During a tribute to her career at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), Penelope Cruz recalled the Betamax videotape store that opened in her neighbourhood, in a suburb of Madrid, when she was a child and that made her discover cinema.
It was there where she rented all the films of Spanish movie director Pedro Almodovar, she said.
“I watched, and I laughed, I cried, and I learned,” she said at a star-studded benefit on Tuesday evening at the museum.
“I would not be here tonight, being honoured by MoMa, if I had not had the privilege of working with brilliant directors who have inspired me, taught me, helped me grow as an artist and as a person. I want to thank them all tonight, and specially my Pedro.”
The recognition comes a decade after the museum paid the same tribute to Almodovar, who has worked with Cruz in seven films.
The latest movie by the director, Parallel Mothers, starring Cruz, opens in the United States on December 24. On Monday, it received two Golden Globe nominations.
An exciting moment of the night was when Almodovar sent a video message to Cruz, congratulating her on the recognition.
He recalled in the video a dialogue with the actress that they had when they promoted All About My Mother (1999).
“You told me that when I get old you will take care of me. I’m not that old yet, but I hope you keep your word,” he said, provoking laughter in the audience.
“When I am an old man, I hope you come and become, in this case, my mother. It would be a reflection of all the mothers that you have been for me throughout these seven films.”
Among those paying tribute to the Spanish actress at the annual film benefit were Anne Hathaway, Diane Kruger and Rebecca Hall.
Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, Spanish singer Rosalia and fashion designer Zac Posen also attended the event.
The benefit featured clips from some of Cruz’s many films: Broken Embraces (2009), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), and Volver (2006), among others. Cruz won an Oscar for best supporting actress in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Hathaway remembered that moment during Tuesday’s red carpet.
“I went up to congratulate her and, I don’t know if it was her sisters or her friends, but two beautiful women ran down from the top balcony and they were so happy for her,” Hathaway said.
“And I have women like that in my life, and I was just so happy to see her, you know, the authentic joy that the women in her life felt for her.”
The benefit has been presented since 2011 by Chanel. Cruz, who wore a long red Chanel v-line dress with an open back, has been an ambassador of the fashion house since 2018.
MoMA’s film benefit raises funds to bring great works of film to the museum’s collection. The museum’s film department includes more than 30,000 films and 1.5 million film stills.
Cruz joins a group of previous MoMA honourees that includes Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney and others.