Penelope Cruz: “During the filming of ‘Parallel Mothers’ we had to pick ourselves up from the ground crying to each other”

Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit are the parallel mothers of Pedro Almodóvar, who says that he has never put a character in such a difficult situation. The actresses explain in this interview how hard it was to film this movie about the truth

One has a strange sense of time travel when sitting across from Penelope Cruz, (Alcobendas, 47 years old, 27 years old), Volpi Cup for Parallel Mothers, from Pedro Almodovar Oscar winner from the Hollywod Academy, and more than 60 films-, already Milena Smit (Elche, 25 years old, 2 films, actress by accident). They are supposedly two parallel mothers, but the staging for the interview could well be that of the mother and daughter holding hands, protecting each other, or the mother who meets her self 20 years ago.

Penelope, in a very elegant black Chanel suit, and Milena with a look by Prada very groundbreaking with colored socks that cover her boots. The chemistry between them is evident, and has been key for a film that hits theaters this Friday tells a peculiar story of crossed maternity wards, and is combined with a kind of spin off on historical memory, which in the end tells us about all the things of the importance of the truth coming out. We are welcomed by the Ritz Mandarin hotel in Madrid, and one word resounds when we hear them talk about this trip together: intensity.

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Question: Penelope, as a mother, what do you have in common with Janis that she has served you in Parallel Mothers?
Answer: I had a very tough journey during filming and rehearsals. I didn’t want to ask myself what I would have done in Janis’s situation. But he didn’t need that answer to interpret it either. In fact, that distance in which I felt her as someone very different from me, was very good for me. Once the film is finished I don’t see her so different from me in some things, and surely I would have done something similar to what she does. She talks and he tells what he has discovered, although he risks losing everything, being alone once more, but he already has a relationship with Ana and he sees what kind of person she is, and he cannot live with that bad conscience of hiding the truth from her. . I understand her more now than in the entire preparation and filming process.

Pedro Almodóvar opens the contest with ‘Parallel Mothers’ a forceful statement about motherhood and historical memory

Q: How did you feel on that shoot?
Penelope: I got into an obsessive thing about how I was while filming. And when someone with props approached me and took off the doll with which we were rehearsing, Milena was dying of laughter with my reactions and I was not aware because she said: “No! The doll is already holding me is mine.” I really felt very uncomfortable when it was removed. The props team was scared when they tried to remove the doll from me, they did not understand why I wanted to spend five hours wanting to hold a doll. And when the girl arrived there was really a very healthy competition between the two, but we did not talk about that issue. Nor with Pedro. That had to be there.

Penelope Cruz: Milena and I fought to see who conquered the girl, who she was going to play with, in the arms of who she wanted to be because we were possessed by the characters. And when these things start to happen on a set they go far beyond something mentally planned by you. They surprise yourself and it is usually a good sign to carry out that role.

Q: Milena, in your second film you have already worked with a director and an actress who have already won the Oscar. How has it been working with them?
Milena: Penelope has made it very easy for me. We have been fortunate to connect a lot and she has worked with him more times. I have no training as an actress, and my entrance to the cinema has been in a very casual way and that your second film – the first was Thou shalt not kill with Mario Casas- be with one of the best conductors in this country is the best training, it is a piece of master in which I have learned every day. And I have learned not only at the interpretive level, but also to relate to the characters and the story, I have learned the importance of each department to get us to take a film forward, the involvement of all of us who were on the set. One of the most important things in this process has been to be aware that we all contribute our grain of sand and that there are no ranks in that regard, because we were very close.

Q: Penelope says Pedro Almodóvar that this has been the most difficult situation for a character who has ever written, how did you work with him?
Penelope: Oh yeah? Is that what it says? The script is very well written and very exciting and we couldn’t help but imagine what these women felt going through this and the same thing happened to both of us.

We rehearsed for 5 months and the first few times when we read the scenes we couldn’t stop crying for the first hour

He was guiding us and he was very respectful with that process because he knew it was a very good sign because we were connecting with that essence of the characters. But he was more interested in filming what happened just before or just after that explosion of tears, but for that we had to go through there. And thanks to that marvel of the script, we spent every day during rehearsals and during filming and it was a great idea for him to look for that tone and to flee from melodrama in some way.

He wanted something very dry, very sober But we had to go through those places but he did it with so much respect, with a lot of strategy but at the same time he did not hide from us that it was a strategy and he took us to very beautiful places, we felt some days when we almost had to pick up one to the other on the ground crying, but he accompanied us in all that and we remember him as something beautiful and special. There are women who are in that situation, even in worse things and we had to give those women something beautiful and special, we had to try to give everything because Pedro Almodóvar also gives everything.

Question: What is happening in the cinema so that there is this explosion of women and feminine stories? Is this serious?
Penelope: I hope you are serious because the truth is about time. There is a greater presence of women directors, screenwriters, producers and at festivals and awards because they are giving us more opportunity to do these jobs. It is a long road and it is still missing but it seems that it is finally changing.