That the international stars Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas had never spent greater than two minutes together on the massive screen is a surprising truth.
That they had a transient cameo together in Pedro Almodóvar’s “I’m So Excited” (2013), and though they each feature in that director’s 2019 film “Pain and Glory,” their characters inhabited different time periods and thus shared no scenes.
That modified with “Official Competition,” now in theaters, a biting satire concerning the film industry and the creative process from the Argentine directors Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn.
Cruz, 48, plays the eccentric and curly-haired auteur Lola Cuevas, while Banderas, 61, is Félix Rivero, a vacuous and self-centered actor forged opposite the seemingly modest but committed Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez). Because the trio rehearses for Cuevas’s upcoming movie, each of their unscrupulous and egotistic motivations rises to the surface.
Together via video call from Recent York, where they attended the film’s U.S. premiere on the Tribeca Festival, the Spanish actors discussed their against-type roles and their thoughts on awards. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Had there been other projects you had planned to work on together before that didn’t occur due to scheduling or other mishaps?
PENÉLOPE CRUZ: No. That’s the weirdest thing. There had not been things that we were each offered and that one in all us was in a position to do and the opposite one couldn’t. Pedro [Almodóvar] sometimes tells us his ideas of things that he would really like to make with us. He teases us bringing up the opportunity of making a remake of “Marriage Italian Style.” We might like to make that with him, but we never know if he’s just joking or if it’s a possible reality.
Antonio, between the fame-obsessed Félix and the condescending Iván, who would you favor to be?
BANDERAS: Félix is conceited and frivolous, but he’s also smart. If I had to select being one in all the 2 actors within the film, I’d still probably select Félix. Iván is sly and pretends to have this purist ideology about art, however the second you might be distracted, he could steal your wallet. He’s a dangerous character. When Iván pretends to receive an award in front of the mirror, he represents how people, within the film industry but much more so in politics, can grow to be the very thing they criticize.
Have you ever ever encountered anyone that resembles Lola and her tactics in your profession?
BANDERAS: The humanities, and within the film industry specifically, are a subjective world where there are a whole lot of impostors. It’s easy to cover behind the subjectivity of the sector. For instance, in the nice schools of acting resembling Stanislavski’s method or Stella Adler, the techniques that help actors perform come from many years of testing. But there are many swindlers who try extraordinarily bizarre processes and let you know that the reality about acting is behind the teachings they’re selling. And there are naïve individuals who buy it.
Penélope, who were you channeling or mimicking in your portrayal of the capricious Lola?
CRUZ: I can’t say their names, but I used to be inspired by a number of people, although not all of them from the film industry and never all of them women. The administrators and I had watched a whole lot of video interviews of those people to take notes of the outrageous things they’d say [laughs]. I created a Frankenstein character based on them and what all of us shared on the strangest things which have happened to us on set.
How useful was the eye-catching wig to your transformation?
CRUZ: The wig helped me lots, because when Lola enters a room, she desires to be seen. She at all times believes that what she has to say is more interesting than what anybody else has to say. She just isn’t good at listening to others and could be very lonely because her ego devours her. She is insufferable, but it surely was so fun playing her.
In a single scene, Lola tortures her actors by destroying their precious trophies. What do you’re feeling concerning the importance of awards in relation to that scene?
CRUZ: I had a very good time with that scene. But since a few of them were our real awards, I didn’t need to go crazy and by accident break them for real, because we’ve worked hard to get them. They’ve value, and one should be glad about them.
BANDERAS: But when we give it some thought, the trophy is the materialization of something that has already been granted to you. Meaning that when you win an Oscar, you may put it in your country home or on the highest of a tree or lose it, however the incontrovertible fact that you got the Oscar will remain on record within the history of cinema. Our attachment to the materialization of a moment is extraordinary, and what Lola does is maybe one of the coherent scenes within the movie by saying, “Detach, man! That is symbolic. Even when I destroy this, you might be already the winner of whatever it was.” It’s funny how much we love medals and glossy things.
CRUZ: I don’t think Lola analyzes that way, Antonio. She destroys her own awards but at the identical time is able to shooting the complete movie again only with Félix playing each characters. She knows exactly what happened to Iván. But she doesn’t ask questions because she doesn’t need to know the reality. The one thing she cares about is moving her film forward. She’ll proceed caring about awards greater than anything in her life.
Do you retain your awards in a very special place?
CRUZ: No, just at home. But after I had just won the Oscar, I took it to the beach with me for a number of days.
BANDERAS: So he could get a tan [laughs].