Penelope Cruz: “There is always a glass of red wine at mealtimes. It is a must”.  



Frank Rousseau with Penelope Cruz 


When she enters the room, it’s as if you had invited the summer sun to partake of some rosé and croquettes. Penelope Cruz embodies all those Spanish hot flushes that make Hollywood stifling. So what if she still pronounces it Oléwood because of her Madrid accent?! The main thing is that we speak the same language when it comes to wine!


Considering the intense lifestyle you lead, how do you relax? How do you reconcile your roles as a wife, mother and star?

I do the housework! I discovered its benefits when I was preparing for the film "Volver". I like to smell the cleaning stuff so much that as soon as I get somewhere I want to dust, wash, iron, scrub, etc. I remember cleaning my mother's house from top to bottom as well as my sister's. Since then, I've got into the habit of it. You know, I'm a mother and a good mother doesn't let her children grow up in a place where cleanliness is dubious! Now if you ask me if I'm exhausted, I can answer without the shadow of a doubt, yes. But oh so happy!

 Have you always been a house fairy?

Not at all. When I started in Hollywood, I was staying in luxury hotels where everyone was doing everything they could for me. The housework was done for me and room service was delivered to me with a good bottle of Champagne on the house!  As a result, I developed the unfortunate habit of being served. Let me tell you an anecdote. One day, in Madrid, my mother prepared a tray for me with the dishes I like. Well, you know what: after eating, I put the tray on the floor in front of my door. Mum then said to me, "Why do you put your tray in the hallway? ». I stupidly replied, "It's an old habit I got into at the hotel”. I can tell you that I didn’t do it again! She was pretty upset with me! 

How do you class yourself when it comes to cooking? Do you prepare good food for Javier?

Since I played a chef in "Woman on top" many people think I am a real cordon bleu cook. But when it comes to cooking, I suck. I almost set fire to my house one day! To create an illusion on the screen, I had just learned how to make a few dishes by rote. But, I do have a bit of an idea for paella. A good paella is like true love, it takes time to let it simmer and requires first-class ingredients, otherwise it's bland! Other than that, I try to eat a balanced diet, but I love frying, pasta and pizza. I also like to bite into a slice of bread, covered with salt and oil. Finally, there is always a glass of red wine at mealtimes. It is a must. In summer, it’s fresh, fruity rosé. I usually drink it alone because Javier is not very fond of wine. 

You must drink rosé with tapas or pata negra ham...

My favourite is a glass of wine with chocolate. I know. I know. It may be heresy for some, but I can assure you it's a great combination! Try it and you'll see!

What is the first thing you look at when you buy a bottle of wine?

I read the label. Obviously!  I find out about the growth, the year and the reputation of the vineyard. I am not the kind of person who remains attached to one wine more than another. I can “experiment” with other wines if I get good feedback from friends or acquaintances. Otherwise, I tend to trust the sommelier or the wine merchant. At the end of the day, I'm open-minded. However, there is one thing I can't stand, and that is the co-operatives that put wine in plastic bottles for you.  I guess it has to be more economical than glass - maybe. Whatever, this just doesn’t suit the way I drink wine. For me, wine involves a cork, a corkscrew and glass. If it doesn’t, I have a mental block. Besides, plastic is really disgusting. Javier campaigns against the spread of plastic that is killing our oceans, our rivers and our soils. We must return to simpler and more eco-friendly packaging. When you buy apples, weigh them and put them in a paper bag. Apples all packed in trays are a waste! It’s the same for grapes etc. So serving wine in a plastic bottle is heresy!


Interview by Frank Rousseau, our correspondent in Los Angeles