Penelope Cruz says she lost her first lead role in a Hollywood movie because the team wanted to include a nude scene at the last minute.
The actor, who was just 21 years old and on the cusp of stardom, said she decided to follow her heart even when it meant losing a big opportunity.
The Oscar-winning star, who recently played the role of Donatella Versace in FX's "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story", said she was sent an "amazing script" for a lead role in a major American movie and she took four months of English lessons before flying to Los Angeles for her final audition.
"When I get there, completely jet-lagged... they say, 'Oh, we have to see you in the office.' They wanted to add something to (my contract). They said, 'If you want to do the screen test, you have to accept that there are going to be some naked scenes that were not in the script'."
"I said, 'Why didn't you tell me 24 hours ago, before I got on the plane?' Even if I did movies before that had scenes at that time, I didn't want to go through that. I felt like, for a few years, I'm just going to say no to whatever, when my heart is telling me no," Cruz said in an interview for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
The actor said she refused to sign the new contract but decided to go through the screen test as planned even though the director was livid and had stopped talking to her.
"I called the heads of the studio. I didn't speak English, but in that meeting, I spoke English. I said, 'If you think you can treat people like this with me, it's not going to work. My family loves me, I'm gonna get back on the plane, and I don't care if I don't do your movie. But you know what? I'm gonna do your screen test.' They looked at me like something was wrong with me."
Cruz did her screen test before leaving Los Angeles.
"I knew that I didn't get the movie. But I can tell you today, I am 44 now, it is one of the moments where I felt most proud of myself. In that moment I felt, 'The day that I die, I will remember this moment'... I remember the feeling was so special to me, it made me stronger. And I think from that 'no', many other 'yes' have arrived in my life."
An advocate of Time's Up movement, Cruz said she thought it was important to share the story.
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