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INT: Penelope Cruz

11.17.2003by:

Interview #1 Penelope Cruz
Interview #2 Robert Downey Jr.
Interview #3 Halle Berry

Sure, Hollywood has its share of beautiful actresses, but how many of them can still work it while dressed in a straight jacket? In the upcoming thriller GOTHIKA, Penelope Cruz does just that, putting the “insane” in “insanely hot.” Not content with being known merely as Tom Cruise’s girlfriend, the Spanish siren is committed to taking challenging roles that showcase her broad acting talent to American audiences. Her GOTHIKA character, Chloe Sava, isn’t just a little cuckoo; she’s a raging, foaming psycho, on par with Lizzie Borden or Madonna. I believe the clinical term is “one f----d-up chick.”

Locked up in the looney bin after committing a brutal murder, crazy Chloe entertains psychiatrist Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) with delightful stories of havin’ freaky sex with none other than the dark lord himself – Satan. What a lucky guy. Chicks always go for the jerks. Penelope arrived at our room in the Beverly Hills Four Seasons looking absolutely luminous in a elegant white outfit (my unfamiliarity with women’s clothing prevents me from going into further detail – suffice it to say, she was smokin’). We talked at length about filmmaking, mental illness and that guy she’s dating.

PENELOPE CRUZ

Was it fun to totally dress down, with no makeup or anything?

It was because it was what the character needed. I’ve actually done that before in Europe, but here, this is my first time. The other characters didn't need that. I'm not afraid of it when the character needs it but I think it's bad to force it. When you force it it's bad in both directions: if you want to look good in every movie or if you think that you have to look worse than a character to make it more believable. If it doesn't need it, it doesn't make sense. But I've done that with Almodovar and the movie I just did in Italy, I mean, the way I look in GOTHIKA is nothing compared to the one I did in Italy. My family was scared. They say, "How you looked in that movie, you scared me."

In day to day life, do you have to always look good? Are you afraid to get a picture taken in sweatpants?

No, I actually do it all the time. I go to the gym, not every day, but when I go. I never wear makeup when I'm not working; it's just very tiring. You've got to spend hours and hours in a makeup chair, so I don't do it when I am not shooting or doing this kind of stuff.

Talk about the intensity of acting with Halle in some of those scenes.

They were a little bit disturbing for us, some of them. But I love that I had to do them with her because she is an angel. Between takes, she always made me smile and she's so affectionate. I've had just the strongest connection as an actress with her, and I've made 30 something movies. From the moment we said, "Nice to meet you," we trusted each other.

What kind of connection was that?

I don't know. It's an energy thing. It happens with some people and with us, we talked about it because we both felt very comfortable with each other. I like her a lot. She's honest. I feel like I can trust her and maybe you don't find that on every set.

Do you spend time together still?

Well, we've been away shooting in different places and we just have spent time on the movie. But I've been thinking about her, somebody that I'm happy I met and that I hope I will get to work more with her and spend time with her because I think she is a very good person.

Did you know her before?

Never.

Was it hard to let go of this character when you left the set?

I was very, very disciplined with taking care of myself. I didn't even go to restaurants to have dinner which I normally do, and it helped me because I could mentally rest more. Here I would just go directly to a hotel to have some quiet times, some silence. Maybe take a massage because my shoulders were up in the ceiling.

What was disturbing about the character?

For me, much more than the ghosts, is the fact that these two women are trapped in a place where no one listens to them and they know they are right and they fight for that. The fact that nobody listens to them is what is making them sick. I never treated my character as somebody that was crazy.

What is the appeal of a role like this?

There's different reasons. I wanted to work with Halle and the character was very new for me (compared to) the ones that I've done here in America. And even if in Europe I've done more of those kinds of characters, maybe most of the people that went and saw ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER is not the majority of the people. But the other movie I did with Pedro or the movie with Bigas Luna, so I thought it would give me another opportunity, this character.

How do you keep your high profile personal life from overshadowing your film work?

I've had a relationship with that part of the business since I was very, very young. When I was 17, when I made my first movie, that movie was a big hit in Spain and I was nominated for our Academy Award.  A lot of good things happened that also were difficult for me to understand. I was scared how it was going to affect my family, my friends. So I think I went through that first with them when already people started to be interested in, “Oh, who are you dating and why?” I learned to deal with it then with distance. I never talk about my private life. Part of it is your responsibility, I mean my own, to protect it. And I do it. I really protect my family and my relationship. Sometimes I would love to talk about things that make me happy that are more personal, but then you always end up regretting it so I don't do it.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Of course I don't know – I’ve never seen one – but if you told me I've seen someone yesterday, I would believe you probably. I mean, I've seen some amazing things in my life. It's weird enough that we are all here having these conversations, but the only thing we know for sure is that one day we're going to die. So I haven't had direct experience with it, but maybe.

Do you celebrate Halloween?

I've been dressing up for a few years.

What will you be this year?

I don't know yet. I'm going to go to the store and find the outfit.

Isn't your job a little like Halloween?

Similar. I guess in a way you could compare it to that, but that part of it actually helps me a lot, whatever the character needs. Which language does she speak, which accent and why? What shoes does she wear. For me, everything. Does she wear perfume, doesn't she? Everything, I write down all those things and it's the fun part of it to create that person with her background. What does she want in life? I love that. When I studied theater for three years in Spain in a very, very tough school where we always did all those exercises to prepare a character.  I still do it on the set. It gives me a lot of happiness, that part of the work.

Has the Hollywood part of your career lived up to expectations?

Yes. I mean, even more because it's really difficult that there are no actresses in my country that have worked here continually. So I always used to feel like, “Oh, it's kind of impossible,” but I'm working with continuity and I have projects that I love and I said I would never stop working in my country and in other places in Europe.  I just worked in Italy and last year in France. That is what I have to do because English will always be my second language. And I keep studying it and I would probably get through more and more of the accent but now I can shoot in four languages. That's the kind of career that I want to have instead of just always working in America with always having the thing of the accent. It's never become a problem with me because I'm not having to do things that I don't believe in because of working in all these different countries. And I never underestimate that. A small movie in France for me means as much as a huge studio movie here.

Do you dream in Spanish or English?

Sometimes it's a combination. Now when I was in Italy, I was shooting in Italian and I had to have perfect Italian because my character is called Italy. Which is true that some people are called like that, especially years ago. So I was actually dreaming in a combination of the three of them and I was very, very tired.

When you get mad, do you yell in Spanish?

No, it's ridiculous the way I'm speaking and I have to be very careful in Spain because there you can't make a mistake. To say, "Oh, sorry, I've been away so I don't really remember how you say glass", you'd be crucified. You can't make those mistakes in your country. But I'm always tense. If I'm in a room, yesterday I was also doing interviews in French, Spanish and English, changing all the time. And then the Spanish woman came in, I was so tense because I said, "If a French or English word comes out my mouth, I will never be forgiven."

Do you curse in Spanish or English?

In every language.

Does it bother you that this is a supporting character?

I’ve done that in Europe, and it has always brought me good things. My first work with Almodovar, I was on screen 10 minutes. And it completely affected my career. It was a change for me. People didn't think I could do that kind of character,  a prostitute. And people went, "Oh, I'm surprised you don't care about looking good." And I said, "No, I am not afraid of those characters. I want to take risks. I want to feel scared. I don't want to get to the set completely secure and safe. That's not fun."

Do you think Tom Cruise is trapped, typecast?

He can, like he did in MAGNOLIA when he did a supporting role and it's one of  the best things he has done. I think he can do everything. He can do everything because he is so talented.

When will you act together?

When we find the right thing because we don't want to force it just to make a movie together.

Even if you have a small role, is it important that you take parts in large films?

For me also the ideal situation with that is to combine it. Like now I did this, GOTHIKA, then I did an independent, HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, with Sharon Stone where I play a homosexual trying to go back to Spain during the second World War. But they're very different kinds of movies and different kinds of characters and now I just wrapped the Italian movie and I'm going to do an independent movie and then a big studio movie, Noel, with Susan Sarandon – who is one of my heroes in many ways, and with Robin Williams and Paul Walker.

It's directed by Chazz Palminteri, and that's an independent movie, a comedy. And then I'm going to do SAHARA with Matthew McConaughey. That's a big movie, my big adventure movie, my big action-heroine kind of thing. I've never done anything like that. I have to start going to the gym and it's fun for me. I will probably do a movie like that only once in a while because I'm more used to other kinds of stuff, but this is what I want, to keep combining all these things.

Source: JoBlo.com

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