Penelope Cruz Reveals Her Biggest Hurdle When Portraying Donatella Versace in Interview with Gwyneth Paltrow

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Penelope Cruz Interview
Photo: Interview magazine

When it comes to acting, Gwyneth Paltrow says there are few people who love the craft more than her friend, Penelope Cruz. 

The Oscar-winning actresses have a candid conversation in the latest issue of Interview magazine, and in addition to talking about their decades-long careers in the industry, Cruz also offers an inside look into how she prepared to take on the real-life role of Donatella Versace in Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

In the TV series, Cruz portrays the Italian designer in the '90s, around the time when her brother, Gianni Versace, was murdered. She tells Paltrow that the biggest issue she faced with this role was mastering Donatella's accent.

"I worked a lot with a dialogue coach to find the way that Donatella speaks, which is a little different from the way she spoke in the ’90s," she explains. "The accent that she has, it’s Italian with a very international flavor --very rock ’n’ roll. I didn’t want to do an imitation of Donatella, or a caricature. I wanted to try to capture the essence of who she is."

Cruz says she had "that conversation" with Donatella prior to taking on the role and hopes that she is pleased with how she portrayed her in ACS.

"I really hope that when she sees the show, she’s going to be happy. I’m sure there are going to be scenes that are hard for her to watch, because it’s a lot about the loss of her brother, which, of course, I have so much respect for," she insists. "I did it with all my love. From that place of devastation, she had to keep this company going in his honor. I don’t know if she ever said this, but it was a way of keeping him alive."

The 43-year-old actress also opens up about starting her career at such a young age and how her aging process in Hollywood is a little different from other actresses. 

"I’ve spent most of my career trying to make myself older, for different reasons," she admits. "Journalists have been asking me, since I was, like, 22, 'Are you afraid of aging?' That is such a crazy question for a 22-year-old girl or, for that matter, for a 42-year-old. I combat that craziness by refusing to answer the question."

While Cruz seems to be at the height of her acting career, there is still one thing she's yet to do. The mother of two says she's still "not brave enough" to act in a play. 

"I studied theater for years, and I’ve never been more nervous than when I was in front of the other students," she confesses. "Somebody offered me Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo on Broadway, and I was really tempted, but I said no. Call me a coward."

While fans may not see Cruz on the stage any time soon, they can catch her in American Crime Story next year.

Here's a look at her on set dressed as Donatella.