Special Feature: Eva Mendes talks 'Place Beyond the Pines'

She takes art classes, she meditates, and as a child wanted to be a nun. The fact that Eva Mendes counters these characteristics by living up to the tag of being one of the world's most glamorous actresses, as well as being an ambassador for brands as diverse as Magnum ice cream, Calvin Klein and Pantene, leads us to suppose this must be someone completely comfortable in her own versatile image; true or false? For a star who pulls off glamorous - whether in a flowing white dress or a figure-hugging black number - with such aplomb, it's something of a surprise to see the supremely talented Mendes cast as Romina, a single mother beaten by life's experiences in The Place Beyond the Pines (2013).

There are no pearl necklaces or high-heeled shoes on show with Mendes. "I like to move outside my comfort zone, definitely," she begins. "I think, as an actress, you have to. What's the point of always taking glamorous roles? You're not showing anything that people don't already know. "As a society, we're probably a little bit obsessed with thinking of celebrities in a certain way, so I always want to work to change that - it's important to me." While her latest role as The Place Beyond the Pines' Romina - which hits cinemas in the UK on 12 April - sees Mendes more in baggy jeans and t-shirts than white dresses, the 39-year-old has nevertheless worked a reputation for looking stunning on the red carpet.

"I want people to think I look nice, like any other woman on the planet," Mendes continues. "But the way I dress and the way I look is really for my own benefit. I see the red carpet thing as a by-product of the industry. Do I like the fanfare? Not really. The red carpet is a place I don't want to hang around on, and I certainly don't want to pander to paparazzi telling me to turn around, move my head or anything else. I begrudgingly accept that it's all part of this mad world though." Has fashion always been important to the actress? "Yes, I think so, but I don't let it define who I am. I think fashion should help enhance who you are by giving you the belief and the confidence to step forward."

So what, according to Mendes, is the secret to staying in the sort of great shape that seems to make strolling down the red carpet a faultless operation? "Well I think you have to be careful what you wear. Know yourself and know what looks good. I do like patterned dresses, but you can get so much out of a plain, uncomplicated dress too by accessorising it in a smart way. Other than that, there is no secret - apart from lemon and hot water every morning!"

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