She is the first Spanish heroine to get an Academy Award and to receive a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Penelope Cruz, who is married to fellow Spanish actor Javier Bardem, tells TOI about her work, family and B-town aspirations.
In the last decade or so, almost all the films that you have done have been critically-acclaimed. How do you choose these films?
I love working in Europe and most of the times when I'm working in America, I tend to choose smaller projects with less action because that's where I find the most interesting characters.
You have collaborated with Woody Allen again, four years after your film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which you got an Oscar nomination.
Working with Woody was easier this time because I knew him, so I wasn't so nervous because of all the stories you hear about him. He is peculiar and unique and different, but it is really a blessing to spend time with him. He is one of the funniest people in the world. Every day he does something that surprises you and that you will remember forever.
How different is it working in mainstream Hollywood, art-house cinema and regional cinema?
Hollywood mainstream cinemas are mostly big-budget and majestic with a lot of attention from the masses, so you are on your toes most of the time. However, art-house cinema has limited audiences and are heard about by the word of mouth, so they are far more relaxed in terms of attention from the crowd.
What kind of cinema appeals to you
Cinema that has some message or maybe something that adds meaning.
You are a working wife and mom. How do you juggle your responsibilities effectively and when and how do you find the much-needed 'me' time?
I don't need much 'me' time because I believe in 'we' more. However, I am trying to take up only one or two movies a year so that I can spend enough time with my baby and husband when he is at home.
What is a day in your life like?It's like every normal person. I get up, work out, am with my baby, spend time with the family and do my work — designing and all that.
You have been to India in association with your charity work. Are you likely to visit the country again? Right now, I am a little occupied with my baby, but yes, directly or indirectly the charity continues. I will visit India. I love that country.
In your two decades as an actor, is there a feeling that you have not done enough? Is there a dream role that continues to elude you? Have you ever felt restricted in the kind of roles you get because of your ethnicity?
No, I think I have been very fortunate to have the kind of roles that I have had. I loved them, but the only thing that I always feel is I could have done it better. I am a critic of my own work. I always keep thinking of various other ways in which I could I have a certain role.
Who is your favourite co-star and director?
My husband (Javier Bardem).
Would you ever do an Indian film?
India is a culturally strong country and very traditional. Bollywood is now making its mark and people in Hollywood want to work with the Indian stars and in Bollywood too. I would love to work with Shah Rukh Khan.