Penelope Cruz plays cancer patient in new Spanish film

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz
via Twitter

Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz returns to Spanish cinema after a nearly six-year absence, playing the role of a woman fighting breast cancer in director Julio Medem's "Ma Ma" which opens on 11 September in Spain.

"This is one of the most wonderful characters that I will ever be offered to play," the 41-year-old actress said during an interview with radio Cadena Ser ahead of the film's release.

Read: Breast cancer: myths and facts 

"I fell in love with the story of this woman, who is like a goddess, a sage," Cruz said, before adding that at first the role "frightened" her.

'Sexiest woman alive'

The Spanish actress plays Magda in the movie, a gutsy unemployed teacher with a young son who faces her cancer diagnosis with optimism and courage.

"It was very important to me to take risks and at no time did I worry if I looked beautiful, was ugly or very ugly," said Cruz who was named the "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire magazine last year.

"It is a tribute to all women who face this disease," she added.

Read: How to do a breast self exam

Cruz rose to international prominence in 2001 with roles in Hollywood films "Vanilla Sky" and "Blow".

She won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as an impetuous artist in Woody Allen's 2008 comedy "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

The actress last made a movie in Spain in 2009 when she starred in Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces".

She also made a very brief appearance in Almodovar's 2013 "I am So Excited" alongside Antonio Banderas.

Cruz is married to fellow Oscar winner Javier Bardem. The couple have two children.

Read more:

Risk factors for breast cancer

More black women die of breast cancer 

New blood test for early detection of cancer relapse

Image: Penelope Cruz from Twitter 

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