Interview with Penelope Cruz

Penelope talks about working with Woody Allen, her lesbian kiss and her new musical Nine with Daniel Day Lewis

Sexy senorita Penelope Cruz is the envy of men and women across the globe
right now. Not only is she classed as one of the most beautiful women in the world -she also gets to kiss one.
Penelope can be seen cranking up the heat when her fiery character Maria Elena enjoys a ménage a trois with blonde beauty Scarlett Johansson and Spanish co-star Javier Bardem, in the Woody Allen flick Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She
is currently filming the very ambitous musical ‘Nine’ which also stars
Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Judy Dench, and
Sophia Loren.

Q: Woody Allen talked about the arguments that you had with Javier in Spanish, scenes where you’re arguing with Javier in Spanish, he had no idea what you were saying, until you
went back to his, to edit the film, and get someone who could translate
what you were saying. How freeing is it for you as an actress to be
able to do stuff like that, without even worrying or caring what the director thinks?

“No, he cares a lot but he was trusting us, you know, he was trusting all the actors to improvise sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish, he didn’t do it only with the Spanish, sometimes he would say okay, now with this, and just turn it around and you know what’s the message that the character’s has to send of course, but just use the words that you think she would use in that moment, so once in awhile he would do that or he would ask for us to, he said, do what you think Magdalena would do going back from the English to the Spanish, whenever you feel it’s natural, and I did a lot of swearing and (laughter) sometimes too much and I was a little bit worried about what he was going to think when he discovers some of (laughter) the things that were said, and then, but we did no looping, there was no ADR, so I think he was happy. And normally he does just a couple of takes I mean sometimes if he doesn’t get it, he will do up to five or seven but the median is two, sometimes just two takes, check the gate, and you’re doing a scene that is five pages of dialogue, and it’s for one shot, there is no coverage, and he knows exactly, I mean you have to be very secure you know, and he knows exactly what he wants, he has the whole movie, the whole map in his head.”

So would you ever say, I want to do it again? Did you ever say, can I do it
one more time? When you were shooting takes?

“Every single time (laughter). I drove him crazy with that (laughter). The last day I think he run out of patience because he was so sweet and so kind and he always said yes to one more take, (laughter) but the last take, the last day, I really, I could not stop because it was the end, and it was a difficult scene, and I said, please one more, okay, do it one more, and then we finished the last take and we were going to check the gate, I think it was like the scene before last, before ending the movie, and he was nowhere in sight, (laughter) we said, okay, cut, and I was looking for Woody and he was hiding from me (laughter).”


You and Javier have a relationship that has gone on for many years in the picture that we don’t see, did you guys work on a backstory together?

“You mean Juan Antonio and Magdalena? What happens to them before the movie? It’s all what Woody does with the actors, you know, and he’s very open to whatever method the actors can have, very respectful, but sometimes I would go up to Woody with a book of notes on the past of Magdalena (laughter) and he would laugh at me but not in a mean way, he’s very respectful, but I had like, I’d drawn monsters and things and all the past (laughs) of what happened when Magdalena was told she was a genius, and who told her that, and how that ruined her, and how that has made her live for so many years stuck in this victim role, because she thinks she’s too special to be happy and she thinks that she stops suffering, she won’t be as talented, because she needs to be the tortured artist and self destructive.

So I had a whole thing about all these theories, and he would look at it and let me ask you this, over the notes, he said, I think it’s great that you do this, but really, things are going very well, I think you don’t need to, (laughter) and but he’s so charming and adorable and kind, and…”

Woody Allen actually wrote this for you in a way didn’t he?
“I don’t know…”

He said in a recent interview that you heard he was going to make a film in Barcelona and you wanted to be involved and he kind of thought of you when creating this character, are you surprised by that?
“He has to tell me that story because I don’t know (laughter). I think my agent called him and said, we heard you’re shooting in Spain, do you want to meet Penelope because she would love to work with you, something like that happened, and then we met in New York and we had a forty second meeting…”

Forty seconds?
“Yes, (laughter) and somebody, he told me I saw Volver, and I loved it, and I’m writing something, and if it keeps going in this dircction, it could be great for you. So I’ll let you know in a few weeks. (laughter) Thank you very much. (laughter)


There is no bullshit with Woody which I love, you know, he’s like, he did say good morning, it’s very nice to meet you, and as soon as I started getting to the, oh my god, I loved Deconstructing Harry, (laughter) I love all the movies, he said, mmmm, no, he’s so honest, he’s the most honest person I know, somebody asked him in Cannes about a country, I’m not going to (unidentified words), but somebody asked him about a country and he didn’t like, the time he spent in the country, and he told us the funniest story, it’s so honest, I mean you always feel like, did he really say that, and he’s like that all the time and I mean that meeting, but I left him, and I left the meeting smiling, because I thought he was really himself and really honest and charming and when I said I would love to work with you, he said well of course.(laughter)t


Then a month later, I was in Paris and I got this phone call and said Woody wants you to make the movie, and I was very, very happy, and happier when I read the script and I said oh my god, he’s giving me such a treasure, you know, this is such a really beautiful character, and complicated and with a subject that I’m very, very interested about and with somebody that is very, emotionally very unstable and I wanted to explore that and try to understand Magdelena’s reality and not just play her like a crazy person, and she’s defending her reality, you know, and for her is equally important as the one of the person in front of her and I wanted to do it from there.”

How are you preparing to play in Rob Marshall’s new musical ‘Nine’?
“God, I am so excited, about the movie. I did many auditions for the movie, singing and dancing and I trained for seventeen years, dancing in my life and now I can get to use it in a movie and I love the character and will be singing many hours a day and training and we’re going to record with an orchestra and I think that’s going to be an amazing experience for me because I love music.”

What is your singing voice like?
“They say it’s good and they gave me the part so now I have to do it (laughter). But I have to work very hard, we’re going to be training very hard, I’ve already been taking lessons but now it’s going to be many, many hours a day.”

What do you think about your character? Do you have something in

“I don’t ask myself that question, I just try to understand her and go from there, you know, and try not to judge her and that’s what I try with all the characters. By the way, when I said that about the singing, I said they think I sing, I meant Rob Marshall, and the people that have given me the character. That’s who I mean by them.”

Do you sing one song in the movie, or more than one?
“More than one.”

Did you see the original play?
“Yes, I saw the play, Eight and a Half is one of my favorite movies of all time, because Nine is based on Eight and a Half, and I love Carla, I love this character.”

But you have a very, very huge cast for that movie. I think Daniel Day
Lewis is in it?

“Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Judy Dench, Sophia Loren…”

But who’s playing the director?

“Daniel Day Lewis.”

When do you actually start filming? I mean do you go straight into that
right now in the rehearsals and…

“I have to promote both movies, Elegy, and Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and then I go into the rehearsals for Nine, in London”.



Vicki Cristina Barcelona is at Irish Cinemas everywhere now