Eva Mendes—the gorgeous star of Training Day, Hitch, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Ghost Rider, and most recently the brilliant We Own the Night featuring Mark Wahlberg and our old friend Joaquin Phoenix—is also the new face of our winter anti-fur campaign. Once you’ve had a long look at this stunning new anti-fur ad, take a deep breath and check out what Eva had to say when she sat down with us for this PETA Files exclusive interview about what led her to speak out about the cruel treatment of animals in the fur industry:
How did you come to get involved with helping animals? Did you have any animal companions growing up?
I love animals, but I hadn’t had a pet since I was a kid. I recently got a dog and he’s not only made me a happier girl—he’s made me much more sympathetic to animal rights. I look at my beautiful dog and think, “Of course I’d never eat him or skin him for his fur, so why would I be okay with eating a cow or wearing a cheetah?” It’s just not right. It’s a contradiction.
Do you have any animals? Can you tell us about them?
I recently got the most beautiful dog in the world! He’s the sweetest thing ever. He’s fully trained and all his commands are in French. Too cute! So I’m learning French and he’s learning Spanish!
What drew you to the idea of working with PETA on our “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” Campaign?
I wasn’t familiar with PETA early in my career. I remember having my first premiere in New York City and being so naive that I didn’t have a coat with me. My stylist sent me a fur wrap for the evening and I ignorantly wore it.
PETA then wrote me a beautiful letter commenting on my less-than-educated choice. I was so impressed that I vowed to them and myself to never wear real fur on the red carpet or in my life again.
As a fashion icon in Hollywood, do you find that people put pressure on you to wear fur on the red carpet? If so, how do you handle that?
A lot of the high-end designers are unfortunately still big on fur, but I simply let them know that I won’t wear it on the red carpet or for photo shoots. People are pretty respectful and don’t try to pressure me to wear fur (smart for them … haha).
Can you tell us about the projects you are working on right now and also about your film We Own The Night?
We Own The Night is a crime thriller set in the late 1980s about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. I play the girlfriend of Joaquin Phoenix, a manager for a club involved with the Russian Mafia, whose brother (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a cop targeting the Mafia for drug involvement. It’s a great cast, and it was such a thrill to play opposite actors like Joaquin, Mark, and Robert Duvall. I’ve also just finished filming The Women, which was very cool, and I’m just starting a really amazing project called The Spirit.
What issue involving animals is dearest to your heart? Also, you have a lot of fans out there which gives you a powerful platform to reach people and make a difference: What is your message to them about having compassion and getting active to help animals?
I’d say the closest animal rights issue to me right now is being anti-fur. I feel like in recent years, due to pop culture, fur has made a comeback. Some people still see wearing fur as glamorous and a sign of prosperity. Personally I think wearing a baby chinchilla says, “I’m ignorant,” vs. saying “I’m a badass.” I don’t think you can force people to change their attitudes, but you can help to educate them and to lead by example. … There are way too many amazing faux fur options out there for people to still be wearing real fur. I want people to know that there are options; that killing a poor animal and wearing it isn’t cool. But respecting all life forms is cool. Very cool.