Federico Grandesso talks to acclaimed actress, ‘Spanish Enchantress’ Penelope Cruz. First published in Together Magazine, reproduced here with their kind permission.
FG: You grew up in your mother’s hairdressing salon, so you must have learned something there about what beauty means to women. What memories do you have of this experience?
Penelope Cruz: I always regarded it as my first acting school, in fact, because I really came to understand what the women were after, and it wasn’t merely a question of a hairstyle. The women often arrived in a certain mood, and left feeling more confident, closer to their own personal ideal. For me, it was enthralling to sit in the corner, pretending to work when in fact I was actually observing the women’s behaviour. They often revealed very intimate aspects of their personalities, because they very felt safe in the salon. It was always lovely, especially at the end, when they looked in the mirror and you could see that they felt good about themselves.
If someone slipped into your bathroom, would they find a lot of beauty products?
Yes, I think I definitely have too many! [laughs] The problem is that I spend so much time in airports, and it is difficult to avoid the temptation of duty free!
Lancôme chose you to appear in their advertising for their Trésor perfume – what are your favourite Lancôme products?
I have used Lancôme products many times over the years, and I love the perfumes Trésor and Poême – often, I wear both. These scents evoke many memories for me.
Did you always want to be an actress?
In the beginning, I wanted to be a dancer. And then I started to enjoy going to the cinema, and to love the films of Pedro Almodóvar. I found an agent, I started to go to auditions, and then I began landing roles. I said to myself ‘Maybe this will work for me, after all’, and I haven’t stopped since.
You have had the same agent for almost 20 years – loyalty must be important to you?
The loyalty works both ways – Katrina Bayonas has also remained very faithful to me.
When you began as an actress, who were your great sources of inspiration?
Meryl Streep – I always asked myself ‘How can she be so talented?’, and I think that there is still really no other actress in her league.
How do you select your roles? What do you look for?
Variety. I do not want to play myself, nor to play the same character twice.
Is it important for you to remain close to your roots?
Very important. My family lives in Spain, my principal language is Spanish. I will never stop working in my own language, even though I have had many opportunities to travel and work in other languages.
Do you spend much time at home?
Quite a lot of time, yes, but I am also in the United States a lot, and I prefer New York to Los Angeles, because you can walk around NYC a lot, which is impossible in LA.
How do you manage to remain anonymous in New York?
It is possible – it all depends on the kinds of places that I visit, and I prefer the quiet spots.
What else do you want to achieve in your career?
I would just like to continue to learn, to find characters that touch me and allow me to touch other people.