×

Penelope Cruz, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’

Allen's impromptu approach works for Spaniard

In Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” actress Penelope Cruz found herself working in unfamiliar territory.

“Woody doesn’t like rehearsals,” Cruz explains by phone from London, where she’s working on Rob Marshall’s drama “Nine” alongside Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis. “We had a meeting for the movie in New York, and then I didn’t see him again until he said, ‘Action.'”

Yet the process was invigorating for Cruz, who says she was able to cut loose on a character that was probably better served with such a spontaneous approach.

“It doesn’t leave time for the kind of self-judgment you feel while acting,” she says. “I think that’s one of Woody’s strategies. It’s a little calculated, and I think it works. I love this system of working. And you know you are in the hands of someone you can trust 100%.”

In the film, Cruz plays Maria Elena, Javier Bardem’s firecracker artist ex-girlfriend who steps into the narrative halfway through and leaves an impression, to say the least. Though the opportunity was certainly there to chew the scenery and enjoy the ride, Cruz says she was concerned with finding a truth to Maria Elena’s erratic nature.

“I didn’t just want to play her crazy because that is a very general concept,” Cruz says. “She’s very unstable and extremely emotional, but she’s somebody that’s very trapped in her own head. She was told as a little girl that she was a genius, and I feel like she has believed since she was very young that she has to keep torturing herself to be special. That is her reality, and she defends that. In a way, she’s her own worst enemy.”

Moving between the drama of “Elegy” and the comedy of “Vicky” this year, Cruz, who is reteaming with fellow Spaniard Pedro Almodovar in the upcoming “Broken Embraces,” makes it clear that both styles of performing require equal commitment.

“I don’t think comedy is lighter, and I don’t think it is easier,” she says. “I think the timing of comedy is tricky, and you have to be so precise and you have to be aware of that timing. Woody Allen is great at that. He’s one of the masters of laughing at human confusion. When the characters are suffering, the characters can laugh.”

Favorite film this year “I don’t know how I could say anything because all the movies haven’t been released yet.”

Best advice “Not to read about yourself in the press.”

Inspiration “Right now, the great Italian actresses: Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, etc.”

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita' Inching Past 'Lego Movie 2' at Presidents Day Weekend Box Office

    James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel” has a slight edge over “The Lego Movie 2” in a tight race for domestic box office supremacy during Presidents Day weekend. Both are aiming for about $27 million, early estimates showed on Friday. The two titles are the only current bright spots as overall moviegoing for 2019 trails far [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

  • Oscars Best Song Nominees

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Songs

    This year’s crop of Oscar-nominated songs may be the most diverse in years: a ballad and a pop-rap from two of the year’s biggest films, plus a delicate lullaby from a Disney musical, a political themed anthem, and a novelty tune for singing cowboys. “Shallow,” the top-10 hit from “A Star Is Born,” is widely [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    All Oscar Categories to Air Live After Hollywood Protest

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed its controversial decision to hand out four Oscars during the telecast’s commercial breaks. Following a Thursday night meeting with top cinematographers, Academy leadership including president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have pledged to air every awards category on the live show a week from [...]

  • Academy Awards preparation 2017

    Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions

    Cinematographers who are opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have said a “productive” Thursday night meeting with Academy brass may lead to a reversal of the exclusions. American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum said in a letter to members Friday that he expects a decision by the end [...]

  • Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    When “The Dark Knight” failed to secured a best picture Oscar nomination, the snub was said to have prompted the Academy to expand the category from five nominees to as many as 10. A decade later, maybe out of fear that something similar might happen again to the immensely popular “Black Panther,” the Academy announced [...]

  • Chris Evans attends the "Lobby Hero"

    Chris Evans' Action Film 'The Red Sea Diving Resort' Bought by Netflix

    Netflix has bought global rights, excluding China, to Chris Evans’ action-thriller “The Red Sea Diving Resort” for release later this year. Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michiel Huisman, Greg Kinnear, and Ben Kingsley also star. “The Red Sea Diving Resort” is directed by “Homeland” creator Gideon Raff from his own script. Raff had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content