Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek is channeling the happiness in her personal life into comedies such as "Here Comes the Boom," scheduled to hit U.S. theaters Friday, and says that at age 46 she has left her "melodramatic" phase behind and now prefers to make people laugh.

"Maybe before it was harder for me to make people laugh. Now it's the opposite. It's hard to cry. The truth is I'm very happy to be happy," the actress, married since 2009 to French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault and mother to their five-year-old daughter, Valentina, told Efe in an interview.

"When I was young, I was much more melodramatic. As an actress, there were times I even enjoyed pain, suffering a little. Well, I didn't enjoy it, but I had an inclination toward melodrama. I was good at making people cry. Now, when I have a character that suffers, where you have to (do some soul-searching), I can do it no problem, but I prefer making comedies," Hayek said.

In "Here Comes the Boom," budget cuts threaten the cancellation of a high school music program until a bored biology teacher, Scott Voss (Kevin James), begins to raise the needed $48,000 by becoming a mixed martial arts fighter.

Hayek plays the role of Bella Flores, the school nurse who becomes Voss's main source of support.

Hayek also worked with James and another Hollywood star, Adam Sandler, in the 2010 hit buddy comedy "Grown Ups" and has just finished filming the sequel.

"What I most like about them is their ability to improvise," she said. "I don't have to learn my lines perfectly because I know they can change. They let me be creative. They listen to me, they ask my opinion and I know they're my partners during the scenes. That's great and difficult to find."

Her character in "Here Comes the Boom" is a far cry from the sexy roles she played in films like "Desperado" and "From Dusk Till Dawn" and even other more recent pictures such as "Americano," in which she portrays a prostitute and stripper.

"As a nurse at a high school, there's no reason to be sexy. In fact, if you have that role, you have to be a little careful and" err on the side of modesty, Hayek told Efe. EFE