'Elegy' star Cruz spars with media in Berlin


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BERLIN -- Penelope Cruz joined the ageism debate Sunday when she told a crowded Berlin press conference that she wasn't afraid of growing old. "I'm looking forward to it," she said following the press screening of her heavy competition title, "Elegy." "Coming back and using that experience in my work, is the only way I look at it."

Despite putting in a stellar performance in the English-language drama, her looks, the loss of them, power of them, or price of them, even, proved to be the most popular topic at the conference.

The subject proved a sensitive one for the down-to-earth star and L'Oreal model whose face is plastered all over Berlinale HQ Potsdamer Platz in festival sponsor L' Oreal advertisements.

"I don't engage in that debate because I'm allergic to it," said Cruz after a journalist began reading a quote, or mis-quote, which suggested that Cruz wasn't considered a serious actress because of her looks.

"I know that sentence before you finish it. I never said it," she said becoming the second actor this week following Daniel Day-Lewis to complain about misinformation in the press. "Fortunately my career has had plenty of offers of roles that have had nothing to do with that. ... I never thought like that. I never considered myself to be this or that. I don't want to name it, name what has been named by others because I have just never got into that."

Director Isabel Coixet added a comic twist to the situation later on in the conference when she spontaneously mis-translated a long-winded quote Cruz was asked to make for the Spanish press by saying, "She said I'm a fucking genius."

However, Coixet proved less adept at amusing her audience, with one reporter saying he found the film about an affair between a professor and his student so depressing he wished he had stayed away.

Still, it wasn't for lack of trying.

"It is my landscape," Coixet said of the emotional drama. "It's what I'm comfortable with. I always dreamt of making a comedy but I don't have the tools for it."

Kingsley also fielded some trashy questions. When asked if had fallen in love with Cruz, the British actor told the international crowd: "Isabelle created an environment where Kepesh and Consuela fall in love, but that is not Ben and Penelope. If deep respect and affection can be translated into love in other languages then that is fine."