Photo: Penelope Cruz and her son Leo
Spanish actress Penelope Cruz said that becoming a mother has made her more “picky” in choosing her roles and helped her more deeply understand her latest character.
In an interview with British daily The Guardian, published Wednesday, Cruz said motherhood has helped her understand her role as Gemma in “Venuto al Mondo” (Twice Born), a Spanish-Italian co-production that premiered last week at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“A woman that doesn’t want children obviously can be happy without children. But one that wants to have children that much ... it’s very difficult for her to be happy. Of course I understood all that before I became a mother. But after you give birth you understand in a much deeper way what Gemma was missing,” Cruz said.
Cruz is married to fellow Spanish actor Javier Bardem and they have a one-year-old son, Leonardo.
“Venuto al Mondo” is directed by Italy’s Sergio Castellitto and based on a book written by his wife, Margaret Mazzantini, a couple with whom Cruz previously worked in the 2004 drama “Non ti muovere” (Don’t Move).
Gemma is an Italian woman who travels to Sarajevo with her teenage son, Pietro. They are in that Bosnian city so she can tell him about his deceased father, Diego (played by Emile Hirsch).
Through flashbacks, we learn Diego’s story and also discover that Pietro is not Gemma’s son.
In the interview, the actress said she was still breastfeeding Leonardo while shooting the film, which has some scenes with newborn children.
“Some of these babies were only a week old. And so they were smelling me and that made them want to eat. But I was playing a woman who couldn’t feed because she hadn’t given birth! That created a very strange but alive dynamic between me and those babies,” Cruz, winner of a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” said.
“You cannot learn something like that. And this film is full of moments that could not be planned.”
During the interview with the British daily, the Spanish actress also said she is saddened that more attention is not given in the media to the war in Syria.
“I’m always depressed that it doesn’t occupy more space in the newspapers. That should be the main story instead of elections. So many children are dying every day,” she said.
“It’s the same with so many areas in Africa that are in disastrous situations.”