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Posted on January 19th, 2010 - Filed in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008), Press, Video Updates - 0 Comments / Leave one

CBS’s 60 Minutes has posted an amazing new piece of Penélope Cruz. In the rare interview, the Spanish starlet and Academy Award Winner, opens up about her life, career and childhood (also includes rare images of her as young girl!). Charlie Rose reports. While I do not like how the reporter goes about some parts of the interview, Pe remains poised and intelligent. It is truly a must see for her fans! Also worth noting – the video features some behind the scenes footage of Penélope and Pedro being shot for the Vanity Fair Hollywood Portfolio (usually the March issue)!

- CBS 60 Minutes Interview
- Web Extra: At The Ballet
- Web Extra: Working With Woody
- Web Extra: Penelope and Pedro
- Web Extra: The Language Barrier

At 35, Spanish actress Penelope Cruz is one of the most sensual and photographed women in the world. She has won critical acclaim, not only in Europe, but now, also in Hollywood. Last year she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress — the first Spanish actress ever to win an Academy Award.

How did this versatile performer from a working class suburb of Madrid become this generation’s Sophia Loren?

In part, it could be by turning in performances like the one she gives playing Carla, the seductive mistress, in the movie Nine – her first time singing and dancing in a film.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Cruz said she trained for three months to do a number in the movie.

She told Rose, “I had so much fun.”

And Cruz’s enjoyment shows in her provocative performance.

Cruz loves what she does. She’s a risk taker. She’s also a tireless worker who’s known for throwing herself into roles, pushing herself to the limit. And that’s just what she does in “Nine” to make her character Carla a version of everyman’s fantasy woman.

Cruz said playing Carla “really was a dream that came true.”

In Nine, Daniel Day Lewis plays the character Guido, just another in a string of men who fall hopelessly in love with the obsessed, sensual, unstable women Cruz loves to play.

“I saw something in Carla that’s a little bit off,” Cruz said. “I think she’s a very insecure woman, and she’s a little bit stuck on using her sexuality, because she’s so obsessed with Guido that that’s like one of her weapons.”

However, perhaps the most extreme example of this kind of character is her portrayal of the suicidal painter Maria Elena in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

“I had so much fun playing that woman,” Cruz said.

Cruz explained, “She thought she was too special to be happy — that she was a genius.”

She added, “(Maria Elena) would not allow herself to become more stable and more sane, because she thinks that if she does that, she’s afraid that she will become somebody boring and mediocre.”

In real life, Cruz herself can be tortured, obsessive and driven, which was tough for director Woody Allen, who’s known for shooting a scene in one or two takes.

Rose told Cruz, “You are a perfectionist. You want to try it again and again and again to get it right.”

Cruz replied, “Yeah, I think I — I drove him a little bit crazy, asking for more takes because I need somebody to stop me. I will never find the moment to stop, say, ‘OK, it’s enough. We have it.’”

That’s the performance that earned her an Oscar.

“I still can’t believe that I won the Oscar last year,” she said. “Because the way I grew up, and just to dream about becoming an actress and making a living out of that sounded like science fiction in my environment. You know, I come from a family where we had just what we needed to survive. So to dream about this type of job was crazy.”

Rose asked Cruz, “What qualities in you do you think most served getting where you are now?”

“Maybe something that has been my best friend and my worst enemy at times, which is how stubborn I can be,” Cruz replied. “And then, when people that really know me tell me that I’m stubborn, I always fight them and say, ‘That’s not true. That’s a myth.’ But I really am.”

Cruz grew up in Alcobendas, a working class suburb of Madrid. Today she lives outside of Madrid, but she agreed to meet Rose in her old neighborhood.

Cruz is the oldest of three children. Her father was a salesman, her mother, a hairdresser. The house she grew up in is gone, but she showed 60 Minutes her grandmother’s apartment, where she spent a lot of time.

Cruz says she had a happy childhood. It was a simple life.

When Cruz took Rose to one of her favorite restaurants, Casa Benigna, she talked about her mother and what she learned from watching her.

Rose said, “That was your first acting lesson — watching your mother in her own beauty salon, observing, seeing people talk about their lives.”

“Yeah,” Cruz said. “It was more interesting for me to pay attention to what they were not saying, you know, to what they wanted to hide from the other clients, or from my mother. And they were acting, most of them. And that’s why I always say that beauty salon — that hair salon — was like a first acting school.”

But as a kid, Cruz had no ambition to be an actress. She wanted to be a dancer, and studied classical ballet for over 10 years. She still has a passion for it, as Rose discovered when he and the star visited a New York City Ballet rehearsal.

When watching two performers dance, Rose asked Cruz, “Want to try?”

“No, I wish I could do that. Oh my God. That’s –,” she trailed off.

Rose said, “There’s probably no performing art that requires more physical discipline.”

Cruz agreed, adding, “Nothing harder than that I think.”

Cruz told Rose dance helped her with acting “a lot.”

“If I hadn’t had the discipline of all those years in the dance world, it would have been much, much tougher,” she explained. “I mean, it — it goes too far sometimes. I mean, I used to take my toenails — they would die from dancing — so I would just take the whole toenail and throw it away, and not feel anything. But I loved it.”

Cruz loved dance until she was 14 years old. Then she saw a movie called Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down by up-and-coming Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.

“I’ve never felt so inspired and (I knew) this is what I want to do,” she said. “And that week, I looked for an agent. And I did an audition, and she sent me home and she said, ‘You are too young. Come back next year.’ But I came back the week after. And she sent me away again. And then I came back the week after.”

“What does this story tell you about you?” Rose asked.

Cruz responded, “Stubborn.”

At 16, Cruz landed her first movie role in a Spanish film called Jamon, Jamon, playing a voluptuous teenage seductress opposite Javier Bardem. She became an overnight sensation as much for her nude scenes as for her talent, which made her very uncomfortable.

Rose asked the actress, “Were you concerned about how you’ll be perceived?”

Cruz replied, “I just knew I had to do the complete opposite.”

Her next movie, Belle Epoque, won a Foreign Language Oscar.

“In Belle Époque,” Cruz said, “I was playing a girl that was younger than myself — much younger, and innocent — much more innocent than I was then.”

Cruz’s ability to play both innocence and sensuality caught Hollywood’s attention. In the ’90s, she moved to Los Angeles where she was cast over the next seven years in a string of big budget, but lackluster American films with top directors and big name actors, including All the Pretty Horses with Matt Damon, Captain Correlli’s Mandolin with Nicholas Cage and Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise.

Cruise and Cruz had a well-publicized three-year relationship.

“Tell me about him,” Rose said. “What he meant to you at that time?”

“I don’t feel comfortable talking about that,” Cruz replied. “All I could tell you is that he’s a very, very good person whose only intention, I think, is really to help others and, and I think he’s been treated in a way that, you know, sometimes has been a little bit unfair.”

“In what way?” Rose asked.

Cruz replied, “I really don’t want to get into it with more detail.”

However, Cruz has no problem talking about her great friendship and professional relationship with director Pedro Almodovar. They have known each other for almost 20 years, and have made four critically-acclaimed movies together, including the recently released Broken Embraces.

Vanity Fair
celebrated their collaboration by asking them to pose for the magazine’s upcoming Hollywood issue.

Almodovar says Cruz is his muse. She’s says he’s her mentor.

“It is true that we love each other,” Almodovar told Rose.

“And how did that happen?” Rose asked.

Cruz said, “It started many years ago, when I was a kid. And we’ve gone through so much together.”

Both Cruz and Almodovar agree the director relaunched Cruz’s career, which had stalled out in Hollywood when he gave her the lead in the Spanish film Volver in 2006.

Cruz said the film opened up a lot of new doors for her career.

Rose added, “It also showed you what you could do.”

Cruz said, “It’s emotionally, and and in every way, more demanding than most of the characters that I played before that point.

Though the movie was in Spanish, her earthy, expressive performance proved to American critics that Cruz had the range and the talent — no matter what the language — to win an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

The nomination, Rose pointed out, was a vindication for Cruz who has struggled for years to be more than just the beautiful girl. However, her sensuality is an essential part of her appeal.

Rose said, “It’s always there. Other actresses have had (it). Sophia Loren had it. Tell me about you and this sexuality. It’s in your DNA?”

“I never felt, ‘Oh, I think I look good,’” she said. “I always tend to be more in the insecure side. And I thought that has always been a way to protect myself. Because I don’t trust the good feelings that can come from that.”

Rose said, “The good feelings that come from knowing you’re beautiful and sexy and-”

Cruz said, “I never -”

“You don’t trust it?” Rose asked.


Rose pressed, “You know it’s there. You know it. You feel it. You know how men react to you. But – ”

“No, that — I didn’t say that I know it’s there,” she said.

“You do know it’s there,” Rose said.

Cruz said, “No, I think -”

“Yes, you do,” Rose stressed. “You know it’s there.”

“At moments it can be there,” she said. “What I can give that to a character if it’s needed, then I can be more free to explore that in me and put it there. But what I think I have is a physique that can change a lot.”

Rose remarked, “You know that you cannot depend on that for a lifetime.”

“No. Nobody. Nobody,” she said. “So I never allowed myself to really enjoy that, which is maybe a bad thing. I don’t know.”

After making more than 40 movies, Cruz has decided to take more time for herself. She’s been in a relationship with Javier Bardem for two years. He co-starred with her in her first film, and then in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” While she won’t talk about that relationship, she will say that she wants more from her life than making movies.

Rose pointed out that Cruz wants to make fewer movies now.

“There was a point where I was making four movies a year,” she said. “I was always on a set. I had no stories to tell. I was feeling empty. My life was just luggage and hotels and from set to set, from character to character. And one day, I said, ‘And where is mine?’ You know? And the moment I started to feel that fear, I stopped and I slowed down.”

She said she likes the rhythm she’s in now.

“I enjoy it more,” she said. “But I feel very, very lucky that I can keep working.”

Source: CBS News

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