Stars gathered Monday in Westwood Village for the world premiere of Oliver Stone’s latest film, Savages, including castmembers Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Demián Bichir and Emile Hirsch.
Hayek and Lively stole the scene with their gorgeous designer gowns and crowds of fans cheering from the sidewalks. Despite the lawsuit that was filed against him earlier that day, Travolta attended the premiere with wife Kelly Preston, and they shared a kiss for photographers before quickly making their way to the theater. Other celebrities in attendance were Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker, KISS bassist Gene Simmons, Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky, American Horror Story’s Connie Britton and actors Jon Voight, James Woods and Helen Hunt.
The film, which is an adaptation of Don Winslow’s best-selling novel, is about two Laguna Beach marijuana dealers and their shared girlfriend who gets kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel.
“This is a movie about what happens inside the trade,” Stone said as he made his way down the red carpet with his wife Sun-jung. “It’s definitely corrupted. The big money has gotten so big that a lot of people play games and kill people for money and power.”
Like many of Stone’s films, Savages has a political undertone and discusses the drug problem in North America today. “It’s an issue that needs to be brought to the table and discussed by two people not one. This is not just Mexico’s problem, this is a problem on both sides of the border,” said Bichir, who grew up in Mexico City. “It needs to be talked about, and this film could tell you that clearly.”
In preparation for their roles, Stone had the cast shadow many real-life characters that were involved with the marijuana industry, including ex-cartel members. Travolta spent time with a former DEA agent, and Lively met with a young girl who had been abducted by the cartel.
“We got to meet people that were living our stories in all different ways so it really helped us understand that world,” said Lively, who donned a stunning black and cream Zuhair Murad gown.
Lively plays O, a free-spirited flower girl who has a polyamorous relationship with two best friends played by Kitsch and Aaron Johnson. She shares steamy sex scenes with both leading men that were shot during the first week of filming.
“It’s really not as exciting as it looks on screen,” Lively said. “There’s crew members and then there’s these naked men walking around. It just makes for an awkward environment.”
But the trio’s relationship is not just about sex, it’s also a love story. Stone said, “It’s an interesting theme to the movie because at the beginning Blake says she loves two men equally and Salma Hayek questions it. And by the end of the movie it resolves itself in an interesting way.”
Though her primary relationship is with Kitsch and Johnson, Lively also develops an interesting connection with her ruthless captor Elena, played by Hayek. “It was amazing to work with her as a villain because we were such good buddies personally,” Lively said. “It was always fun to see how talented she is and she’s such a tiny lady so to see her just take control and take the power, that was remarkable.”
Despite her small stature, Elena is able to command the men who work for her, including the bloodthirsty Lado (Del Toro). In one intense scene, Hayek strikes Del Toro in the face.
“You wouldn’t think such a tiny hand would do so much damage!” joked Bichir, who was also in the scene.
But there’s more to Elena under her cruel exterior. “Elena herself creates a character. That’s not who she really is,” Hayek explained in her emerald Gucci gown. “She has to psychologically detach herself from the character of Elena that everybody knows and keep this kind of humanity when nobody is watching.”
Savages opens in theaters July 6.