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Interview: Penélope Cruz Talks ‘The 355’, Her Character Graciela, Reuniting With Edgar Ramirez & More

I don’t know about you, but I cannot get enough of good spy-thrillers. It’s a genre with many films to choose from, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one like The 355.

Boasting an insanely talented group of actresses including Penélope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o, The 355 is sure to delight audiences – not only with its powerful performances but with its smart storytelling and great action.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the film’s stars, Penélope Cruz, about The 355. The Oscar® winner told me about what it was like bringing her character, Graciela, to life, reuniting on-screen with co-star Édgar Ramírez, how the characters capture people’s realities and much more!

Read the full interview with Penélope Cruz below:

Penélope Cruz as Graciela - The 355
Penélope Cruz as Graciela in The 355. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Hi Penélope, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. How are you doing today?

Penélope Cruz: I’m doing fine and you?

I’m doing pretty well, thank you! I’d like to start off by asking about how you became attached to The 355 and what was the process like since not only do you star in the film, but you and your costars all have equity in it as well.

Penélope Cruz: When Jessica [Chastain] called me, it was very early on. You know, there was not even a script. So, they actually proposed to me to bring some ideas because it was so early on, and I proposed to play this fish out of water character since I had not seen that very much in this kind of genre. And I thought it could bring some humour and it could make some people maybe identify with her.

Édgar Ramírez as Luis and Penélope Cruz as Graciela in The 355. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

When we first meet your character, Graciela, she is meeting Luis, played by Édgar Ramírez. What was it like reuniting with Édgar and creating that rapport with him again, especially since the relationship between your characters is very crucial to the film’s story? 

Penélope Cruz: Édgar and I are very close friends. We played brother and sister, Gianni and Donatella Versace and that was really intense. We had to create a very strong bond and it just stayed for life. We trust each other 100 percent. I think in this movie you can see with these characters that something has happened between them in the past but we don’t know what it is – but there is something there. I imagine if there is a second film, we will discover what that is. I like that it is a very mysterious thing that is never explained.

I’m glad that you brought up the potential of a sequel because there’s a lot to explore with Graciela. Is there something specific you would like to see explored with your character going forward if there were to be a second film?

Penélope Cruz: I think, first of all, I hope the movie goes great because the people who are seeing it have great reactions, and this makes me very happy! But if we do a second one, I’m interested to see what is the next mission. They need each other, they need to be together. I think there is a very interesting arc with Graci in the first one and that kind of let us know that if there is a second one, she would want to be involved and ready to be an agent in the field with this particular team. But there’s still some of the fear of ‘No, maybe I shouldn’t be here…’ but also because she’s the one in the group that is a mother.  

But it is interesting to explore as this is how it is for the life of some of these women because it’s an extremely risky profession, and how do they combine that with being a good mother and also being away. That would be interesting to see because some of the women we met while doing the research have lives that we have not seen in any movies; things that you could not even imagine.

Penélope Cruz as Graciela, Jessica Chastain as Mace, Diane Kruger as Marie and Lupita Nyong’o as Khadijah in The 355. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Your character Graciela is very grounded in comparison to some of the other characters. To me, she was the emotional core of the film and of the group, so what was it like tapping into that part of the character?

Penélope Cruz: Yes, I think that makes sense because she’s the one who has children waiting at home. She feels responsible for that; she doesn’t want to be there because she wants to be with them. But at the same time, she’s needed in the mission and she’s going to save other people by being there. So, it’s this conflict that’s really interesting and I like that all the characters are real human characters. They’re not robots. In some of these films sometimes, everyone is good at everything, nobody has fear of anything, and we didn’t want to do that. 

All these women are great at what they do; they’re great at many things but not at everything. And my character is the one that has the most fear because of being a mom and because she’s not an agent in the field. So, to me it was important to have that – to tell a story that is close to the supernatural because of a mission like that – but that you understand what their skills are and how brilliant they are, but they’re still real women. They’re people with their own insecurities and their own fears.

Thank you so much for taking the time Penélope. I hope you have a great rest of the day!

Penélope Cruz: Thank you, you too. Happy new year!

Thank you, same to you!

Be sure to catch The 355 when it releases in theatres on January 7!

The 355 Official Synopsis

When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands, wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Oscar®-nominated actress Jessica Chastain) will need to join forces with rival badass German agent Marie (Diane Kruger, In the Fade), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Oscar® winner Penélope Cruz) on a lethal, breakneck mission to retrieve it, while also staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan, X-Men: Days of Future Past), who is tracking their every move.

As the action rockets around the globe from the cafes of Paris to the markets of Morocco to the opulent auction houses of Shanghai, the quartet of women will forge a tenuous loyalty that could protect the world—or get them killed.

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