Penélope Cruz Bonded With Antonio Banderas Over Veggie Burgers During a ‘Healthy Period’

The actor returned the favor by cooking up paella for “half of Hollywood.”

  • Penélope Cruz reveals she used to cook for actor and friend Antonio Banderas during their early years of friendship—and he’d cook for her too!
  • The actress said she was in a “healthy period” and has since talked about following a Mediterranean-style diet. 
  • Cruz and Banderas most recently starred in the dark comedy Official Competition together.

Penélope Cruz is widely known for her award-winning movie roles, sultry Spanish accent, and stunning glow she lends to her modeling career. But in a new interview with People, the 48-year-old opens up about the early days of her acting, and the one healthy meal she would cook with friend Antonio Banderas that really got her through. 

Nearly 30 years ago Cruz and now 61-year-old Banderas were introduced through a mutual friend, according to People. At the time, Cruz was studying English and Banderas was filming Philadelphia

“We were curious and full of life,” Banderas told People

In those early years of friendship, Cruz would often cook for Banderas. “I was in a very healthy period,” she told People. “I was doing these vegetarian burgers that were amazing, and I would buy ingredients at D’Agostino, my favorite supermarket.” 

In return, Banderas said he would cook paella for his dinner guests “Half of Hollywood has tried my paella,” The Mask of Zorro star told People. 

Cruz described those years as “magical” and added, “I was really blown away and happy by everything that was happening to Antonio. I remember going to the premiere of Philadelphia because he invited us. It made me think, like, ‘maybe this is possible [for me].’” 

Now, the actors remain close friends and live just blocks from each other in New York City’s Greenwich Village, according to People. But despite a strong friendship, the two actors have rarely been cast in the same films. They both had a brief cameo in I’m So Excited and were both cast in Pain and Glory, though they didn’t share any scenes. 

“It’s a mystery for us too,” Cruz told People. “A lot of people have been asking, ‘why you don’t work together more?’ When we got to America, I suppose that to put two Spanish people together was probably overdose.” 

They most recently co-starred in Official Competition, a dark comedy about a billionaire businessman who hires the best in the movie business to fund his own film. But, the two actors he hires, Félix (Banderas) and Iván (Oscar Martínez) don’t quite get along. Movie director, Lola (Cruz) sets a series of bizarre exercises to break down the actor rivalry. 

This isn’t the first time Cruz has brought up her healthy habits. In a 2017 interview with Esquire, the actress mentioned she hardly drinks at all and in a 2011 interview with Mirror, the star revealed she follows a Mediterranean diet

“I love Spanish food. My diet is the Mediterranean diet, which is good food. I eat well, but I try to eat healthy,” she said at the time. She also added that she keeps in shape by dancing for four hours a day, which stems from her training as a ballerina at a young age and has previously credited Bikram yoga for “completely changing” her body. 

“I try to avoid dairy and sugar, and I can’t eat gluten because I have a big intolerance. I eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and quality protein from free-range animals. I also drink gallons of water now, which is something I wasn’t doing. I barely drink alcohol, and I quit smoking years ago,” she previously told Hello!

We’d love to get our hands on that veggie burger recipe, but in the meantime, we’ll be heading to the theater to catch her newest film!

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