‘Official competition’. Penelope Cruz: “We will never reveal which directors inspired my character”

The actress premieres at the San Sebastián Film Festival the film in which she stars alongside Antonio Banderas and Óscar Martínez. The actors agree “The reality is sometimes much worse than the fiction that appears in the film”

“The reality is worse than fiction. We actors have a lot of nonsense.” This is how forceful Antonio Banderas has been at the comedy press conference Official Competition, which stars with Penélope Cruz and Óscar Martínez who has inaugurated the Pearls section of the 69th edition of the San Sebastian Festival. The film tells of the process of creating a film that is directed in fiction by the actress who plays an extravagant director and must face two somewhat cretinous actors who rival each other.

Official Competition has arrived in San Sebastián preceded by a great reception at the Venice Festival in which Penelope Cruz was awarded the Volpi Cup for the film by Pedro Almodóvar Parallel Mothers, although the president of the jury when presenting him with the award also praised his performance in Official Competition.

Penelope Cruz: from erotic myth in Jamón Jamón to diva in Venice

In a crowded press room in front of more than a hundred media from around the world, the three actors have confessed that despite the laughter that the absurdity of some scenes in the film can unleash, reality often surpasses fiction and they are not so far from reality.

The scenes are not so exaggerated, the things that happen in the actors’ rehearsals are often worse than what we see in Official Competition. We actors have a lot of nonsense, “said Antonio Banderas.

For the Malaga-born interpreter, the directors of the film -the Argentines Mariano Cohn and Gaston duprat– “they have been very successful in criticizing the behavior of stars in the art world. It has been great how they find a ridiculous point in these situations and have shown a great ability to laugh at it and accompany us without complexes to play those characters. I have lived in Los Angeles, I have worked in Hollywood, and I have lived and seen things that in short … Although I can guarantee that I would never take advantage of the death of a partner to boost my career, “the actor said with a laugh.


For Penelope Cruz, who takes on the role of an egocentric and cyclothymic film director in the film, she explained that the character had been created by all of them and had been inspired by many directors who all of them have worked with throughout their lives. history. Although he warned: “We have built a kind of Frankenstein with our imagination, what we have described and the people we meet. But we will never reveal the real names of who they are who have inspired us to create this Frankenstein.”

In addition, for the actress the film is very interesting because it achieves something that is really difficult: “Take black humor out of very absurd situations without ridiculing an actor. And that the preparation of an actor seen from the outside can really seem very ridiculous, “says the artist. In addition, she acknowledges that it has been very reflected in some situations portrayed in the film.

“We have all done things like this and you need to go through preparation processes like this, but these characters cross the line of overwhelming the other. And it was very interesting that this was shown because there are not many films that talk about what happens in a shoot as this one does, with this sense of huor and Gastón and Mario have totally achieved it “, explains the actress.

Also the directors, who have connected with the press conference in San Sebastián by videoconference have explained that the process of creating this film has been very peculiar since they have worked incorporating the suggestions of the actors and allowing them great creative freedom. “We shot long shots in which we let them interact and improvise, shots of 10 or 12 minutes in which we saw unforeseen things happening, and sometimes we had to cut because we all ended up laughing. Although our intention was not to shoot a comedy, but a drama, and we ended up with an uncomfortable comedy, “explained Cohn and Duprat, who pointed out as one of their creative influences the humor of Berlanga, which is precisely celebrating its centenary this year.

In addition, the directors have explained that it was key to try to make the filming a fun experience, completely the opposite of what is usual in a filming.

A comedy with very bad milk

Antonio Banderas, who plays a multi-award-winning actor-divo, acknowledged that they had the feeling of doing something different. “There were snippets of Spanish comedy, but the spaces and the way of filming was completely different, and in these times of political correctness it is difficult to do comedy without some group feeling offended.

But deep down, comedy is something subversive and this film has a very bad feeling, it is in the very substance or soup that we breathe. It illustrates that bonfire of the vanities in which we are subjected and describes very well a universe that goes far beyond that, “explains the actor.

Also the actor Óscar Martínez, who in Official Competition plays the rival of Antonio Banderas, but in this case he is an intense, methodical, committed character, he has also recognized that the desire to have fun was key. “We really wanted to have fun and the script offered a very attractive menu not only because of the genre but because it caused us empathy and fun. And it is not easy in the cinema to have such long sequences without the mediation of any kind from the directors, with time to ride and enjoy and it was so funny that there were moments when we laughed so hard that we couldn’t continue shooting, “he recalls.

Penelope Cruz also referred to the look from the diectora, a curly red hair: “In the makeup tests there were many wigs, I took that one to try and there was no going back because to this woman with those hairs, when you walk in the door you see her and you have to run “, explains amused. A peculiar character that they created together.

“Each one contributed their share of poison,” says the director. “The protagonist is more of a plastic artist, she is more of a performer. We directors tend to be more earthly and we gave her the attributes of a very avant-garde conceptual artist and what Penelope composes is extraordinary because she has a lot of charge, great, childish, fragile, despotic , and you never know what he has in mind and that gives a lot of play to the other characters and also to the viewer, concludes the director.

Antonio Banderas: “Spain uses its actors, it does not protect its culture and we feel we have left them in the hands of God”

The press conference also had his moment for the claim when the actors were asked if Spain protects its culture as can be the case of France. Although Penelope Cruz took many detours not to give a clear answer and I assure that she has many “ups and downs” that “goes seasonally” or that it is because of “Waves, depending on who it is”, the Malaga actor did not mince words: “No , the actors sometimes feel rather used, used.

In the last general elections in television debates there was not a word dedicated to culture: not cinema, not theater, not literature, not anything. When you go to other countries and see those things like the tribute to Belmondo from France, you feel a bit left out of the hand of God, “he concluded.