In the November issue of Vanity Fair, author Ingrid Sischy profiles Penelope Cruz and how she used her Spanish roots to inspire her performances in Broken Embraces and Nine.
Cruz stars in her fourth film with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar in Broken Embraces and in Rob Marshall's song and dance extravaganza, Nine, both due out this month.
Cruz starred in numerous Spanish films at the beginning of her career including Belle Epoque, Jamon, Jamon, A Tale of Ham and Passion; Ham, Ham, and Salami Salami. Her breakout performances in Live Flesh and All About My Mother made her a rising star to be watched.
Hollywood began casting Cruz as a leading lady in big-budget films in the early 1990s, but they were mostly flops. Director Pedro Almodovar explains the lack of success as a result of American directors who cast Cruz for her beauty, and not her ability.
In 2006, Almodovar cast Cruz in Volver, which "relaunched Cruz as an actress, not just a movie star." Cruz's performance earned her the first Oscar nomination for best actress for a Spanish actress. Her Volver performance also inspired Woody Allen to cast her in his film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which would become her first successful American film.
Almodovar uses Cruz's depth as a dramatic actress in his film, Broken Embraces. Cruz plays Lena, the girlfriend of a rich, controlling man who makes it possible for her to star in a movie. However, Lena and the director of the film begin a liaison that has tragic consequences. Cruz said the role was one of the most demanding she has taken on.
Rob Marshall's Nine is more upbeat and features a star-studded cast including Nicole Kidman, Fergie, Kate Hudson, and Daniel Day Lewis. Cruz plays Carla, a tender but temp mistress to Lewis's character. Nine is the first time Cruz will be able to show off her singing skills in the vocal number "A Call From the Vatican."
"Penelope was born to be an actress," says Almodóvar, who knows her better than anyone in the business. "She is someone who is extremely emotional, and if she was not an actress it could be a problem for her."
This article began with a five-paragraph anecdote about an encounter the author had with Cruz years ago. While humorous, the story added nothing to the body of the feature and was longer than was needed. I thought that the story could have been left out of the article completely.