Salma Hayek details secret, near-fatal COVID battle

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 26:  Salma Hayek poses at the
Salma Hayek spent seven weeks isolated in a room during a secret, near-fatal COVID battle. Part of the time, she was on oxygen. (Photo: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Salma Hayek reveals she had a secret, near-fatal COVID-19 battle.

While the actress's social media feed gave no indication anything was amiss, she actually had a serious health scare and it's had lasting effects. In a new interview with Variety, Hayek revealed she's spent most of the past year recovering from COVID, which she contracted during the early days of the pandemic.

"My doctor begged me to go to the hospital because it was so bad," the 54-year-old star revealed. "I said, 'No, thank you. I’d rather die at home'"

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Hayek spent seven weeks isolated in a room of the London home she shares with her husband, billionaire businessman François-Henri Pinault, and their 13-year-old daughter, Valentina.

During her battle, she was placed on oxygen at one point. She told the magazine she still hasn't fully recovered, noting that her energy levels aren't where they used to be.

In April, she returned to acting — in Ridley Scott's House of Gucci, which filmed in Italy. She plays Pina Auriemma, a clairvoyant convicted of helping Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) plot to kill her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver).

She said it was "the perfect job to just get back into it" because it didn't require a lengthy time on the set. She said before that, just doing Zooms — a must as she helms her own production company, Ventanarosa — would leave her "so tired" due to lingering effects. (Hayek has Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard and Eternals out this year.)

Also in the interview, Hayek talked about the December 2017 essay she wrote about being sexually harassed and bullied by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.

She said it took her a long time to write it and tell her story "because I chose not to be a victim even though I was a victim. I had to convince myself that I’m a fighter and above all else, a survivor. When all this happened with the Harvey story" — he was first accused of sexual misconduct in October 2017 and it opened a floodgate of accusers — "I didn’t know that it happened to so many women. I went into such a depression for months. It really took an army of women to make me see I was true survivor, and a true fighter."

Hayek said that she actually wasn't sure she'd share the essay with anyone, not thinking people would want to hear her experience.

"I kept saying, 'Who wants to hear my story? Why am I giving myself self-importance?'" she said. "They had been asking me for it from the beginning, but I put it down on paper just for me."

She said she got through that time with support from Pinault, though admitted he was "shocked" she hadn't fully detailed her Weinstein experience to him earlier.

"A lot of people were upset with me," she said. "Friends were upset with me that I didn’t tell them what really happened. Then I thought, I have to do it. Afterwards, a lot of people wrote to me. A lot from the industry said, 'This happened to me.'"

Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence on counts of sexual assault and rape in a state prison near Buffalo, N.Y. In April, he filed an appeal. He's also awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to face an additional 11 counts that carry a potential sentence of 140 years.

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