She is protrayed by Mexican American actress Salma Hayek.
Rita was secretly working as an entertainer in order find her missing husband scientist Professor Guillermo Escobar who was in fact kidnapped by Dr Arliss Loveless, a brilliant but venomously bigoted ex-Confederate scientist confined to a steam-powered wheelchair after losing his legs in a war. Rita is first seen at the Fat Can's saloon singing a song while posing as a prostitute. Later General Bloodbath McGrath looks at each one of the prostitutes that he apparently wanted to seduce. It look like he would choose Rita when she is suddenly shoved aside by another prostitute that turns out to be Artemus Gordon in disguise.
She later applied for a position as an entertainer for Dr Loveless at his mansion in New Orleans where he is hosting a party for the elite of Southern society. She begins to complain to Loveless's bodyguards Munitia, Amazonia and Miss Lippenrieder to not put her in a cage but they do so anyway telling her that she will enjoy it. She is later found and rescued by U.S. Marshall Artemus Gordon after he sneaks in Loveless's bedroom to find the missing scientists. Rita tells him that Loveless has them working down in the dungeon only for Gordon to mention that the dungeon has been cleared of its captives.
While escaping Loveless's home she meets Gordon's partner Jim West. Rita however explains to West and Gordon that she's not really an entertainer, but is looking for her father (secretly her husband) Guillermo Escobar. The trio heads to Malheureux Point where they find dozens of soilders dead. Gordon and Rita wonder what could have killed all the men and West relates a story he'd heard about a large, armored vehicle that killed all the residents of a freed slave community called New Liberty in Illinois, among the dead were West's family. A mortally wounded General Bloodbath McGrath somehow makes it to shore and tells West that Loveless is responsible for the deaths of his men and the people of New Liberty. He dies before he can tell West where Loveless has gone. Rita says that she'd overheard some of Loveless' women talking about the desert and a place called "OO-tah", which Gordon and West recognize as Utah (You can see in this scene that's she's inpersonating Lippenrieder). They make Coleman (the Wanderer's engineer) take them there immediately. They decide to leave Rita behind due to the danger (as they can not take her back home to Texas), but she gets inside the train anyway by using the train's gadgets. Rita tells West and Gordon that she overheard the foreign dignitaries discussing the Louisiana Purchase and Queen Isabella. She also flirts with West and Gordon. The men decide to take her along, despite the distraction she might create.
The next morning the Wanderer catches up to Loveless' train, but they lose the scientist when they pass through a tunnel. Loveless' train, equipped with huge hydraulic spider's legs, had been able to hide while the Wanderer passed it. Loveless' train then follows the Wanderer and opens fire on it. West tries to make use of "The Egressor" (a small rail-cart) that will allow him to board Loveless' train, but the cable attaching it breaks and he has to use Gordon's rubber rope. When one of Loveless' men attacks West, he uses a blade Gordon built into his shoe to kill the man. He stuffs the man's body in the train's smokestack, disabling it. Meanwhile, Loveless's henchwoman Munitia has stopped the Wanderer with a giant grappling missile. Rita now afraid to be re-captured by Loveless grabs a sleeping gas billard ball and locks herself and Gordon in a bathroom. When West boards the Wanderer, Rita assumes it's Loveless and knocks all three of them out with the billiard ball.
Rita is captured once again by Loveless who commandeers the Wanderer and strands Gordon and West by the cornfield after fitting them with metal collars that would make it impossible for them to escape. Meanwhile Loveless has a talk with Rita saying he has to confess that he's curious about how she winded up with Gordon and West. Rita tells him that if they seem so sure about how they would find him she thought if she stayed with them they bring her back to all her friends, she then tells him that she had "kinda missed" him. Loveless responds that kinda misses himself too as they have a drink with each other. Gordon and West later escape their death trap and pursue Loveless all the way to Spider Canyon where they find the Wanderer and see Loveless's ultimate weapon an 80-foot tall mechanical tarantula, fully armored and powered by coal and hydraulics. When a large group of rocks blocks it from moving, the contraption shoots giant fireballs, which destroy the rocks.
Loveless later captures Gordon and President Grant at Promintory Point in Utah while West is apparently killed by Munitia. At his industrial complex at Spider Canyon. Loveless announces his plan, the United States will be divided up among them and himself, with Spain, Great Britain, Mexico, and France having their former territorial claims to the continent restored. When Grant refuses to sign a surrender Loveless orders Gordon to be killed. Rita protests but Gordon tells her he is wearing a bulletproof chainmail. Before Gordon would be killed an exotic dancing girl, who turns out to be West (Who survived his death) in drag, appears and begins to tempt Loveless. West passes the tiny pistol to Gordon and activates a flamethrower built into the dress. Loveless orders West killed and he escapes to his mechanical spider with the president. West then rolls an incendiary 8-ball at Loveless' men, and Rita and her husband are able to escape with Rita telling West and Gordon to go rescue the president.
After Loveless's death, Grant tells West and Gordon that he's forming a new government presidential protection service called the Secret Service. West and Gordon are agents One and Two. He also takes the Wanderer to return to Washington, leaving West and Gordon to use Loveless' spider. Rita appears and thanks them for everything they ever done for her before she goes back home to Texas. Both West and Gordon make claims they want to court her but she reveals to them that Professor Escobar is not her father, but is her husband. She leaves with him telling West and Gordon that at least they still have each other.
Wild Wild West music video
Salma Hayek reprises her role in the Will Smith music video which serves as a theme song to the film. Rita and Jim West appeared to be in a relationship as the video opens with West awakening in bed with Rita. West was sweating from a nightmare he had so Rita leaves to get him a towel but as she opens the cupboard it is filled with spiders one of whom hisses at her making her scream and alerting West that Rita is in distress. He leaves the bed to investigate but finds her gone and the window opened. It is apparent that a villian resembling Dr Loveless had captured Rita.
Midway through the video, West later finds Loveless's industrial complex and rescues Rita. After jumping out the window and rolling safely on the ground, Rita takes West's hat off presumably to kiss him.