Thesp warms to mature men

A couple of weeks ago, Penelope Cruz was “stressed” about the Gotham Awards. Not because she’s being honored — that was a “nice surprise” — but because “you have to write a long speech, and I don’t have anything down yet.”

IFP will recognize the thesp’s career in Spanish- and English-language films, including her most recent work on Isabel Coixet’s “Elegy” and Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” as well as her Pedro Almodovar-helmed films, which won over Allen.

After seeing Cruz in “Volver,” Allen offered her “Vicky.” It wasn’t until she arrived on set that she became “a little bit nervous” about working with the director.

“I hadn’t seen Woody since we met in New York about (the project), and it was very short,” Cruz says. “I was with him for five minutes.”

But just as she felt “connected” to Ben Kingsley on the set of “Elegy,” she also developed a camaraderie with Allen, who made her “laugh a lot” especially during the kissing scene with Scarlett Johansson. “The funny thing about that day was that all of Woody’s attention was on a new stain on his hand and it wasn’t on us at all,” Cruz laughs. “He was so worried that he left the set to go to the doctor, but when he came back, he was still focusing on his hand even though the dermatologist said it was nothing. He’s hilarious.”

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