It may come as a surprise to hear that Elena Anaya appeared in Justin Timberlake's SexyBack video.
But don’t be fooled, there’s more to Anaya than MTV. A proven actress on the Spanish cinema scene, she isn’t shy of a challenge - which is clearly demonstrated in The Skin I Live In. We catch up with the Spanish beauty about reuniting with complex filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, working with screen icon Antonio Banderas and Cannes Film Festival.
LOVEFiLM: So, how was Cannes?
Elena Anaya: Cannes was excellent. It was such an experience being there with the film. We didn’t know what the reaction was going to be.
LF: Was it nerve-wracking?
EA: Yeah. You know, it’s not an easy film. People (who saw it at Cannes) really went through the story and they’d gasp and be very surprised.
LF: How did you get involved in the film? Did Pedro come to you with the script?
EA: He (phoned me) and said ‘this is a project that I’ve been promising for two years and in the last version of the script I can see you all the time,’ and I said, ‘Give me the script.’ And we had a fabulous afternoon of like 5/6 hours just talking about the film. It was such an amazing story and what a big opportunity and a pleasure (to be) involved.
LF: You’ve worked with him before, did you stay in contact throughout making the last film?
EA: Yes but not very much. Madrid is not that big so it’s not difficult to run into each other. I admire him so much – he knows that. He’s very special. When he called me for (The Skin I Live In) my heart stopped. I just couldn’t believe it.
LF: Throughout your career you’ve taken on many challenging parts. How did you approach the role of Vera?
EA: Well, first of all trying to live those journeys at home. That’s what I have to do. (Pedro) knew exactly what he wanted so I was ready to go up with a lot of ideas. Of course you have to do your homework. You have to approach the character trying to be the character, not trying to be like the character.
LF: The film features voyeurism. Nowadays, we don’t really think we’re safe unless we know we’re being watched…
EA: Personally, I’m so scared of cameras. They can destroy your life. You know, everybody has a camera now. Like, in the movie, sometimes you ask yourself who’s watching who. (Vera) has a way of seeing through the walls.
LF: Are you conscious of the camera when you’re filming?
EA: Sometimes you need to work for it because sometimes you are very close up. I’m quite shy but when I’m in front of the camera it’s the character who comes up and by the time they say action I disappear. I go so far. It’s like this magical moment when fiction moves to reality. It’s creepy but I love it. I love it so much.
LF: And what was it like working with Mr Antonio Banderas?
EA: He’s such an incredible guy and a very generous partner. He has amazing experience and helped me a lot, made me feel very comfortable. (It) took one minute to see each other through ourselves and say, ‘I know you, I know who you are.’
You can’t be good in a play or in a film if you don’t work for your partner. Your work belongs to your partner and the same with the opposite.
LF: How did you feel when you first saw the completed film?
EA: When I watch myself I suffer. I criticise myself so it takes me a few times to watch a film to relax and go through it.
I just had to cry for the whole film until the end and when we were finished Pedro was there. I couldn’t stop crying and he was like, okay can you just get rid of her. And then we had dinner and my eyes were so swollen and they laughed so much.
LF: How do you choose a script? What makes you decide you want to go for a role?
EA: I don’t know. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong. I think about the audience and me being part of the audience. Unfortunately my mind always chooses the most difficult scripts. I don’t think I always choose a project, I think sometimes they choose me.