Five years ago, when Almodóvar was hatching Volver, he had thought of Cruz for the role of the teenage daughter. Even now, padding barefoot around her house in ripped jeans and one of those new red Gap T-shirts, with two adoring mutts in tow, the actress still looks no more than 16. "I began working when I was 15," she says, "so for many years I did in my career what was appropriate. I don't think I could have done this character five years ago." Now, carrying with ease a movie filled with more seasoned Almodóvar veterans like Carmen Maura and Chus Lampreave, she's able to plumb almost any emotional depth—and breadth—for Almodóvar, who in turn has publicly announced plans to build more movies around her. I hope he will, for though Cruz remains optimistic that Hollywood will recognize her talent, it's hard to imagine anything coming her way this side of the Atlantic to match the satisfaction of rounding out the Almodóvar harem.