Cannes Video: Salma Hayek Talks Turning Philosophy Into Animation for 'The Prophet'

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the voice actor and producer to chat about the animated film, based on the 1923 best-selling book by Kahlil Gibran.

Salma Hayek hit the Cannes Film Festival to present a work-in-progress screening of The Prophet, based on Kahlil Gibran's philosophical novel. To share the story of the 1923 best-seller, director Roger Allers worked with Tomm Moore, Joan C. Gratz, Joann Sfar, Bill Plympton, Paul and Gaetan Brizzi, Michal Socha, Nina Paley and Mohammed Saeed Harib, as each helmed a different thematic section of the animated film.

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"We have nine directors that have worked on this project, really hard, and we have amazing voices in this too, amazing actors," she told The Hollywood Reporter at Restaurant Fouquet's Cannes of the voice cast, featuring Hayek with Liam Neeson, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina and Quvenzhane Wallis.

She added, "Everybody that became involved in the film has been touched by the book, and I can tell you, they did not do it for the money! It's been quite a journey because usually, animation takes five years, and we did it in two." The project was first announced in 2012.

The Prophet tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a young, mischievous girl and an imprisoned poet and features meditations on subjects such as love, work, freedom and marriage. Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared led the film's music, which includes cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma and original songs by Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan and Glen Hansard.

"My grandfather kept the book by the side of his table, so I know the cover of this book by heart, and it reminds me of him," said Hayek. "I read it, and to me, it was like my grandfather was talking to me about life and teaching me about life through this book. I got to discover a lot about him after he was gone."

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Turning a philosophy book into an animated film is ambitious, but Hayek said, "It is actually really entertaining! It doesn't feel preachy at all; it's fun." And of diving into the animation landscape as a producer, she noted, "It's a completely new world, so I've learned so much. But every time, there's a point in each project when I say, 'Never, never again, for sure!' and right now, I'm pretty much at this point."

So what's her secret for surviving Cannes? "I bring my family, and it keeps me grounded, inspires me, gives me moments of tenderness. I feel loved and supported, and it's a piece of real life that is with me at all times, in the middle of the madness of Cannes."

The Prophet is produced by Hayek, Clark Peterson, Jose Tamez and Ron Senkowski. Watch THR's interview with Hayek above.