HomeHealthHow Penelope Cruz pursued Pedro Almodóvar until she became his muse

How Penelope Cruz pursued Pedro Almodóvar until she became his muse

If Pedro Almodóvar helped Penélope Cruz become one of the most recognized actresses in the world, it’s also true that the Spaniard brought many of the director’s films to a wider audience. It takes more than the fingers of one hand to count the jobs they’ve done together.

The symbiotic relationship between Almodóvar and Cruz has borne many fruits. With “Tudo Sobre a Minha Mãe” in 1999, the director achieved his second nomination and his first Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film. The cast included Cruz, who also made her Oscar debut with her first nomination in 2007 after being re-chosen by the director to cast Volver.

Now, 15 years later, Penélope Cruz is nominated again in the main category for Best Actress, and again in an Almodóvar film, Mães Paralelas. The film was one of the highlights of the Oscar nominations announced this Tuesday, February 8, where it picked up in the Best Actress and Best Musical Theme categories.

Interestingly, alongside Woody Allen and his “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Cruz would get his first and only statuette. In “Dor e Glória” he again helped Almodóvar break into the Best Foreign Film category at the 2019 Oscars.

“He changed my view of the world long before I met him,” the actress revealed to The Guardian in 2009. She is 47 years old, he is 72, but they have known each other for almost 30 years in a friendship that began with an obsession.

Cruz was addicted to the Spanish director’s films. I had them all recorded on VHS tapes, but sometimes I risked going to the cinema. “I went into town to say ‘Tie Me!’ to see. and that day changed a lot of things in my life,” he reveals from the episode when he was just 14 years old.

“In terms of decision, that was the day I decided to be an actress. It felt like going to the moon, something impossible for someone coming from where I was from. Nobody in my family was connected to art,” he says. Perhaps that is why he decided to get involved and try with all his might to win over the cinema and his idol.

“Even when I was little, I identified with him,” she recalls. “He was the person that interested me. Why does he see the world like this? Why do you understand women like that? I wanted to know who this person was who was so courageous politically. Growing up in Spain there was an immense fear of change and he was the complete opposite.”

In her youth and youth, she had another passion, classical ballet. It was Almodóvar who prevented the birth of another ballerina with his films. And when she decided she wanted to be an actress after all, Cruz also decided she had to meet the director — and she took the task very seriously.

“I often went for walks in his neighborhood. He went to the cinemas where he used to go, to the bars he frequented. And I always said to my friends: ‘Today we’re going to see Pedro.’ And it happened,” he tells Deadline.

“It was a huge influence on me. Film after film it pushed me towards acting. His films revolutionized my life and I felt I had to try [ser atriz]”, account. “That’s why I got an agent, went to drama school and started going to auditions.”

He finally made his film debut with “Jamón Jamón” and “Belle Epoque” after appearing in three small series – and starring in his absolute debut in a music video for the Spanish band Mecano. It was in Jamón Jamón (1992), where Cruz plays the daughter of a prostitute – and with Javier Bardem, now her companion, in the cast – that Almodóvar saw her for the first time.

“She had a teenage voice, totally out of tune at times, but she was unique,” the director tells The Guardian. “She had a passion that oozed from every pore, a cheekiness that really suited my films.”

Cruz was just 18 years old and still living at his parents’ house when the phone rang. On the other side was Pedro Almodóvar. “I thought it was a joke,” the actress recalls. “I was at home blow drying my hair and someone told me Pedro was on the line. I had spent my entire childhood dreaming of talking to him, of meeting him. I thought it was a joke.” Wasn’t.

They would eventually meet in person at the apartment. Cruz auditioned for his next film, but the timing wasn’t right. Almodóvar was working on “Kika” and stated that she was too young for the role. “She was always too young for my characters,” he revealed, before admitting that one day he would write a character “that would fit her like a glove.”

The meeting would be pushed back to five years later on the set of Carne Trémula, where he also met Javier Bardem in the cast. “It was one of those moments where the perfect dream comes true. You think it’s too good to be true,” Cruz recalled. “He was the main reason I tried [ser atriz]. I risked everything for him.”

Even today, Cruz’s dreams are based on Almodóvar’s words. She also aspires to be a director, a dream she revealed to her friend many years ago in a bar in Madrid. “He said to me, ‘You have to do it. If you’re saying that now and you’re still 16 years old, you absolutely should.” And one day I know that I’m going to make that decision,” the actress told Variety.

Immediately after “Carne Trémula”, Cruz was one of the protagonists of director Alejandro Amenábar’s world premiere, which was well received at the time. “Abre los Ojos” was his ticket to Hollywood when the American machine decided to redo the production. Cruz was called in to reprise her character, this time alongside megastar Tom Cruise. That same year, 2001, he also starred alongside Johnny Depp in Blow.

The one who didn’t like what he saw was Pedro Almodóvar. “I suffered as soon as I saw her doing things that weren’t as good as they could be,” recalls the director. “She wasn’t very lucky at first. She got into Hollywood very quickly and everyone wanted to work with her because she’s so beautiful – it was more for that. She became a style icon and nobody wanted to know if she was a good actress.” Much of the fame also came from the much-discussed romance with Tom Cruise.

“That’s what I don’t like about Hollywood. They never think of giving an actor anything other than usual. They always have to be very confident in what they do,” he explains. None of this happens when Cruz is under Almodóvar’s orders.

“There’s something that works really well in our relationship that connects our friendship with the professional side,” he says. “We worked as lovers, but since we don’t share the joys of sex, we don’t have the complications that come with it,” says the openly gay director. “We work really well together, like a couple who don’t sleep together.”

This is where Cruz finds the secret of the success of this supposed muse role. “In the end we always keep a little distance. Nothing is planned, but we behave differently [da habitual no dia a dia]”, account. “Maybe it’s a way for us to protect the relationship and the work. I asked him a few months ago if he noticed that we’ve done that, that we’ve changed how we interact on set. He said, “Yes, it’s true. But it worked, so we’re not going to change anything.'”

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