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Penélope Cruz: ‘I start every shoot like it’s my first movie’ | USA

Voice Of EU



One day many years ago, Penélope Cruz received the call she had always dreamed of, but refused to answer the phone. Why? She thought it was a joke. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure, come on’,” she recalls. But her family insisted: Pedro Almodóvar really was waiting on the other end of the line. Could she please take the phone? To the teenager it seemed impossible: the director of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, the film that made her want to act in the first place, was asking after her? When Almodóvar congratulated her on some of her early roles, she had no choice but to concede — it was him.

That conversation would become the first of thousands, blossoming into a friendship and a close collaboration that is still ongoing, 30 years later. She was too young to appear in Kika (1993), he believed, but cast her for a few minutes in Live Flesh (1997), fitting in a birth scene that would become famous. Then promising talents, they both became stars. The electricity produced with him behind the camera and her in front crackled through All About My Mother (1999), Volver (2006), and Pain and Glory (2019). Almodóvar then asked her to give birth again for Parallel Mothers, only now Cruz takes up most of the screen time. The resulting film opens on October 8 in the United States and Spain.

Penélope Cruz kisses the Copa Volpi on September 11 in Venice.
Penélope Cruz kisses the Copa Volpi on September 11 in Venice.ETTORE FERRARI (EFE)

“Actors look for challenging material, characters that are different from us and from what we’ve done before. In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to take on several complex roles. Many of them have been with Pedro,” Cruz, 47, tells EL PAÍS at the movie’s Venice Film Festival premiere. She became the first Spanish actress to win the festival’s Volpi Cup for best actress, adding this to her Oscar won for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

“Of all my roles with Pedro, it may be the most complicated,” she says of the film. “There is no rest on a mental, emotional, even physical level. It’s a non-stop rollercoaster, putting [my character] on the ropes,” Cruz explains of Janis, her role in Parallel Mothers. Janis is a resilient and imperfect woman – in other words, a human being. She throws herself into raising her baby, while also fighting for her grandfather to be exhumed from the mass grave where he was buried in 1936. “I think it’s important for this subject to travel around the world. As my character says, it’s about giving the relatives the chance of a dignified burial. How can you deny someone something like that?” she says, in reference to Spain’s many Civil War-era grave sites that remain untouched to this day.

The film is heartfelt, even more so for a performer who considers herself “intense.” “It’s a way of life that one does not choose. Maybe I feel the good things more, but the bad things are very, very close to the surface,” she says. “I am really affected by other people’s energy, so if a person enters a room and is not doing well and I know them, it sticks to me. Sometimes too much, and I wish I could put a little more distance between things. But I think that’s one of the reasons why I unconsciously chose this job. It’s not that I live out acting as therapy, but it’s a kind of relief,” Cruz added.

Pedro is demanding, but he explains what he wants so well

Penélope Cruz

Cruz has said she is ever grateful for the “luck” she had to star in two films, Jamón, Jamón and Belle Époque, in the same year, 1992. She has not looked back. The daughter of working-class parents, Encarna and Eduardo, from the Madrid suburb of Alcobendas, she broke Hollywood long ago and is now one of Spain’s most recognizable figures worldwide. “She may be the best-known Spaniard outside her country, apart from Real Madrid and Barcelona soccer players and, perhaps, Rafael Nadal,” wrote Esquire magazine a few years ago. Shooting in Spanish, English and Italian, she is the only performer with at least one award in Spain (Goya), Italy (David), the UK (Bafta) and France (Césars).

The success hasn’t calmed her nerves one bit. “I start every shoot like it’s my first film. And sometimes the first few days are a bit nerve-wracking. I’m afraid, insecure. But I don’t want to lose those nerves, because this job can’t be done otherwise,” she says. “No two people are the same, so it’s a bottomless pit of searching and learning, and that’s what I love the most. Sometimes the time when you are preparing the character makes you happier than actually playing her, or seeing the result,” Cruz adds. Her deep embrace of her alter egos takes time to let go: “It has happened that I have to take a moment and say, ‘This character has to get out’. Sometimes I feel like they have been inside me for months, and of course it affects and changes things.”

A role like Janis was particularly hard to let go. On set, actorly tears led to real episodes of sobbing. The austere plot also affected the shoot, with hardly anyone cracking jokes. “I don’t know if a character like this can be played without suffering, from a relaxed place. I only had a bad time the last week, when I was very emotional. Pedro was interested in shooting the moments before and after that explosion of feelings, and for that you had to go through the peaks. It was practically daily,” she explains. “He is demanding, but he explains what he wants so well. He takes care of you emotionally. It was a tremendous journey. Now, if he were to invite me onto another film in a few months’ time, it would just be a case of where do I sign up?” Cruz says. The bond she shares with Almodóvar is held with enormous trust, and the ability to understand the distinction between friendship and work: “We change a bit during the shoot. It’s not that we’re colder toward each other, but it creates a somewhat different relationship.”

It’s hard to believe that an Almodóvar film featuring Cruz and her Spanish actor husband Javier Bardem has never been considered. “It happened in Live Flesh although it’s true that we didn’t have scenes together. I think the three of us would like that, but it should happen naturally,” she says. Right now, she is busy with other projects. “My current mission is a documentary that I’m going to direct and which will take two or three years. I can’t say what it’s about,” she says excitedly, albeit somewhat mysteriously. In recent years she has spoken out about climate change and migrants’ rights, including support for the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, if one is looking for clues, and the shantytowns of Madrid’s Cañada Real, as well as Spain’s longstanding gender-based violence problem.

She has already completed filming on Yo soy uno entre cien mil (or, I am one in a hundred million) about childhood leukemia, and in a few months, a feature film by by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, Competencia oficial, will be released in Spain with Cruz at the helm. The timing is due to Covid-19, because the actress normally takes breaks between her projects: “I don’t usually shoot one film after another. I did it for 15 or 20 years, but once I had my children that changed: my priority is to raise them and have time for them”. No script can compete with that.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

Voice Of EU



Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

Voice Of EU



Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.

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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

Voice Of EU



House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites and, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.


This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.


“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.


Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”

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