The 50-year-old Mexican beauty went to audition for a role in a film for the 'Twins' filmmaker, but despite claiming she was originally told the lead part would be altered to suit her native language, her representatives were later told they'd be "crazy" if they thought they would accommodate her for anything other than a "bimbo" part.
Speaking to the Observer Magazine, the actress said: "I've never said this to anyone, the name of the director, but it was Ivan Reitman.
"I was screen-testing for the lead in a film and they said that it was not written Latin, but they wouldn't mind changing it.
"I learned the script but when they sent me the pages for the audition there was none of the things I had learned, it was another role.
"So my agent called them and they said, 'Are you crazy? She's Mexican. We can change the race of the bimbo, but not the lead'.
"And they said 'Absolutely under no circumstances'. So I said, 'OK, you tell them that they either see, or I'm going to sue them'.
"And they said 'There's no point in her coming, even if she had been the best audition she would have never gotten the part... but now we hate her. Does she want to come knowing that we detest her?' "
Hayek hinted the film could have been 'Six Days, Seven Nights' - which featured Anne Heche as a style magazine journalist opposite David Schwimmer and Harrison Ford as her love interests - because she explained the argument escalated after the filmmaker was unable to believe a Mexican could be a "fashion editor".
She said: "I thought that the director that could see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin and Arnold Schwarzenegger giving birth to a child [in 'Junior'] maybe could see a Mexican as a fashion editor.
"I thought I owed it to the new generation of Mexicans. That if I got this right, maybe something will shift."
Despite getting off to a bad start, the actress bumped into the filmmaker years after and he apologised.
Hayek said: "We had such a lovely conversation. He was so elegant. He said 'I was wrong'."