Seven years ago, Pedro Almodovar told Penelope Cruz he had the perfect role for her. He was planning to write a film about a woman married to an abusive loser who molests their teenage daughter. Almodovar told her that, even though she was in her mid-20s, she was made to play the daughter. Last year, Almodovar got back in touch with Cruz to say he had the perfect role for her. He had finally written the screenplay about a woman married to an abusive loser who molests their daughter, and Cruz was made to play the mother. As so often with Almodovar, she couldn't believe what he was proposing. After all, Cruz is only 32, and could easily pass as 22. And it does take some believing the first time you see Cruz on screen as Raimunda, the sexy, tough, mendacious, vulnerable, melodramatic mamma. But by the end of the film, "Volver," she has given the performance of her life. Simon Hattenstone speaks with Penelope Cruz.