The life of Penélope Cruz

Becoming a mother, volunteering with Mother Teresa, meeting Pedro Almodóvar... Penelope Cruz told us about 5 moments that changed her life while promoting Olivier Assayas' "Wasp Network."

Five highlights of her life

Penélope Cruz talks to Brut and discusses five of the most important highlights in her life thus far.

Volunteering with Mother Teresa

“Those conversations, those moments of silence we had, just she and I. Those were gifts from life. I remember being there with her, she’d have her eyes shut, we’d spend half an hour together, just the two of us in a room. And I’d freak, I’d be like: ‘What a gift from life. It’s crazy how much I’m taking in.’ One day, she put her forehead against mine and said: ‘Always try to be helpful to others. With whatever you have, even if it’s something small, but always try to be helpful’. That was so powerful. It’s one thing to know that it’s her, and to be in awe of her but when she’s there in front of you… It felt so special. And she said it in such a beautiful way, it was so powerful…”

“Sure, I’d already seen those very poor places, I’d traveled to rough places. But Calcutta… She used to say: ‘they’re poorest amongst the poor’. It’s true that it’s a place where you’ll see some of the most awful things. I’d pick up babies in the street and I’d go look for their parents who were begging on the next block. We’re talking one-month-olds. So, of course, when you get to experience this, right in front of your eyes, you see a baby left behind, of course, it’s life changing. It changes everything.”

Watching Pedro Almodóvar’s movie, “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”

“’Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ rocked my world. I was so obsessed with him and the movie, with the hope of being able to work with him someday… After seeing the movie, I went for a walk and that’s when I decided I’d go look for an agent and join an acting school. I joined the Cristina Rota drama school and stayed for four years. That’s when I saw this ad that read, ‘Looking for new faces’. (Agent) Katrina Bayonas was casting new faces. So off I went. I went three times, and on the third time, I got in. Three times in two weeks. I went back again and again. She’d say: ‘You’re too young, love’ and I’d be, like, ‘okay, well next week, I’ll be one week older’. And I was being so pushy that she let me do a third test. I let all my anger out for her previous rejections, for saying I was too young. And then… she looked at the tests, and she and her team called me up and we started working together.”

Meeting with Pedro Almodóvar

“I met him when he saw ‘Belle Epoque’ and ‘Jamón Jamón’…. He rang me up and I couldn’t believe that was actually him. When I heard his voice, it was like a dream… a very specific dream had come true. I’d dreamt so much about this. And he asked me to go to his place. I went to see him, and it was love at first sight. I thought to myself, ‘I’ve already met this guy, I don’t know when.’ It was such a powerful connection; it was mutual because he’s always said he felt the same way about me. We love each other so much, he’s like a member of my family. It’s so crazy when you feel so connected to someone from the get-go.”

“He told me: ‘I’ll soon write you a part that’ll fit you like a bodysuit’. He left me a note saying that and it got me so excited. Later, he called me for the part in ‘Live Flesh’, a short yet wonderful part. I was giving birth in a bus, with the woman who’s now my mother-in-law. There are no coincidences. Isn’t that nuts?”

Her Academy Award for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

“That gave me such an adrenaline rush. On top of that, it was the first Award that evening. I was with my mom and it was so intense. Because in a moment like this, all you can think about is ‘How am I going to be able to say everything I want to say without fumbling or falling down or tripping?’ You get so nervous. All you want at the time is for it to be over with and for nothing weird to happen. You just want to be able to dedicate this award to the people you want to dedicate it to. It was important for me to say a few words in Spanish, to give thanks in Spanish… and I remember walking out of there, going down the hall feeling like I was on the moon. I was feeling faint. I didn’t fully understand what was happening.”

On becoming a mother

“For sure, that’s changed everything. My outlook on life. Being a mother changes everything from day 1. I interpreted many mothers before I ever became one and I thought I understood them very well, and maybe I did, but now it’s on another level. It’s… Your life changes, the way you look at things, the way you feel. And I’m sure it has affected the way in which I interpret them.”