Penelope Cruz is a Spaniard to the tips of her elegant fingers. “I cannot live like the people in LA do,” she tells me when we meet in Beverly Hills, wincing a little in horror at the more barbaric customs of some of the natives. Then she quickly stops and corrects herself in her lightly accented English – Señorita Cruz has perfect manners.
“Don’t get me wrong – it’s a nice city, and I enjoy coming here for work. But I can’t do some of the things people here do. They have dinner at 6pm! That doesn’t work for me. I’m a Spaniard, and like all Spaniards I’m obsessed with good food! I tried it for a year, eating early like they do here, eating very quickly, not even sitting down, and it just made me so sad.
“What are you supposed to do after that? I don’t go to bed until 2am! I still like to come to Los Angeles, but these days I bring all my habits from Madrid with me, and live like I do when I’m at home in Spain. Eating dinner at 9pm like normal people do!”
You have a feeling she could never again stir from her favourite tapas bar off the Plaza Mayor and filmmakers from all over the world would happily make the pilgrimage to offer her work. She’s in demand in Britain, Spain, France, Italy and America; she’s worked with Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar and Cameron Crowe, to name but three top directors. She’s won the coveted Spanish award – the Goya – three times, the European Film Award twice, a BAFTA and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
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