‘I don’t want to play it safe’

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‘I don’t want to play it safe’

‘When I’m 80, I want to look in the mirror and see an 80-year-old woman. My grandmothers had so many wrinkles, and every wrinkle told a story. I want to experience every year of my life for what it is’

By (Daily Mail)

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Published: Tue 22 Jul 2008, 3:01 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:11 PM

NICKNAMED THE Madonna of Madrid, actress Penelope Cruz has landed coveted film roles and sexy boyfriends - Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey and latest squeeze actor Javier Bardem. The 34-year-old Spanish beauty first made a name for herself in Pedro Almodovar’s indie films Live Flesh and Volver, for which she received an Oscar nod.

Her American hits include Vanilla Sky, Blow and Sahara. The face of L’Oreal Cosmetics, Penelope has also designed a fashion line for Mango. Her new film, Elegy, is out on August 8.

Would you look ugly for a role?

Have you seen Don’t Move? - because I look very ugly in that movie. I don’t care if I have to look ugly for a character. I’m not scared of that. I look for the heart and soul of the part. I don’t want to play it safe. You give the character what the character needs. In Don’t Move, I had to look vulgar because she’s a woman who’s damaged by life psychologically, and sees herself as a pathetic clown.

How do you feel about Hollywood’s obsession with preserving youth?

I think that is so boring! I don’t even get into those conversations, because when I hear a woman who is in her early 30s worrying about growing old, I just want to slap her.

When I’m 80, I want to look in the mirror and see an 80-year-old woman.

My grandmothers had so many wrinkles, and every wrinkle told a story. I want to experience every year of my life for what it is. It doesn’t mean I am against somebody who does a little retouch or plastic surgery; that’s a different story. You can be 50 years old and want to do a little thing and it can look great. I don’t judge people who do it. I just don’t like how women complain about growing old. I loved Audrey Hepburn: she was so natural and she was a real woman. She was beautiful when she was young and she was beautiful when she was 60. Sophia Loren and Susan Sarandon, too.

They are so amazing and so sexy. They are themselves, and that’s what makes them so attractive.

Have you ever had a life-changing experience?

I was lucky enough to meet Mother Teresa. It was an incredible experience; so humbling. I told her that I didn’t know how my life could be useful after seeing what I saw in Calcutta. She said: ‘Don’t change the opportunities you have.

Use them in the right way. When you can contribute to a good cause or raise awareness, do so, because it’s a great privilege.’ Calcutta is one of the poorest places in the world. You see babies thrown out in the street because their parents are in a war. You see things you can’t believe are happening in front of your eyes. That trip really changed my life.

What was the defining moment you realised you were famous?

When I heard the rumour that I was pregnant, married and divorced in the same month.

Would you rather be rich and famous or poor and anonymous?

I would like to be anonymous. I don’t welcome fame, but I think that you learn to deal with it. When I was 16 and I became famous in my country, I was very confused about it. It was a little bit scary and I was worried about the way it could affect my friends and my family. But then you learn to protect the people around you, and to take responsibility for that.

What is on your ‘to do’ list?

I’m trying to find that day to organise my closet, which I’ve been trying to do for five months.

Are you an open book when it comes to emotions?

Yes. I remember the first time I had my heart broken. I lay in bed for weeks. My heart was beating so fast and I was shaking so much that the bed was moving. I even took something to calm me down. That was not the best time for me. I think everybody needs to experience that at least once to grow up in life.

What were your dreams as a child?

As early as I can remember, I’ve loved photography. It is now my hobby. I want to learn more about technique. I would like to combine that with my acting some day.

What was your greatest moment of desperation?

I was on a plane with Salma Hayek and the pilot had to make an emergency landing because of falling levels of air pressure in the cabin. We had to be on the set of Bandidas by 7am. Oxygen masks fell.

It was a terrifying experience. I prayed, because I didn’t want to go out in that way. Salma got off the plane saying: ‘Where’s the bar?’

What is your idea of heaven?

I love working with Pedro Almodovar. I would sign up to make 25 movies with him, without reading the scripts. He is someone I have a very special relationship with - like we know each other from somewhere before.

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