LONDON - Penelope Cruz plays a barren wife in one of her new movies and a doomed fiancée in another, but her own family life is strictly off limits.
The 39-year-old Spanish mother of two has played the dark-haired beauty for directors Pedro Almodovar and Woody Allen, toyed around with Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and engaged in intimate scenes with Michael Fassbender as his fiancée in this year's Cormac McCarthy-scripted "The Counselor."
Apologizing profusely, Cruz delayed an interview at a London pub focusing on her other new movie, "Twice Born", which opens in the United States this month, for a half hour so she could rush home to feed her infant daughter.
Later, when asked how she and husband Javier Bardem share childminding chores, she said: "I don't talk about them, in interviews, my kids. I don't talk about them because I really try to protect them from that other part of the business."
The Madrid native does talk about the roles she is taking now that she is on the young side of middle age, roles that may surprise fans.
"I love not feeling safe when I get to the set," said Cruz, wearing a dark-coloured parka to counter the pub's chilliness.
The "not safe" role she wants to discuss is her portrayal of Gemma, an infertile woman, in "Twice Born." The film had mixed reviews for its European run during 2012.
Based on a book by Italian author Margaret Mazzantini that Cruz says she loved, the film portrays a love affair between a daredevil American photographer, Diego, and Cruz's academic researcher set at the time of the 1990s Bosnia war.
In it, Cruz embodies just about all possible versions of herself - from the 22-year-old who falls in love with Diego during a boisterous, drunken gathering of young artists and intellectuals in Mostar, to the married woman coming to terms with her infertility, to the older woman in her late 40s raising the child that she and Diego enlisted a surrogate mother to carry for them.
Cruz who pulls off all three stages of her character convincingly. And she is firmly of the opinion there is life for actresses after 40 - especially in Europe.
"In Europe it's very possible and also because it's not my main ambition. You know I love my job and I feel lucky when I can work because I need to work but it's not my number one priority - that is family, and then my job that I'm very lucky to have.
"But I think Europe is a little bit different from maybe growing up in LA, or working just there, especially if you're a woman ... The actresses I look up to in Spain and in the rest of Europe, they work if they want to work."