If you think learning the steps on Dancing with the Stars is tough, the competition is a cakewalk compared to Penélope Cruz‘s big dance number involving ropes and a sheath of satin sheets in her new movie, Nine.

“It was like starting again all over,” she tells the UK Sunday Times’ Culture magazine of her role as Carla. “When I saw the choreography the first day, I thought it was almost impossible to be able to get to dance and sing like that, and do the whole number at once without stopping.

“It was three months of rehearsing for that number, every day a little more, a little more. The day that you get to run the number without stopping, you feel like you are flying—such a beautiful feeling.”

Penélope, 35, has joined Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Fergie, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, to play one of the women in the life of Daniel Day Lewis‘ Italian director Guido.

While the Spanish actress had to learn some gravity-defying moves, she also had to perfect her pipes.

“I’m a very big fan of music,” she says, “so I listen to everything, and I sing at home in my karaoke machine, and in the shower, but it was the first time professionally. But I loved it.”

Perhaps the role will bring her another Oscar win, similar to her best supporting actress prize for starring in Woody Allen‘s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

“I felt I was on the border of passing out from tension,” she reminisces about the moment she won, before confessing she ate “300 canapes” to relieve the tension.

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