Aug 5th, 2008

Woody Allen’s new film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, may be a sexy romp about a ménage-à-trois, but none of its stars — Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson — wanted to talk romance at the premiere Monday night at the Mann Village Theater in Westwood.

Bardem and Cruz, who reportedly have been dating since last fall, walked the red carpet separately. The pair first worked together on the Spanish film Jamon, Jamon.

“That was 17 years ago, a long time,” was all Bardem would say of working with Cruz again.

Johansson worked the press line minus fiancé Ryan Reynolds and was testy when asked if she has made any wedding plans yet.

“I just got engaged!” she protested. “Give me a little time!”

Even testier was Cruz, who refused to answer what it was like to kiss Johansson in the film. “She and I have been asked that question a thousand times, and we are sorry that we don’t have any funny stories to tell you about it,” she told disappointed reporters.

But count on Allen to bring the innuendo: The director was pulled away from an interview for group photos with his two leading ladies and when he returned, he deadpanned, “I’m sorry — I had to go fondle Scarlett and Penelope.”

Bardem’s leading-man charm, which was hardly on display in his Oscar-winning role as a sociopathic killing machine in No Country For Old Men, is well showcased in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which was shot in Spain. He plays an amorous painter juggling three women: fiery ex-girlfriend Cruz, the open-minded Johansson and her much-shyer friend, played by British actress Rebecca Hall (The Prestige). Fans were more excited to see Bardem than the film’s female stars, chanting his name loudly until he crossed the street to sign autographs.

Spanish financing led to the film being set in Barcelona, Allen explained, and thus his first time working with Cruz and Bardem. “If you’re going to make a movie in Spain, and you need an actress that’s tempestuous and beautiful, and a deep, complex, sexy actor, who (else) am I going to go to?” he said of the Spanish superstars. “I’m so thrilled they were available, I can’t tell you.”

Bardem was delighted to work in his native country again. “It was easy, because I was at home,” he said with a smile. He declined to play tour guide to the visiting cast, though. “That’s a hard job. You don’t want to do that. I was like, ‘Sorry, guys, I have to study,’ and go back to the hotel.”

Working with Allen in his last few films, including Match Point and Scoop, might have rubbed off on Johansson. “I’d love to be able to develop a project to direct,” she said. Besides filling the director’s chair, the actress is continuing to raise funds for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. “And trying to relax, too,” she said with a laugh.

Johansson worked the red carpet in a “surprisingly comfortable” orange chiffon gown by Monique Lhullier. “I liked the color and it’s midsummer and I thought we needed a little Hollywood glamour,” said the star, who’s known for her retro-chic fashion sense.

Hall, who’s filming an adaptation of The Portrait of Dorian Gray, starring The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian‘s Ben Barnes, wore Prada head to toe.

“I very nearly didn’t wear the shoes because they’re so high,” said the 5-foot-10 actress. “I should probably stop adding inches to myself, but I said, ‘You know what? They’re really great shoes.’ ”

Allen, whose aversion to Los Angeles is hardly a secret, said he’s “marking off the days” until he can return to New York. He’s in town for a month to direct the one-act Puccini opera Gianni Schicchi, which he said he’s wholly unsuited for.

“It’s like taking a guy who’s never had a flying lesson and saying, ‘Go ahead, fly this plane to California,’ ” he said. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no idea what they rant about in Italian when they sing. I’m just doing my best. If it comes out good, it’s because everyone helped me and they’re all so good.”

Trademark insecurity firmly intact, Allen noted: “They could have made a wiser choice than me, let me tell you.”

Source: USA Today






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