Parallel Mothers: Strong Women–Penelope Cruz

In Pedro Almodovar’s melodrama, Parallel Mothers, Penelope Cruz’s Janis has her own secret that’s weighing on her: The baby girl she’s brought home from the hospital is not hers. She was accidentally switched with the daughter belonging to teen mother Ana (Milena Smit). Although her first instincts are to run and hide (and call an attorney), a chance encounter later causes Janis to slowly let Ana into her life until she divulges the truth.

“Because she’s a good person, she’s forcing herself to be put in a situation where she will have to speak the truth,” Cruz says of why Janis decides to risk losing the baby by reconnecting with her biological mother. “Imagine the process of going through something like that and putting together the strength to speak.”

Cruz says she spent about four or five months finding the character for writer-director Pedro Almodóvar’s script. She says this includes the “process of drying our own tears, because he didn’t want our tears … to mix with, with whatever it was from the character.”

Cruz, who is a mother of two, says she’s “somebody that cries a lot more than [Janis] or would express things in a different way.” She likes that there’s a point in the movie after the discovery “where Janis has that explosion and she’s not just crying, but throwing up on the floor and passing out. I think, also, the audience needs to have that with her.