Hollywood has a long way to go when it comes to pay disparity, but at least that isn’t the case in the household of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. When asked if the husband-wife Spanish stars both received the equal paychecks for their latest movie, “Everybody Knows,” which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, Cruz broke out a sly smile. “Actually, yes,” she said on Wednesday morning.
The Oscar-winning actress then spoke about how she works with her real-life partner, who she first collaborated with in 1992’s “Jamon Jamon.” “We don’t take the characters home at the end of the day,” Cruz said. “We have similar ways of work. The fact that we know each other and trust each other helps.” She doesn’t expect to make a habit of it. “It’s not something we plan on doing every two years,” she said. “That will be once in a while, if we feel it’s right. I don’t think it will be too often.”
Cruz admitted that she had a different approach to roles when she was younger. “When I was in my 20s, I thought the more I would torture myself and the more I would stay in character for months, the better the result would be,” Cruz said. “I learned it’s not really related to that. I have a life and I have a job. That allows me to jump from reality to fiction.”
“Everybody Knows” is the first Spanish-language film from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”). He said that he met Bardem five years ago, and he worked on several drafts of the script, crediting his two leads for helping him craft a story about a woman (Cruz) who returns to her native Madrid, only to deal with a crisis where she needs the help of her ex-boyfriend (Bardem). “King Lear” helped inspired the story for its themes about fathers and daughters.
“He had a Spanish teacher,” Cruz said about her director, who she called a sponge. “Because he doesn’t sleep so much, he was memorizing all our dialogue. So you can never trick him, never fool him. He’s involved in every single thing.”
Shortly after “Everybody Knows” screened, the film sold to Focus Features for U.S. distribution.
After the press conference ended, Farhadi asked to take the microphone back. “I thought perhaps we could go on to one last point,” he said. He noted there were two Iranian films in competition at this year’s Cannes, but director Jafar Panahi couldn’t attend with his film “3 Faces” because he’s under house arrest in Iran for charges of making propaganda.
“I spoke to him yesterday,” Farhadi said. “I have great respect for his work. I continue to hope he will be able to come. I think there’s still time. I would like to send out this message. I hope the decision will be made for him to come. What’s important for him is not to catch a plane, but to see how spectators view his film, how they’ll react. It’s a very strange feeling to be able to be here, whereas he cannot be here. This is something I have difficult living with. It’s wonderful that he’s continued to work in the face of such adversity.”