Don't Forget Your Roots!

Since living in Spain I have been a huge fan of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

I “loved” them (notice the past tense being used?). But I could never understand why no-one I spoke to in Spain had a good word to say about either of them. In fact the majority of people hate the two of them with a passion (and as you can imagine, the Spanish are very passionate people, so much so my "research" about these two had to take place in dark secret corners, in very hushed tones).
But is it a case of sour grapes? But how could it be as the Spanish LOVE Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffiths? This is what was baffling.

Watching the Easter processions from a balcony in Malaga

So in the interest of getting to the bottom of this, I decided to “interview” (I use the term loosely) everyone I could; ranging from age 14 years to aged 82 years! I spoke to all friends, clients, customers, waiters at my favorite name it, I had a quick word in anyone’s “shell-like” (ears, for my US friends) and asked them “What the hell is the problem?

What astounded me was that the responses I got, irrespective of who I spoke to, what part of Spain they were from, what age-group they fell into, what political party they supported, what social class they were from.........they all said the same thing.

Here are the reasons they gave:

*Javier Bardem and his mother (who seems constantly stapled to his side at all events) have always been policital activists here in Spain. In fact they were regarded as EXTREME Communists! Javier Bardem on numerous occasions in the past, at rallies in Spain, has spoken about his “hatred” for capitalism and ALL things American.

In fact he openly said during this period of his activism that if he ever won an Oscar, he wouldn’t even go to the US to collect it!


*The Spanish are really quite angry that neither of them give interviews in Spain. In fact Penelope has a reputation of being quite rude to journalists who want to ask her questions. Her stock answer is “it’s my private life!” And yet, both of them are on every talk show in the US talking about that very thing-their private life.

*Any time you see a photo of either of them in Spain they look so damn miserable. Why?

*And of course the final insult for the Spanish was when they elected to have their baby in the US.

Unlike Antonio Banderas who the Spanish love,this clearly isn’t a case of sour grapes. It’s deeper than that. And having conducted my” interviews” I too feel my support for them waning at a very high speed. I don’t have a problem with people re-inventing themselves, but re-writing history? Yes I have a problem with that.

Just as a closing aside. Most people now know that Penelope Cruz’s brother is now the “arm-candy” of Eva Longoria. He is always written about as “the famous Spanish musician brother of Penelope Cruz”. Let me just tell you, no one here has heard of him (never mind heard anything this famous musician has performed). Everyone in Spain knows she had a younger brother, but that was the extent of if. Famous musician??!!! When I show my friends magazines from the US or the UK they are seething. Why? Perhaps this is just another “social climber” in the family? Who knows.

Is it OK to re-invent yourself and move on from your past? Does wisdom come with age, therefore what was said 10 years ago shouldn’t influence people now? Should what we said when we were younger come back and haunt us now? Is being “politically astute” more important these days than being sincere, or have they sold their souls, and sold out on their roots? How far should one go to "re-invent" themselves?

Would love to hear your views?


  1. Oooooh, quite a post Vanessa!!!

    I am a big fan of the two of them, I think they are great actors, as well as both being quite beautiful, and I am always a fan of the Europeans :)

    I had heard some negative stuff about them though particularly about their son being born in the US. I was surprised to hear it but, based on what you have written above, I can see why the Spanish would feel as they do - if it is true.

    I am not sure where I stand on it....I personally feel that people should always remain true to their roots, it speaks volumes about them when they do....and as we all know what a shallow place Hollywood is - and how rich European culture is - I wonder why anyone would abandon their roots for the sake of money and fame.

    Look at the French actors who are huge in France but to whom Hollywood never appealed because it would have meant losing so much - Catherine Denenuve springs to mind. So French and still acting in wonderful films in a very strong French film industry.

    I did not know that Eva Longoria's boyfriend was Penelope Cruz's brother, I never connected the two names!!

    They seemed to always people of integrity who would stand by their beliefs - I would be pretty disappointed if they weren't. That is certainly part of their appeal for me.


    Have a lovely day :)

  2. Great post! who would have known ... great research and very informative...xo HHL

  3. Ooh this is interesting, I am a big Javier and Penelope fan too! In fact my husband has been on cloud nine this week because someone mentioned he resembled Javier.
    Their behaviour is strange and had no idea about Javier's political persuasion - it's really quite intriguing xx

  4. Dear Simone, Celia and Saskia
    Thank you all for your comments. Yes, I used to LOVE the two of them also, but as Simone says, not remaining true to your roots speaks volumes.
    I knew about JB's polictal activism because they are always showing videos of his rallies on Spanish TV. Even with my "basic" Spanish, I could understand perfectly where he was coming from ;-)
    Yes, a controversial post ( just waiting for a call from one of their lawyers next ) ;-)

  5. I just finished reading the latest Vogue issue with Penelope Cruz on the cover. This is a timely post!

    I tend to distinguish my appreciation for a celebrity with my liking them as a person. Perhaps being raised in the US influenced my needing to "forgive" celebrities' oddities and quirks because if I wanted to like a wholesome celebrity there would be no one on whom to lavish my admiration.

    That being said...I find it offensive that Javier Bardem rants against one of the cultures that has made him a super star. Per the Vogue article, Penelope Cruz got her start by moving to Hollywood. I'd hate to think hypocrisy runs beneath a thin skin in both of these actors.

    As for the political passions of youth being relevant today, I'd hate to be judged for silly things I said 10 years ago. But then, I'm not a public figure and don't earn my living by being one.

  6. Very interesting indeed. I still swoon when he is on the screen. She does not do too much for me. But it is quite the ugly personal behavior back ground. I personally have reinvented myself many times over, changing for the better I hope...learning from past mistakes and letting go of what does not work...but would never go as far as they

  7. @Rebekah- You couldn't have met a bigger Javier fan than me. What I now find grating is their hypocrisy. Penelope Cruz never does magazine interviews/spreads in her own country! I admit what we may have said 10 years ago shouldn't cloud us now. But when you were perhaps only 30-35 years when you were advocating these ideas, then JB wasn't a child. He knew exactly what he was saying.It's the hypocrisy for me that is now intolerable.When PC is being interviewed in the US she plays up her Spanish roots (because it comes across as very cute), but behind the scenes it's a different scenario altogether.
    @Ruby- I'm all for re-invention, but not re-writing history. That makes me uncomfortable. As I can watch both Spanish and US TV here, you can really see the difference in behavior from both of them depending on which side of the Atlantic they are. I think that's quite sad.
    Thank you both for your great comments xx

  8. interesting post ! I still love them, well him <3

    claire, x

  9. Javier and Penelope are quite the devoted couple.
    In America Penelope to underline her Spanish culture but never gives interviews in Spain - that's a bit odd.... I'm sure it's an advise from her PR agent.

  10. Interesting, I thought it was such a shame that they opted to have their child born in the US - totally baffling.

  11. Hubby has a certain respect for Bardem as an actor, but a serious dislike of cruz. He says she's an awful actress with a whiny voice.

    After seeing some of her earlier movies, I totally understand why he thinks so. When he talks about her he screeches "Pedrooooo" to mimic when she announced that Almodovar won the Oscar. LOL

    All I can say is, it's a very good thing she worked on that voice!!

  12. This is so interesting to me! I often wonder about things and situations like these - how I view things living in the US compared to how others see them around the world. Thank you so much for conducting your "interviews"! Speaks to the curious social science side of me.I really really enjoyed this! xo

  13. Wow!!! Such an interesting article, can easily go for NYTimes.
    That is interesting that they not enjoying being part of Spain, such a beautiful country with wonderful people. Maybe something we don't know........


  14. For me it's no mystery that Penelope doesn't want the press getting too close to her private life in Spain, I have always strongly suspected she's gay! None of her relationships with men ring true for me, Tom Cruise? Come on, everyone knows he's gay. Doesn't the two biggest exports from Spain both happening to fall madly in love with each other and marrying seem a little two convenient? Not saying Javier is gay too, don't know enough about him, just that it's a business arrangement. Sad to bring a child into the relationship it if it's true, but maybe he's just playing donor to Penelope and her really partner.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your comments make my day!