Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz

by | February 22, 2009 at 9:00 PM | 81st Academy Awards

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The first award of the night went to Penélope Cruz for her performance in Wood Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona.’ “Has anyone ever fainted here?” Cruz asked breathlessly. “I might be the first one?”

See photos of Penelope Cruz.

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After regaining her composure, the actress thanked Allen for writing such splendid roles for women over the years and marveled at her perch center stage at Hollywood’s biggest paty. “As a child, I always stayed up to watch the Academy Awards,” she said. “I thought of this as a moment of unity for the world. Art will always be our universal language and we should do everything we can to protect its survival.”

Backstage, Cruz had more to say, including translating what she said in Spanish during her on stage speech. “I said that I want to dedicate it to all the actors of my country and that I want to dedicate it to all the people that are now watching there at home and that our feeling that this also belongs to them, I want to dedicate it to them.”

She also buttered up her director. “I’m going to go call Woody right now. He sent me flowers last week when I went to BAFTA. But I call Woody sometimes to just say hello and I adore him. I think he’s so funny and charming and so peculiar and unique. And of course, today I have to talk to Woody to thank him.”

“When you’re working with Woody Allen, you know that you can trust the person that you’re working with. If he doesn’t like something he will tell you. If he likes it, he will tell you. He’s not a man of too many words, but he’s honest and that’s what counts for me. We just trusted him.”

And Cruz was the first one to win in the new Oscar presenter format, where five former winners come out and completely butter up the nominees. How did she react? “It was amazing to see all those women up there, the women I admire so very much. And all the things they said about all of us, all the nominees… that was a magical moment, and it happened a second before they opened the envelope, and I didn’t know if I was going to survive it.”