never do in real life,” said Hayek. “And have permission to do so.”
“There are so many moments that shocked me in the script. There’s a huge one I’ve had to contend with, and he made me ask myself, ‘Do I really want to do this? Am I going to get in trouble?””
Needless to say, the episode gets even more meta than its initial concept. ‘Black Mirror’ has been exploring the extreme possibilities of technology since the show premiered on Britain’s Channel 4 in 2011. Creator Charlie Brooker has imagined incredibly real alternate realities where the British Prime Minister could be forced by social media to having sex with a pig, or that one day our entire lifestyle and our hierarchical place within it could be determined by the people around us constantly giving us Uber-style star ratings.
The fact that the rights to life must suddenly come under attack, as the intersection of law and technology becomes ever more slippery, is hardly a leap.