The day before the Disneyland premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the actress Penélope Cruz lounged back on a couch in a bright hotel room in Santa Monica and put her hand over her heart in a gesture of great emotion.
“Making this film had great meaning for me and I will remember it for all of the rest of my life,” the 37-year-old star said with a kind of moist-eyed conviction that you don’t typically associate with summer popcorn films. “This became much more than a movie.”
The reason went beyond scripts and box office — the Oscar-winning actress and her husband, Javier Bardem, welcomed their first child, Leo Encinas Bardem, in January and that meant during the six-month shoot for “Pirates” that Disney, director Rob Marshall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, star Johnny Depp and the rest of the cast and crew all tilted toward the needs of an expectant mother.
“They made a few adjustments and they made me feel really safe and protected,” the Madrid native said. “It was a beautiful time. The movie shoot was long, it was six months, but I only have beautiful memories of it. Every day of it was wonderful. Every day we laughed. Sometimes Rob was worried that Johnny and I would never stop laughing. It is more and more important to me to work with people who are nice human beings. It doesn’t matter to me how talented someone is if they are not good and kind people. The older you are the more value you give to decency.”
In the film, Cruz plays Angelica, a pirate vixen who has an intimate history with Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and possible blood-ties to the fearsome Blackbeard (Ian McShane). It’s a pretty straightforward role for an actress whose credits include “Woman on Top,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Blow,” “Broken Embraces” and “All About My Mother,” but Cruz said any character can be elusive on the page and on the screen.
“There is always a moment when something clicks and you understand your character on a different level,” Cruz said. “You never know when that will happen. It might happen while you are preparing for the role, it might happen one month into the shooting. This role was great. It’s so much fun to play a good liar. I’m such a bad liar in real life so it’s exciting to get to do bad things and be bad.”
Cruz reserved special praise for Marshall: “Rob is like a gentleman from another era. There are no people like that anymore. He walks around and everyone he sees he comes up with something to say to them to make them feel good. He was like that after shooting for 14 hours a day for six months. He is generous and he can handle so much pressure. Iron wrapped in velvet — but the velvet is as real as that iron.”
— Geoff Boucher
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