Two years ago, 'Mummy, The (1999)' became a surprise global blockbuster, eventually earning over $415 million. Now, the legacy of a 3,000 year-old curse has returned to threaten nosey antiquarians Rick and Evelyn O'Connell (Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz) and assorted villains and adventurers - along with box office records, in the shape of 'Mummy Returns, The (2001). ' The sequel also reunites the original characters of Imhotep, played by Arnold Vosloo, and Anck-Su-Namun, his sexy lover played by Venezuelan modelling superstar Patricia Velasquez.
It's easy to see why the 29-year-old Latina beauty got the role. In person, she's tall and curvaceous, with long brown hair and skin the color of honey. Here, Velasquez, who's wearing a tan and white leather jacket over skin tight black jeans that show off her exotic looks and figure to perfection, talks candidly
about her on-screen catfight with Rachel and subsequent health scare, growing up poor in an apartment with no running water, and the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle of a supermodel.
You must be thrilled as you get a much bigger role in the sequel?
Yeah, it's a much bigger role, as I also play Meela, the modern reincarnation of my Egyptian character. I was so happy when they called me.
Did you enjoy playing the bad girl?
It was great, but for me it's really a love story. They really want to be together. Everyone can relate to that.
You and Rachel have this amazing catfight. How tough was that to do?
The hardest thing I had to do in the whole film was the big fight scene I have with Rachel. The training we did was insane, boxing with martial arts. We both trained for 3 months, sometimes 7 or 8 hours a day, and I did all my own stunts - including the jumps and the splits - except one. I used to be a dancer, and for me it was a really good combination of dance and acting. At the start we were both a bit shy about hurting each other, but by the end we were really going for it. (Shows her hands) See, I'm still covered in little scars!
Did you get hurt badly at all?
I actually ended up in hospital for 3 days, I was so tired. It was weird, and they don't know this, but I've been to the doctor 3 times and they've been checking my heart because I pushed it so much. But I'd totally do it again. Supposedly there was this cyst that grew in the last 2 months we were training, and then right
after we did the fight the cyst burst, and I ended up in The Courtland in London.
How was it?
(Laughs) You can't stay anywhere else after that place! It's like a super 6-star hospital where the Queen goes. They have amazing room service, newspapers and magazines in the morning - I have never seen anything like it. The food was so good this friend of mine would go there just to eat!
Tell us about your background. Are you pure Indian?
No, I'm half Indian. My mother is Indian from a village called Wayu, and my Dad is Venezuelan, and he's a mix of Indian and Spanish.
What did you inherit from your mother?
My spirituality and sense of work, along with family values.
What about your Dad?
Definitely my desire for knowledge and love of reading, and his sense of honesty. Always work hard, be honest, and be proud of who you are. That's what I learned.
How did you start modelling and then acting?
I began dancing when I was just 5, and I never really wanted to become an actress because it's what every other model does. But then I did my first one with Jean Reno and completely fell in love with it. That film was all about saving an Indian village in the Amazon, and because I'm a South American Indian and I have a foundation for the Indians, I thought, 'I have to do this. ' So I went to the Amazon for 3 months and it completely changed me. And when I came back, I kept modelling, but after 2 or 3 years I realized acting was what I wanted to do, and then when I did my little part in the first 'Mummy' I had no idea it'd be such a huge hit everywhere. For me it was more like a modelling job because I had to put on all this special body makeup that took 13 hours to do.
Is it true you grew up with no running water?
Completely. It was this little town, and I thought, 'If I can bring home $30 a month, that'll pay for water for the whole building. ' So that's how I got into modelling. I actually thought it was very superficial, as my parents are teachers and I grew up in that sort of environment. And most models get into acting mainly because of ego. They think, 'What can I do now to keep the same lifestyle and be the center of attention?' And that's not the right reason for going into acting.
Supermodels usually live wild lives. So just how wild were you? Didi you do tons of drugs and party all night?
(Laughs) OK, I've been very wild, but I've never really been the sort of person who goes that crazy! There was a time when I used to live in Spain that it went really crazy with drugs and stuff like that. One time I went to Ibiza and it was just crazy that night. We took so much stuff, and in the morning I arrived at the hotel and I was supposed to go back to Madrid, and I said, 'I'm not going. I'm staying. ' And that day I got a call to do my first cover and to work with this big, big client in Spain, and I felt so bad. I was like, 'What are you doing? Your family is living in Venezuela with no water and this is the way you're behaving?' So,
never again. Thank God I had all these family values or who knows where I'd be now.
Are you married?
No, no kids either. But I have 8 nieces and nephews, so I can take them to see this film.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Not right now. I travel too much. I live in New York and I was only there for 2 weeks all last year. Before, I used to have relationships all the time. Then I realized about 2 years ago that I was having them for the wrong reason. It was more like a security thing. You need a routine, to be able to spend some time
with a person, and my lifestyle is constantly on the move. I was in Venezuela two days ago, then I'm off to Spain and Miami next week and so on.
What do you look for in a man?
Anything that isn't macho.
So that cuts out all Latin America men?
(Laughs) No, my brothers are so not like that and so are many men. I think if I could have a boyfriend like my brothers I'd be really happy. But without the brother thing.
Don't you ever worry that because you travel so much, and don't have time for a relationship, one day you'll wake up and feel really lonely?
No, not at all. First, I have my whole family, and I have great friends too. And I know that I'll have kids at some point. I want to have 2 and adopt 2 as well. So I'm not worried. I'll do it in 2 years, 3 years. Who knows. God knows. He'll bring it to me when it's right.
There are all these rumours that you had an affair with [Sandra Bernhard. Are they true?]
Everyone talks about Sandra. Look, she was a very, very important person in my life - and she still is. She was a friend, she was like a mother to me, and also like my daughter sometimes. I had no idea who she was when we first met in France. She came to do a
show and we became really good friends. People say many things, but at the end of the day people can say what they want. Sandra is somebody that I have in my heart forever, because I didn't even speak English when I met her, and she taught me so much. I didn't even know what a credit card was, or frequent flier cards or any of that stuff. She really, really helped me.
Do you ever miss those modelling days?
Sometimes. I enjoyed working as a model a lot as it let me travel and I got to do some really interesting projects. But now it's about me instead of the clothes.
Your career's going great now, but you must have had some low points?
Yes, but it gave me a lot of strength too. My parents used to work for UNESCO and we were living really well at first. I spent my early childhood with them in Paris, and then we lived in Mexico, and then when we moved back to Venezuela my father's contract finished and the situation got very difficult. That's
when we ended up living on the 15th floor of this apartment block with no water, for 13 years. The elevators never worked so you had to carry water up and so on. But one thing we all got was a really good education. And we became survivors. Then as a model, my career went quite slowly, even though I always evetually got the good jobs. So when I first came to L. A. , I felt really guilty to be driving around in a convertible. But then I thought, 'I've paid my dues, I'm a survivor. ' So struggling for work here has been very good for me, but it's also been very hard to handle rejection. There are only so many roles for people like me, and I don't have a big name yet.
What do you spend your money on? Are you a shopaholic?
(Laughs) No, no, no, I hate shopping. If I need something, even a pair of socks, my assistant has to get them for me. I hate shopping! No, I spend my money on huge phone bills. For the past 12 years my life has been travelling and living away from the ones I love, and now I live in New York. So I call my mother every day in Venezuela, and I speak to my Dad and brothers and sisters. I also go back to see them a lot, whenever I have the time. Clothes, thank God I can get them from designers.
What's your biggest turn-on?
(Laughs) Latin music! If you put that on you can keep me up all night!