For Almodovar and Cruz, the love is mutual.
Film history has given us a myriad of directors who play favorites, who channel their visions through an actor, using them as their vessel: Think John Ford and John Wayne, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. In the case of beloved Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, his inspiration is, beyond a shred of doubt, the lovely Penelope Cruz.
“Our relationship keeps changing and evolving,” says the actress. “It gets to the point where we often know what the other one is thinking. We really have a strong friendship, but it doesn’t mean I get less nervous when I’m around him on set because he’s so honest. And that’s what I love about working with him — his honesty.”
The latest collaboration for the pair is the multilayered romantic tragedy/film noir Broken Embraces, in which Cruz plays Lena, a failed actress who is manipulated into marrying a lecherous millionaire before she is “rescued” by a dashing film director (Lluis Homar). When their professional relationship slips into a passionate sexual and emotional love affair, jealousy and eventually murder rear their hideous heads.
This is easily Cruz’s best performance to date, and it’s a given that she’d work for her director again — and again — at a moment’s notice. “He’s had me as a whore giving birth on a bus, as a nun who gets pregnant from a transsexual. He’s a genius, and when he calls, I drop everything for him. It’s a natural fit.”
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