Why 'Official Competition' reunited Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz

Sergio Burstein, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Similarly, Cruz indicated that her methods keep evolving. Sometimes, on film sets, she said, directors foster a strained, unpleasant atmosphere, in hopes of coaxing more electric performances. "The truth is that I myself, at 20 or 30 years old, thought that the more I suffered, the better the performance would come out," Cruz said.

"But, the older I get, the more I value what it is to interpret from the imagination, instead of forcing your own experiences and your own traumas at work, which are going to enter anyway, because that door is always open."

That does not mean that the actress has not sometimes been intensely — and intentionally — exposed to emotional pain in her recent works, as happened in "Parallel Mothers" (2021), the Almodóvar film that earned her an Oscar nomination. And that put her in one particularly vulnerable situation.

"They lifted me up one day from the ground because I couldn't get out of [the] fiction; I was totally in a loop, and Pedro helped me out by giving me a hug," she recalled. "Those things also happen, because you can get to a place like that from your imagination, as Félix says in a very funny moment in this film. ... Doing something like this also makes you feel a lot of empathy for stories that are not yours, for different realities that you may not have lived but that you can understand."

Cruz, who studied classical ballet for nine years and later trained with renowned acting teacher Cristina Rota, said that with Almodóvar, she works alongside him and rehearses over several months. When time is limited, Cruz prepares more on her own, with an acting teacher's assistance.

"If you touch a character that exists or has existed, you have much more research material, as happened with Donatella [Versace]," she said, referencing the television miniseries "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," for which she spent a lot of time listening to audios and watching videos.


Cruz's next film is "On the Fringe," the directorial debut of popular Argentine-Spanish actor Juan Diego Botto, a friend.

Banderas said he's focused on the stage. He recently bought a theater in Málaga and has been offering all kinds of presentations there. But he hasn't abandoned Hollywood, where he most recently wrapped filming the next, still untitled Indiana Jones segment.

"It was really nice to be around Harrison [Ford] and Phoebe Waller-Bridge," he said.

"I'm not the bad guy," he added. "I'm a friend of Indy's."


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