Spanish actress and model Penélope Cruz made her acting debut on television at the age of 16 and her feature film debut in 1992. She won an Academy Award in 2008, becoming the first Spanish actress in history to receive such a distinction. Barbaros Tapan briefly interviewed the famous actress about cinema and her life for Skylife.

It’s been a very exciting year for you. How do you describe yourself in relation to your career regarding this particular year? 
Very lucky and very grateful. Very grateful for these directors to give me the opportunity to play these different parts so different from each other and from myself. That's always what I look for: diversity and challenges. And this is a very good year in that way. 

I feel that for the past few years, maybe with motherhood and marriage, you are a lot more natural when it comes to attending premieres and meeting the press. How did you find that balance? 
I don't know if I have that balance, but I've been working since I was so young, around fifteen and sixteen. Of course, you learn to deal with all those things. Acting is not just learning your job to be on the set, to play your character. There are also the other things you have to learn to manage. And of course, when I started, I thought I was an adult, but I was almost still a teenager. You just learn. And also, your priorities change a lot, and you worry about different things. And like you said, when you become a mother, in that second everything changes, all your priorities. Now, I think about myself and my health because I have to take care of my kids. I pay attention to be healthy, to be strong. But you don't have concerns about other things that are not important, things that you worry about when you're 20. Then, you really start worrying about the things that really matter and that can make a difference in your life. 
I’d like to talk about what you said about having to stay healthy in order to take care of your family. Sometimes you put yourself in a very dark place for a movie. How do you come out of it in order to be a mother? 
Well, I never do. I never bring work home with me and I haven't done that since I was in my 30s when I realized mixing things too much didn't make my work or my life better. There is the character and I try to jump into that fiction 100% when I'm on the set as many times as needed. And to be able to go 100%, I need to be able to remove myself from that at the end of the day and have my life and my reality. There’s a very strong distinction between fiction and reality. When things are mixed the whole time, I feel like you do them halfway. And I spent months and months preparing for the character. But when you are shooting, everything is so intense, especially in scenes. Give everything you’ve got but later, you need to leave because otherwise this is not healthy. 

Although your latest movie Everybody Knows was a Spanish movie in all accounts including the directing and the script, Farhadi wrote the script in Farsi and had it translated into Spanish. Was it hard to work with an Iranian director and a translated script?
He's very humble about the way he works. I love that he’s a director who is able to ask questions, not just answer questions. I think humility is very important, and it’s what makes him so big. And he's constantly learning and searching for answers. He was always like that in the process of creating the story and also on the set. He had sent us material, and he moved to Spain two years before the shooting and he had a Spanish teacher. He really tried to understand our culture and I think he has managed to do a Spanish movie that is fully Spanish because he said everyone involved in this production is Spanish. And there are no clichés in the film.

Have you paid any effort for Asghar Farhadi to understand the Spanish culture, to avoid clichés, and to make sure he got it right?
We didn't provoke those situations, we didn't force it. We were there for him if he needed to talk about something. But at the same time, it was a long process where he was experiencing what it was like to live in Spain. He just moved there, and he was writing. He was sleeping five or four hours a night. The rest of the time he would be walking around Madrid or the outskirt neighborhoods, just getting to feel our culture, the people, and the energy. I think that is a very valuable.

You are very talented with languages. How many do you speak?
Four but not perfectly. I've made movies in Italian, French, English, and obviously Spanish. I love languages and I love doing accents. Next is a Cuban accent, so I am very excited and scared about it. Terrified, but very excited because that is the first time I do it. 

Do you think that the films in Spanish are equal to English productions?
It seems like for the last 10-15 years or more, things are happening in that direction thanks to Pedro, Alfonso, Iñárritu, Guillermo, and some of the great Italian directors now like Garrone and some new ones. There are more international films and more languages. Slowly I really feel and hope that the audience is more ready to see a film in a different language. 

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