Penelope Cruz took on the challenge of playing a single mom with a big secret in ‘Parallel Mothers’ full of twists and turns


Months after rehearsals for the twist-filled new drama “Parallel Mothers” began, Penelope Cruz could feel her motherly instincts taking over.

The Oscar-winning actress plays a single mom with a huge secret in the Spanish film and rose to the challenge of delving into the complex role.

“When we were rehearsing with a doll, and someone from the props came and tried to get the doll just for me to rest… I was reacting like a lioness, like an animal. Like, ‘Don’t take the doll from me,’ ”Cruz remembers.

“I hadn’t planned on reacting like this, but I love when these things happen,” said Cruz, who has two children with actor Javier Bardem. “It does mean something about (how) the process really took hold. “

Cruz stars in “Parallel Mothers”, which is now playing in theaters, as a photographer named Janis who gets pregnant at the start of the film.

Janis is assigned a hospital room with a young woman, Ana, who is also expecting a child. Their lives come together quickly, kicking off a complicated journey filled with drama.

“Something is happening in this hospital that is going to tie their lives forever in a very special way,” Cruz, 47, told the Daily News. “Then my character faces huge moral dilemmas. She has to make some very difficult decisions. She has so many problems. She is a good person, but she also knows how to lie very well in life.

The Spanish language film is written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, with whom Cruz has worked often throughout his career. Previous collaborations include “All About My Mother” of 1999 which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and “Volver” of 2006 which earned Cruz a nomination for Best Actress.

They spent four months rehearsing for “Parallel Mothers,” which Cruz said took maximum focus and effort from all of the cast and crew to meet Almodovar’s high standards.

“I love this job,” said Cruz. “I have enjoyed acting since I was little. You’re still a student, and you never get to a place where you feel, “Oh, now I got it all under control. ” That will never happen. Every movie starts from scratch in a way, because you’re going to be living with this new person for a while, and getting to really know that person, or give it a try.

The film presents a subplot in which the character of Cruz seeks to find the remains of his great-grandfather, who died during the Spanish Civil War, in order to put an end to his grandmother.

“It’s great that Pedro is talking about something like that, because his films travel everywhere,” said Cruz, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” in 2009.

“This is something that is not just a problem of our country. So many places in the world can relate to this.

Cruz was named Best Actress at the Venice International Film Festival for “Parallel Mothers” after the film premiered there in September. She received the equivalent honor from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association this month.

She appreciates the fact that Almodovar never judges any of her characters and has stated that she can’t judge Janis either.

“Everyone is like, ‘Oh, I wonder, what would I do?'” Said Cruz. “That’s what I love about the movie, that everyone could ask these questions and understand that whatever she did, I think the audience would at least understand.”



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