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Woman on the Verge

Yohana Cobo may have been an actress for almost two decades, but she considers "Volver" her lucky break.

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CANNES, France — Yohana Cobo may have been an actress for almost two decades, but she considers "Volver" her lucky break.

The Pedro Almodóvar film won its cast, including Cobo and Penélope Cruz, the Palme d'Or at last month's Cannes Film Festival. But Cobo only got the part after enduring Almodóvar's usual rigorous casting sessions — even though she landed her first agent in Madrid at age two, and is a household name in Spain, with a number of TV series under her belt as well as a handful of feature films. Cobo's boyishly angular face and wiry pubescent frame made her perfect for the role of the broody teenage daughter in Almodóvar's flick, but it was her performance as Isabel in Carlos Saura's "The Seventh Day" that grabbed the attention of Almodóvar.

"I've been in the industry long enough to know how rare it is to get a lucky break," says Cobo, who had to endure two months of screen tests before being confirmed for his movie. "It meant two months of living on the edge of my seat," says the actress with a grin, but she has no complaints.

"To have worked with Almodóvar is the ultimate dream of any actress, and now I will have to devise another," she says, musing that a role opposite Robert De Niro could possibly do the trick. "But I'd probably be paralyzed with fear."

Of course, her chance to walk the red carpets of Cannes meant a caboodle of couturiers offered her gowns throughout the festival. But the 21-year-old star opted for a dress by Spanish designer Carmen March.

"Obviously, I didn't want to turn up in jeans and a T-shirt, but to be frank, I really don't care that much for fashion," admits Cobo, adding that nevertheless, it meant a lot for her to be supporting a young designer.

And now that the festival is over, the actress is focusing on English lessons and savoring her time spent on the "Volver" set. "I'd mentioned to one of the crew that I'd love to keep one of the clapper boards," says Cobo, recalling how on the last day of shooting Almovódar whipped one out from behind his back and presented it to her. "It now has pride of place in my bedroom," she adds of the board, etched with the time, date and title of the movie's final scene.
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