The Spanish actress has wowed in every role she has tackled. Sure, Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but her career of excellence began long before she accepted the golden statue on the Kodak Theatre stage. When she first appeared on screen in the Spanish films Jamon, Jamon and Belle Epoque, she caught the eye of Hollywood producers who cast her in 1998’s The Hi-Lo Country and she hasn’t looked back since.
Cruz first starred opposite Johnny Depp in Blow and reports to us that working with him again was one of her career goals — a dream that has come to fruition with her starring role opposite Jack Sparrow himself in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Cruz plays Angelica, the daughter of the most dastardly pirate of them all, Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane).
Penelope Cruz sets sail
SheKnows: Of course you’ve made a slew of Spanish films, but what was it like playing a Spaniard in a Hollywood blockbuster?
Penelope Cruz: It’s beautiful. It’s great when you’re playing somebody that is your own nationality to bring into a story like this where even the historic element of it is important. I love that I could use my own accent [laughs].
SheKnows: So was it difficult to find this character, and how was learning the swordplay, because you’re so quick and lethal with a sword in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides?
Penelope Cruz: For sure, in a character like this, it really helps to have those costumes — to be in the real locations such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. All of that helped me a lot to try to imagine what the pirate world in that time was. Because it’s so far from our reality, to create a character to like is all about your imagination, and I think it really helped to be in those beautiful places.
SheKnows: Making an action movie like this, sure you did Sahara, but what was it like with the scope of Pirates?
Penelope Cruz: We had a lot of preparation. We started a couple of months before the shooting started. They taught me with a lot of patience. So I knew most of the choreography because they put them together like choreographies almost like when Rob Marshall and I did Nine together. So it was very helpful that I knew most of them before we started shooting — of course everything that was safe because of my situation of being pregnant. They were really protective at every moment, and that meant so much to me.
SheKnows: What did you most enjoy about playing Angelica?
Penelope Cruz: She was a lot of fun to play. She’s got a lot of layers, a lot of colors. She’s a real pirate. She thinks like a pirate. But, she’s full of conflicts and contradiction because she’s really obsessed with justice and what’s fair. She wants people to be good. She wants to save her father’s (Blackbeard, Ian McShane) soul, but at the same time she cannot stop lying and tricking Jack and manipulating others to get what she wants. Contradictions like that is always fun to play.
Jack & Angelica: angelic love?
SheKnows: What is the backstory for you and Jack Sparrow? It seems like there’s a lot of conflicting feelings there.
Penelope Cruz: They have a story from the past where she felt very betrayed by him. She still likes him very much, but she wants some type of personal revenge. I think they are both trying to run away from the feelings they have for each other.
SheKnows: Would you like to see more of your character and more Pirates?
Penelope Cruz: I mean, at least, I hope she’s not going to die of hunger [laughs]. But I have the hope that because she finds the doll and she had some of those voodoo powers from her father, maybe she’s going to make him come back. But she can’t die alone, no.
SheKnows: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall has such wonderful things to say about you. What do you enjoy most about working with him?
Penelope Cruz: Rob is a gentleman from another era. Someone described him recently as iron wrapped in velvet and I thought that was a beautiful way to put it because it fits him perfectly.
The Joy of Johnny
SheKnows: Reuniting with Johnny Depp after you guys did Blow a decade ago, how was it? Was it an immediate click?
Penelope Cruz: It doesn’t matter how much time goes by when I see him, there’s an instant connection. We have had a lot of fun together. We have a very similar sense of humor. I have such a great time with him [coyly smiles].
SheKnows: What do you think it is about Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Jack Sparrow that is so endearing to audiences?
Penelope Cruz: Johnny has something unique and iconic with Jack Sparrow. It’s incredible what he did with that character. He committed to it and went all the way. It is so brilliant what he did with Jack Sparrow. Everyone loves Jack. He’s irresistible. He’s such a funny, peculiar character. Johnny is really, really talented. I’m not saying anything new, we all know that [laughs].