General facts and figures
- Full name: Eva de la Caridad Méndez
- Net Worth: $15 million
- Occupation: Actor
- Birthday: 5 March 1974 (age 45 years)
- Birthplace: Miami, Florida
- Birth Sign: Pisces
- Marital status: in relation with Ryan Gosling
Trivia: Mendes starred in a Steven Seagal action thriller called Exit Wounds (2001). One of the earlier films in her career, Mendes said she discovered her voice had been dubbed in the film. When asked why she had been dubbed, the producer simply replied saying it was to make her sound “smarter”.
- Mendes was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents, Eva Pérez Suárez and Juan Carlos Méndez. She was raised as a Roman Catholic by her mother after her parents divorced and even considered becoming a Catholic nun.
- Her first acting role was among a group of youngsters who get lost somewhere in middle-America. The film was a direct-to-video horror flick called Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror.
- Her breakthrough role was in the 2002 film Training Day, in which she starred alongside Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
- Another breakthrough role for her was that of Will Smith’s love interest in the blockbuster hit, Hitch (2005).
- She met her partner, fellow actor Ryan Gosling, on the sets of The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), in which both shared space. The couple has two daughters.
Mendes was born in Miami, Florida on 5 March 1974, to a Cuban family. Her parents, Eva Pérez Suárez and Juan Carlos Méndez, got divorced fairly early in Mendes’ childhood and she was raised in Los Angeles’ Silverlake area by her mother. Mendes has an older brother, an older sister and a younger half-brother from her father’s second marriage. Mendes lost her older brother, Juan Carlos Mendez, to throat cancer in 2017. He was 53.
Mendes has described her childhood as one spent in a “poor, lower-middle-class” household. In an interview, she described buying her mother a townhouse for all the years of hardship and labor she put into raising her and her siblings. Mendes watched Annie (1982) around the age of seven and imagined becoming an actress and living a different life — one where she could afford more luxuries.
She went to Hoover High School in Glendale and had enrolled in the California State University, Northridge to study marketing but did not finish the program in order to pursue a career in acting.
Mendes’ career began quite serendipitously. She posed for a few photographs for her neighbor, who was trying to put together a portfolio. When he was showing the portfolio around, a manager asked about the girl in the photo, and that is how Mendes forayed into films. She started out with a few commercials, then landed several music videos, like Will Smith’s Miami and Aerosmith’s Hole in My Soul. Her first acting role in a film was in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998). This was followed by a flurry of fiction thrillers like Mortal Kombat: Konquest (1998), A Night at the Roxbury (1998), My Brother the Pig (1999) and Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000).
Mendes described her performances in these films as “terrible” and enrolled for acting classes with Ivana Chubbuck, who continued to be her acting coach for many years into her acting career.
Her breakthrough performance was in Training Day (2001), opposite Denzel Washington. Mendes has said the film was pivotal to her career as it encouraged her to persist in an acting career at a time she was feeling “bored” doing “terrible cheesy horrible films”. The film put her on the mop and the following year she starred in All About the Benjamins, an action-comedy in which she played the love interest of a con artist.
In 2003, she had four releases that were backed by big studios. These films were all commercial successes and established Mendes as a Hollywood actress. These films were Out of Time, in which she reunited with Washington; in 2 Fast 2 Furious with Paul Walker; in Once Upon a Time in Mexico with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek; and in Stuck on You with Matt Damon.
‘Hitch’ a Ride
In 2005, Mendes starred opposite Will Smith in the romantic comedy film, Hitch. The film did record-breaking numbers at the box office and is one of the few films with PoC (persons of color) leads to see this kind of success.
The film opened up more avenues for Mendes. She was always recognized for her beauty and sex appeal and Hitch only ensured that her beauty was made more visible. Cosmopolitan called her its ‘Fun Fearless Female of the Year’ in 2007. She also became the face of Calvin Klein and appeared in magazine spreads looking her stunning self. That year, Maxim put her nude on their cover and Shape magazine declared that she has the “sexiest body in Hollywood”.
In terms of acting opportunities, the film opened her up to several other projects. She starred in The Wendell Baker Story (2005), Trust the Man (2006), Ghost Rider (2007) and We Own the Night (2007).
She also starred in the all-female comedy The Women (2008), along with Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith. Mendes essayed the role of a perfume salesgirl in Saks Fifth Avenue. While the film did well commercially, it was met with critical dismissal. In fact, all five women were also nominated for a ‘Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress’, a humorous award function organized each year. However, Paris Hilton took the crown that year, for her performance in The Hottie and the Nottie.
Some of the other roles Mendes took on in this phase of her career include The Spirit (2008), The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009), The Other Guys (2010), Fast Five (2011) and Girl in Progress (2012).
Singing and Other Business Ventures
Mendes has lent her singing voice to a few different projects. She sang in a song called Pimps Don’t Cry, from her own film The Other Guys (2010). She performed the same song with CeeLo Green as a duet. She also recorded a version of The Windmills of Your Mind, originally sung by Noel Harrison for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), for a commercial for Angel perfume (in which she starred herself). But before all the fame, she also lent her voice to the single Miami, by Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, in 1991.
Mendes also has her own line of bed linens and dinnerware which is available at Macy’s. She launched her own fashion line in 2013, in partnership with New York & Co. The line is called Eva by Eva Mendes. She also happens to be the creative director of CIRCA Beauty, a makeup brand which launched at Walgreens in 2015.
Her endorsements are also a big part of her career. She became the face of Revlon in 2005 and has also posed in the nude for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) anti-fur campaign.
Personal Life and Challenges
In 2008, Mendes checked into Utah’s Cirque Lodge for rehab. While the facility, famous for treating the likes of Lindsay Lohan, specializes in treating substance abuse, what Mendes checked in for has not been made public. This phase in her life came alongside her success at the movies and Mendes’ spokesperson said she needed time off to attend to some personal issues that were “not critical” but required “outside professional support”.
Towards the end of this decade, Mendes’ long-term relationship with filmmaker George Augusto ended. In 2011, she started dating her current partner Ryan Gosling, whom she met on the sets of The Place Beyond the Pines. In 2014, the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Esmeralda Amada Gosling. Two years later, the couple welcomed their second daughter, Amada Lee. A report in Us Weekly alleged that the couple had secretly tied the knot in that year, but there has been no word from the couple or their representatives to confirm this news.
Mendes’ last theatrical release was in 2014. She has since taken a hiatus from films to be at home with her children and focus on her family life. There has been no clarity about Mendes’ return to the big screen, but she surely has her business ventures and projects that keep her busy apart from her two daughters. She has said she needed “something special” to take her away from her kids and so far, no such compelling project has come knocking at her door.
Mendes is still regarded as a public figure, despite her reclusive personality. She likes to stay away from the limelight but her brand commitments and her makeup and fashion line compel her to make appearances and be visible, even if she is not actively participating in the movies. She maintains that her goal, from an early age, has been to take care of her mother and to pay her bills. No matter what her income is or what she chooses to pursue next, her priority will remain her mother and her family.