shadows features From Pedro to Woody
Penelope Cruz talks about her Oscar-winning role...
with her oscar
Above: with her Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Below: with Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen at the film's premiere with johansson and allen

as maria elena
with bardem

28.Apr.74, Madrid
Broken Embraces (2009) Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Elegy (2008) The Good Night (2007)
Volver (2006) Chromophobia (2005)
Sahara (2005) Don't Move (2004)

B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
vicky cristina barcelona Penelope Cruz won almost every award going earlier this year for her outrageous turn in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona - this included both Oscar and Bafta, as well as Spain's Gaudi and Goya awards. On the heels of her heavily acclaimed performance in 2007's Volver, this seems to have finally put Cruz's rather iffy years behind her (in 2001, she was shortlisted for a Razzie for her unsteady work in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Vanilla Sky and Blow). As Vicky Cristina Barcelona comes out on DVD, her next film is heading into cinemas; and Broken Embraces is another reunion with Pedro Almodovar...

You've made five films with Almodovar, but how does that compare with a Woody Allen film set?
Woody doesn't go to the set with any kind of drawings or storyboards; everything is in his mind and he has the confidence to be able to say, "OK that's it" - one take, move on. You cover the scene with two shots or just one in a scene where there are five, and you see that in his movies. It's really beautiful for me to have been able to see Woody and work so close to him. He's a machine. The amount of talent is overwhelming. All my life I've wanted to work with him. I remember exactly the moment they told me I had the role. I was so excited, and then I never saw him again until I was in front of the camera.

And you shot the film in your home country, Spain.
It was great because we shot in a lot of beautiful places here and it was very good to have Woody working here in our country. Hopefully he will come back.

I really had to forget that we were doing a comedy, because there is nothing funny about it for her

Why do you think this character struck such a nerve?
She's a very unstable woman. She's in a lot of pain most of the time; she's never at peace with herself. She doesn't understand the codes that are dictated out there as to what's normal. But what I really like about her is that she really defends that reality. So what is true for her she fights for, even if it is very peculiar or is considered crazy.

Did you enjoy getting under her skin?
It was very interesting to get to understand her and to understand why she brings chaos everywhere she goes. What are the reasons? Its not just for attention, she's desperate and she's in real, real pain and I had to approach that pain from a very serious place. That's why I really had to forget that we were doing a comedy, because there is nothing funny about it for her. She only sees darkness and that's what she's trying to find a way out from. But her ways to find the light are very peculiar. I like her.

Her interaction with Javier Bardem's character is certainly entertaining!
They have been together and separated and trying to work things out many times. They are both very peculiar people. They feel like they cannot live together, but they cannot live apart, so they feel that they are condemned to live with that pain for the rest of their lives. And then they try to work things out with Scarlett's character. And my character, Maria Elena, really believes that Scarlett's character was the ingredient that was missing and that now, with the three of them together, they can have a much more balanced relationship.

Besides winning the Oscar, what do you think about the film itself?
I think this film is about people searching for answers in very different ways, with all of them trying to defend their own realities and the conflict that that creates. When you come out of the theatre I think you have laughed a lot, but you go home thinking about a lot of things that can touch every one of us. And also because we all ask ourselves very similar questions, even if we approach those subjects from different ways, different perspectives, point of views. Like these characters too, because they couldn't be more different from each other, but I think the movie has so many layers. You laugh, but it hurts also and makes you go home thinking about whatever is important for you, because it can touch so many buttons.



© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall