Penelope Cruz puts ‘torture’ of early work behind her

Spanish Oscar winner Penelope Cruz said Wednesday that putting a firewall between acting and her private life -- even when working with husband Javier Bardem -- had put a stop to the "torture" of her early years in the industry.

Penelope Cruz puts 'torture' of early work behind her
Penelope Cruz during a press conference in Cannes. Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / AFP

Presenting her new film “Everybody Knows” by Iran's Asghar Farhadi at Cannes, Cruz told reporters that she and Bardem made a point of not taking their personal life to the set, or their work home with them.

“When I was in my 20s, I thought the more I would torture myself and the more I would stay in character for months, the better the result would be,” Cruz said.

“We (she and Bardem) have very similar ways to work and maybe I did that experiment when I was younger because we both started very young.”   

READ ALSO: Golden couple of Spanish cinema return to open Cannes festival

The pair arrive on the red carpet in Cannes on May 8th. Photo:Alberto Pizzoli / AFP

Cruz and Bardem, who many celebrity watchers say have claimed the place vacated by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the star couple firmament, met on the set of the sexy 1992 Spanish dramedy “Jamon Jamon” when she was still a teenager.

But it took working together on Woody Allen's “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, which premiered at Cannes in 2008, to light the romantic spark.   

Cruz took home an Academy Award for her supporting role as a hot-tempered artist in the film. She and Bardem, who won the previous year for “No Country for Old Men”, are respectively the first Spanish man and woman to win an acting Oscar.

Equal pay

Bardem, now 49, publicly declared his love for Cruz, 44, at Cannes in 2010 and they married the same year on an island in the Bahamas owned by their friend, US actor Johnny Depp. They have two children together and jealously guard their privacy.

“I have a life and then I have my job and that allows me to jump many times in one day from reality to fiction — I love that beautiful dance back and forth from both dimensions,” Cruz said.

“It would not make your life better, I think, if you used certain things from your private life (on a film set) so the fact that we know each other and trust each other so much only helps.”

Cruz and Bardem have starred in nine films together, including last year's “Loving Pablo” by Spanish director Fernando Leon de Aranoa, in which Bardem plays infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and Cruz a journalist who falls in love with him.

Cruz said that while she enjoyed working on “Everybody Knows” with Bardem, in which they play ex-lovers thrown together decades later, “it's not something that we plan on doing every two years”.

“No, that will be once in a while if we feel it's right, like in this case,” she said.

Farhadi, who has frequently worked with his own wife, fellow Iranian director Parisa Bakhtavar, said the couple seemed to maintain a “healthy” distance from the industry. 

“I really admired how Penelope and Javier kept fiction and reality, life and work, separate,” he said.

“They are the very symbol of a happy couple and it was a pleasure to see what deep respect they have for each other.”   

With the sexism and abuse debate roiling the international film industry and drawing the spotlight at Cannes this year, Cruz and Bardem were asked if they were paid equally for the film. “Yes, actually,” she said.

  By AFP's Deborah Cole


French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.