Perched behind a table at the Intercontinental Hotel's swank restaurant, clad in a blue-and-white floral dress and a bright pink cardigan, Penélope Cruz abandons her BlackBerry for a one-on-one with me as though it's no interruption at all. Though it's clear that the press attention is not Cruz's favourite part of her job, she is charming, thoughtful and friendly.
"It's really a part of our work. You finish the movie, then you travel with the movie and talk about it and promote it. When you are proud of the project and it's been a good experience to make the movie and you have stories to share, it's so much easier." Then, flashing a mischievous smile, she adds: "Because you don't have to lie about it."
Cruz's face is brilliantly expressive, and though she chooses her words carefully, her face often reveals as much or more about her feelings.
She is here promoting her latest collaboration with Pedro Almodóvar, Broken Embraces, and one gets the sense there are no lies in her effusive praise for the film. Much has been made of the superstar Spanish duo and their intense, loving relationship. Still, the nerves she has felt for nearly two decades at stepping in front of Almodóvar's camera have never lessened.
"We know each other very well and we love each other very much. ... [But]he is very direct and very honest, and he will tell you things the way they are. I prefer that honesty. But that also means you never know what you're going to hear. It keeps you on your toes, very much," she said, even going so far as to say she's intimidated at times.
Her co-star, Lluis Homar, considers himself privileged to have worked in tandem with this special partnership.
"It's something sacred between them," he muses.
And that's part of what makes this film entrancing -- it has the feeling of being all in the family -- an artistically demanding family. Cruz said of Homar, "he's such a gentleman, and I think a very, very good actor." And Homar, who 14 years ago played a small role as Cruz's father in La Celestina, remembers seeing early sparks of greatness.
"Already, there was something very special [about her] and for the Spanish people, we already knew," he says. "Now, she's a star in the great sense of the word. She has something from Heaven."
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