It was in major Spanish movies like JAMÓN, JAMÓN, LA NIÑA DE TUS OJOS and BELLE ÉPOQUE that Penélope Cruz first attracted international attention. She is the muse of Director Pedro Almodovar who cast her in TODO SOBRE MI MADRE (ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER), which won the Best Foreign Language Film. Later he cast Cruz in VOLVER and she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress, making her the first Spanish actress ever to be nominated in this category.
Penélope Cruz was born in Madrid, the daughter of Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser, and her husband Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic. Her younger sister, Monica Cruz, is Spanish dancer and her younger brother, Eduardo, is a singer.
From a young age Cruz studied classical ballet at Spain's National Conservatory, continuing her training with a number of prominent dancers. However, at 15 she changed her mind and became an actress.
In 2000 Cruz made her first American picture, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES with Matt Damon. Later she made VANILLA SKY, an American version of ABRE LOS OJOS. She starred with Matthew McConaughey in the action adventure SAHARA and appeared with her friend, Salma Hayek, in BANDIDAS. Cruz was highly praised for her performance in Woody Allen's VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA as the mentally unstable ex-wife of Javier Bardem. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and won a BAFTA and an Academy Award as best supporting actress.
Acknowledged as a fashion icon, Cruz and her sister Monica announced they were designing a collection for the Barcelona-based fashion chain, Mango.
Q: So Penelope, talk about having the opportunity to be part of this cast.
PC: I feel really lucky that I have been part of this movie, and that I've had the opportunity to work with all these amazing people, and get to know them, and spend time with them.
Q: Tell us about your character Carla and her relationship with Guido.
PC: Well I see her as a very obsessed woman. They are both in a--they are both lying, they are both married and having this secret relationship with each other for a long time, I think that for many years before the movie starts, and she is very obsessed with him, and she has this fantasy that their life together is gonna be, that it's gonna happen, they are going to be together and happy forever, and she doesn't want to let that go. She's very--something about her I think is a little bit off. It's hard to explain, but she's a mixture of many things. She's sometimes very strong, big fighter, then the next moment she can be a little kid, and very, very, very vulnerable, and she depends very much on, on Guido emotionally. Her mood and her state very much depends on him and the way he treats her.
Q: Which is not always so great.
PC: No, I think Carla suffers a lot, but she's also responsible for that situation. She--I think she's a woman who suffers a lot in all of that time that she spends alone waiting for him.
Q: Talk about "Call From the Vatican" and the process--the rehearsals, the recording of the song… what was that like for you?
PC: It was very scary, especially to sing because I have not sung before in a movie or anywhere professionally, but I am a very big fan of music and of musicals. And if you're gonna do a musical, there is nobody better to do it with than Rob Marshall. So I knew I was in the best hands. I was happy that we got to do all those auditions so that he, he--I mean he really needed to see if we were gonna be able to dance, and sing, and even the auditions were fun because he just brings magic to everything he does. You know the way he treats people, and the way he deals with the work, his manners, he can be very, very picky, and work very, very hard, and I love that, but he always does it with such grace. He, he can handle a huge amount of pressure. He can be under the most stressful situation but he's always nice to everybody else. And it's amazing to be able to work with somebody like that. He's really, really unique.
Q: Were you surprised at how much you could do just by working with him?
PC: Well he made it possible for us to do those difficult numbers because he gave us the best teachers. For singing we had Paul Bogave who is an amazing voice teacher. They spent a lot of time with us with a lot of dedication and a lot of passion for what they were doing. So…
Q: The beautiful costumes.
PC: Colleen is amazing. I think she's really one of the best and she's somebody else that had a lot of pressure in this movie because she had so many eh, different outfits for each character, and then for all the dancers there were like two hundred, and everything that everybody wears is like a museum piece. And Rob worked very closely with her, and spent a lot of time also with every department, and it's very impressive what everyone did.
Q: Talk about working with Daniel Day Lewis and the rest the actors.
PC: Daniel is amazing. He's really one of the masters of acting, one of the masters of all time, and I feel very lucky that I've been able to share many of my scenes with him. He was really kind and nice to all of us, also he was always worried about all of us if we were happy with what we were doing, and he, he's really incredible to watch, you know. In those scenes to be able to see so closely that he can really do anything that he wants (unintelligible) so overwhelming. And with all the women, I spent--even if we don't have a lot of scenes together we spent time because putting together the overture and the finale we rehearsed a lot together, and spent a lot of time in the green room.
Q: What do you think audiences will find when they go to see "Nine?"
PC: I think people will spend two hours smiling, and they will leave, they will leave the theater smiling. And that is a huge thing, especially these days. I think people really want to go to the theater and feel inspired, and, and the movie is really like an adrenaline trip. It's like going to an attraction park. And it makes you kind of high in a good way because it never stops because you start, and you see with this number, and wow, what is that. All the numbers are at a very, very high level and it's an experience to watch the movie. It just really… I think even if you have a very, very hard day you go and watch the movie and I think you will leave the theater in a completely different mood. It does something to you. It's like an injection of hope, and inspiration. I think Rob has done an amazing, amazing job with this movie.