Before she buys a Eurail Pass, however, she still has two back-to-back projects to finish. The first is the Almodóvar film, a dark love story in which she plays the lead. Then comes Nine, a movie version of the Broadway musical, from director Rob Marshall (Chicago). Cruz, who will portray the seductress Carla, studied ballet as a kid in Spain, and she recently spent a day working with Marshall on the choreography. “In one day my hands were already peeling,” she says. “When I saw that I said, you know, ‘This is happiness.’ Working with your body and sweating and bleeding.”
Through all her endeavors, Cruz says she operates with one vow in mind: Never give in to fear. “I’m very strict with that,” she says. “I try not to run away from things because I’m scared of them.” That might mean accepting a role that terrifies her (in Nine, for example, she’ll be doing her own singing for the first time) or confronting a friend with an unpleasant truth. “When you feel you have to say something to someone,” she says, “and your heart starts going fast because it could be controversial, I always vote for saying it.”
It also means facing up to the monster. That pesky inner killjoy, Cruz has realized, will always be hiding in her consciousness somewhere, but she’s finding new ways to outwit it. “With time, you get more at peace with it,” she says. “I used to get very upset about it, and very angry at myself. But now, when it comes, I just send it away."