What is not commonly known about Penélope Cruz–international beacon of beauty, movie star, muse to many, from Pedro Almodóvar to Woody Allen, and Hollywood heartbreaker–is that she’s a mischievous sort. “One thing that I am proud of: I am really capable of laughing at myself,” she says. She’s bossy too. “I think you want a Coke, right,” she says, which means she wants a Coke. “And you definitely want more turkey baconnnn.
She launches into a story of shooting her first film after having Leonardo, Allen’s To Rome with Love. (She won an Oscar for her deliciously unhinged role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.) “I love being around Woody. Watching him direct, and sometimes,” she whispers, “he falls asleep while they are lighting the next shot. I take pictures of him because he picks the strangest positions. I always think he is going to fall off his chair.” But it’s when he’s awake that Penélope says she loves Allen the most: “That whole shoot I laughed so hard.”
In 2010, she married fellow Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who she met at the age of 17 on the set of comedy Jamón Jamón. The two, with little Leonardo, shuttle regularly between Madrid and Los Angeles, making the odd stop on location.
Although the family is in L.A. right now, it’s not part of the master plan. “When I come here now, I have so many memories,” Penélope says. “Some of them good, some of them not so good. I have lived beautiful moments here, but I don’t want to live here. It is not the place where I want to raise my kids.” Ask about Leonardo and she gives a diplomatic smile and declines to elaborate. “I talk about him all day long, even to strangers in the street; it is my favorite subject! But, you know; this is my job.”
Ask Penelope how her family and friends would describe her and she replies: “Stubborn. Even my mother would say that as the first word!” She would describe herself as “persistent. It is my best friend and my worst enemy. And I don’t just mean fighting for something related to work; it could be anything. I have a strong personality, and I say what I think. I think I’ve been better about being a little more flexible.” Tell her she’s a no-bullshit girl and she grins broadly. “That is the best compliment you can give me!”
Even though Penélope is remarkably direct and is effusive about “being happier in my 30s than I was in my 20s,” she also characterizes herself as a “worrier. I am living for every day and trying to have less fear, less worry. But I have always worried about everything; it’s in my nature. It’s the thing that makes me suffer the most.”
Her actress idol, as it is for many other is La Streep. “When I first started watching movies and I saw Meryl’s work, that’s when I became obsessed with acting,” Penélope says. “Now I kiss her whenever I see her! She must think I’m crazy.” She recalls a magazine shoot they did together a few years ago for the AIDS charity (RED). “As soon as she got to the set, I had to sit topless on top of her. It was the most interesting love scene I’ve ever done.”
On fashion, Penélope is decisive. Her go-to designers are Scott, “Alaïa, Armani, Dolce, Karl Lagerfeld, and John Galliano.” Day to day, she lives in Mother jeans and her favorite black Isabel Marant wedge sneakers. (“They are sold out everywhere! Tell her to make more!”) Her favorite red-carpet look, along with dramatic peach Atelier Versace she wore in 2007, is “the vintage Balmain I wore when I won the Oscar [in 2009].” The Oscar that is in Spain, by the way.
So Penélope will continue with her double life: film and family, L.A. and Madrid, English and Spanish. She’s not above some Spanish wearing either. “Say it, estúpido. Or estúpida!” she chortles. “But gilipollas is the best word.” What’s that? “It’s like asshole. Gilipollas is a great word. Promise me you’ll end the story with it?” Okay, persistence wins. And Penélope Cruz is not a gilipollas.
Article and pictures sourced from Harpers Bazaar.