Seville?s most famous daughter is ready for anything. She started out in comedy, proved herself in drama, became a sexual icon, went off to America and now, three years later, she?s back in Spain putting on a show with Don Mendo Rock, ¿la Venganza? Paz (?Peace? in Spanish) is back in town, and anything but peaceful.
In 1999 or thereabouts, a series appeared in Spain which marked a turning point in national fiction, borrowing the format of American series ?Friends? and adapting Spanish humour to it. Playing the oddball characters in "Siete Vidas" were some well-known figures from the Spanish acting scene, like Toni Cantó and Amparo Baró
, but a young actress from Seville particularly attracted the audience?s attention with her self-assurance and warmth. Her name was Paz Campos Trigo, but we all know her as Paz Vega
One fine day Paz decided to give up her journalism course, adopt her grandmother?s surname and leave her native Seville barrio of Triana to go to Madrid and devote herself to her real vocation: acting. Her looks, and above all her spontaneity, with a Seville accent thrown in, made her stand out in series like ?Más que Amigos? and ?Compañeros?, although it was ?Siete Vidas? which really launched her career. Many directors were captivated by her talent and the film industry came knocking on her door, initially offering her small parts.
We saw her in the ensemble cast of Juan Manuel Chumilla's
Zapping, as the stewardess in Albacete and Menkes' Sobreviviré (I Will Survive), and as a seductive waitress in Nadie Conoce a Nadie (Nobody Knows Anybody) by Mateo Gil. However, her first challenging role was a victim of domestic violence in Sólo Mía (Mine Alone), marking Javier Balaguer's
directing debut, and starring Sergi López
Around that time Julio Medem was looking out for a new face for his daring project Lucía y el Sexo (Sex and Lucia), and Paz got to play a girl seeking refuge on an island after the disappearance of her boyfriend; there she discovers a disturbing, sensual way of life. A great film from Medem, it was highly erotic and stood out due to its plot and the nude scenes with Paz Vega, who, in addition to her physical beauty, created a complex character for the role. In fact, that year she received the Goya for Best New Actress and became one of the unforgettable faces of Spanish cinema.
The big directors were hooked. Almodóvar
himself failed to resist her charm and insisted on giving her a cameo role in the short film El Amante Menguante, which forms a part of Hable con Ella
(Talk to Her) (2002).
Next, with typical daring and energy, she tried her hand at the musical genre, under director Emilio Martínez Lázaro, in El Otro Lado de la Cama (The Other Side of the Bed) (2002). It was a popular hit starring Ernesto Alterio
, Guillermo Toledo
and Natalia Verbeke
, along with Vega, singing and dancing in a fresh, light comedy which won the hearts of audiences and critics alike.
Teresa, el Cuerpo de Cristo
Ever since then, Vega has been at the top of her game. She drew on her sensual side again for controversial director Vicente Aranda
in his version of Carmen
(2003), based on Mérimée?s novella. Incidentally, Paz Vega was the first actress to play Carmen who really comes from Seville. Her image as the voluptuous, unfaithful, capricious cigarette seller not only made her the object of desire of Spanish audiences but also famous internationally, and so she decided it was time to try her luck on the other side of the Atlantic, following in Penélope Cruz's
It must have been her poor knowledge of English which got her the role of Adam Sandler?s Mexican maid in Spanglish, by renowned American filmmaker James L. Brooks (2004). Thanks to her good work in this, she got two more small projects: alongside Morgan Freeman
in 10 Items or Less, by Brad Silverling (2006), and with Diego Luna in Fade to Black by Oliver Parker (2006).
However, she never turned her back on Spanish cinema, which had given her so much applause. In 2006 she joined the cast of Los Borgia
by Antonio Hernández, and in 2007 Ray Loriga
offered her the challenging role of St Teresa of Jesus in Teresa, el Cuerpo de Cristo (Theresa: The Body of Christ) (2007). Like all Loriga's work, the film created great controversy, but Paz managed to give her character a dramatic side as well as the extravagant sensuality the director wanted to capture.
At that time she was also looking for opportunities in other European countries and starred in the Italian film The Lark Farm (2007) by the Taviani brothers, and the controversial Vallanzasca by Francesco Scianna, not yet released in Spain, and which generated all kinds of criticism at the Venice festival due to its portrayal of this well-known gangster. Later, Paz returned to her TV roots in the series "Lex", before deciding to move to Los Angeles permanently.
Since then we have seen her in a small but vital role in The Spirit, by Frank Miller (2008), the dazzling film adaptation of the legendary comic. She also stars in Triage, by Danis Tanovic (2009) alongside Colin Farrell, and in The Human Contract (2009), Jada Pinkett Smith?s first film, an erotic thriller in which she plays an extremely sensual, mysterious woman.
Now she is tackling another musical, Don Mendo Rock ¿la Venganza? by José Luis García Sánchez, the latest film adaptation of the famous comic parody, Pedro Muñoz Seca's ?La venganza de don Mendo?. García Sánchez, using songs by Kiko Veneno and shifting between the original play and the present, has composed an amusing collage with a sting in its tail, in which Paz Vega plays Lola, a woman who's unwise to cross. Paz sings and dances once again, and assures us she does her best, but adds that if she had to make a living with her voice she?d ?starve to death?.
Don Mendo Rock ¿La venganza?
Next year Vega will be starring in and producing Amor en Madrid, a comedy set in the business world. And shortly she will be shooting The Jesuit with Willem Dafoe
, and has another American project coming up with Alfonso Arau
Paz Vega makes film after film, determined to be someone in Hollywood. And knowing her perseverance, perhaps in the next few years we?ll see another Spanish actress garnering a statuette at the Oscars.