The trip to the summit of Penélope Cruz: from Encarna’s hairdresser in Alcobendas to the National Film Award

Penélope Cruz must accumulate awards on the shelves of her house: an Oscar, the Volpi Cup in Venice, the best performance in Cannes, three Goyas… And yet in Spain she had not yet won the National Film Award . Today, the Ministry of Culture has paid off this historical debt and has awarded her this prize -which, on the other hand, her husband De Ella Javier Bardem had since 2008- in recognition of her 30-year career. This recognition is delivered annually and is endowed with 30,000 euros.

The actress is one of the best in the world and this has been recognized by the jury that has chosen her “for the successes achieved in 2021, which join all those collected in an exceptional career. Last year she rose as the first Spanish actress to win the Volpi Cup at the Venice Festival. And her fourth nomination for her Oscar awards raises her as the most nominated Spanish actress in history, ” recalls the minutes of the jury. They also add that “these awards are added to others that have already recognized her talent as the award for best female performance at Cannes, along with her co-stars from ‘ Volver’, the Oscar for best supporting actress, the honorary Cesar, the Donostia Award in San Sebastián, and the thirteen Goya nominations, of which he has won three”.

“She is an iconic actress whose brilliant legacy enriches the Spanish cultural heritage”, said the jury of this award that José Sacristán collected last year , and that filmmakers such as Isabel Coixet , or Fernando Trueba , or actors such as Antonio Banderas , with whom Penélope shared a cast last year in Official Competition .

This award consecrates a Spanish actress who never imagined those eternal afternoons in her mother’s hairdressing salon, Encarna, in Alcobendas, which would go so far. In fact, in several interviews, the artist has said that it was there that, from the ages of 5 to 13, she spent entire afternoons listening to clients tell her deepest and most intimate secrets. The actress says that this was her acting school, since she discovered realities there so different from the women of the neighborhood, who talked about her marriage, divorces, extramarital relationships and family problems openly.

She was barely 15 years old when she decided to be an actress after seeing ¡Atame!, by Pedro Almodóvar, and he was the one who would make her an international star years later. But at that time she couldn’t even imagine it and she focused on advancing, pursuing her dream by learning dance first. She studied classical ballet for nine years at the National Conservatory of Madrid, four at the Cristina Rota School, another three of Spanish ballet with Ángela Garrido, and several jazz courses. Ella Cruz could have been a dancer, but the cinema had a place for her.

It didn’t take her long to find her first role. While still underage, at 15, she went to the casting for The Ages of Lulu, by Bigas Luna. But the director gave him the bad news that he could not participate in the film because he was not 18 years old, but he assured him that he would call him for another project. Penelope was in for a big surprise when, three years later, Luna kept her promise and called her for Jamón, Jamon . This 1992 film, where she would share the limelight with the one who would later become her husband and father of her children, although at that time she was not even in her dreams. But that movie catapulted him to fame and made him an erotic myth due to its high sexual content.

The actress does not regret having starred in the film, but the large number of sexual scenes she had to shoot caused her a kind of trauma. “My mother understood that I was so upset with my first movie. I didn’t take it very well. I had a strong reaction to anything sexual or sensual for a while. I cut my hair very short. I didn’t do love scenes, not even kisses, for years,” he told The Sun. A radical position that could have put her career at risk, but as she herself says, she followed what her heart asked of her. But then she was just a girl, inexperienced, and this is how the actress herself remembered it when she shared a video on her Instagram of how she gutted the movie on TVE in less than a minute in one of her first interviews.

The love for Javier Bardem arose many years later, in 2007, when they worked together again in Vicky Cristina Barcelona . It was also this film with which she won an Oscar for best supporting actress. Bardem jokes that he thought twice about asking her out, since Penelope has a strong character, similar to her character in the Woody Allen movie . It is also something that Penelope herself says. She has always had an iron personality.

And it was also at this time that he made his leap to Hollywood. There she has had the opportunity to work for Disney and become Angelica Teach in Pirates of the Caribbean , she has worked alongside Matthew McConaughey in Sahara and has been one more passenger in Murder on the Orient Express as Pilar Estravados. She had a whole career to stardom, which she began when she was just a girl, listening to the clients of her mother’s hairdressing salon, Encarna, in a middle-class neighborhood of Alcobendas.

At the last major festival that recognized her work, in Venice, the actress dedicated the award to Pilar Bardem, the actress who died this summer, and who was also her mother-in-law. The actress is the first Spanish interpreter who won the Volpi Cup, which she received very excited. Going up on stage, she thanked Pedro Almódovar, whose muses she is, for the opportunity, and assured that the award was “100% for Pedro” whom she thanked for his “trust and inspiration” and his “search for the truth, within and off the set. A story of the actress and the director that began with Carne Trémula in 1997, and that made the actress an international star with Volver in 2006.

With this film he won his second Goya and his first Oscar nomination. A film that, according to the EFE agency, “demonstrated the understanding with Pedro Almodóvar, who created a one hundred percent La Mancha story at the service of all his actresses, among whom were Carmen Maura , Lola Duelas and Blanca Portillo , a cast that won the performance award at the Cannes Film Festival”.

The jury that has chosen Penélope is chaired by Beatriz Navas Valdés, general director of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) , and Elisa Rodríguez Ortiz, deputy general director of Promotion and International Relations of the ICAA, acted as vice president. As vocals have acted Virginia Yagüe Romo, at the proposal of the Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain; Olatz Arroyo Abaroa, at the proposal of Literary Authors of Audiovisual Media; María Aranzazu Aranguren Ilarregui, at the proposal of the Union of Actors and Actresses; Almudena Carracedo Verde, at the proposal of the Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media
(CIMA); and the journalist María José Blanes Martínez, Gonzalo de Pedro Amatria and Francisco Javier Calvo Guirao, at the proposal of the ICAA.

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