“I have a lot left to learn”

After Hollywood disappointment, Elsa Pataky is putting family before career

Elsa Pataky at the Ghd promotion in Madrid.
Elsa Pataky at the Ghd promotion in Madrid.CARLOS ROSILLO

Everything was prepared as if for a big star — dozens of photographers, TV cameras, make-up artist, stylist, public relations people… But Elsa Pataky no longer lives in Hollywood and neither is she one of the big names. She herself recognizes it: “I have a lot left to learn.” A certain humility is the first thing that surprises you about the former star of Ninette, Snakes on a Plane and Di Di Hollywood, who was recently in Madrid as the face of beauty brand Ghd. It’s in the world of advertising that she has found her true niche, though she also keeps trying to find one in the world of movies.

Just over two months ago she gave birth to India, her first baby, and her body is showing no signs of the pregnancy. She knows it’s her looks that mark her out and that’s why she takes the utmost care of herself. “I’ve looked after myself a lot,” she says. “I did sport until the day before the birth and, after leaving hospital, I got back to it. I controlled the cravings. I got into candies and sweet popcorn.” A bakery in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood can testify to the fact she was a good customer for nine months.

Now, though, the 35-year-old actress is back on her diet — shakes and grilled everything — though the other day she made an exception and, with her actor husband Chris Hemsworth, ate Spanish omelet and ham.

The Thor star is accompanying his wife on this trip to Madrid, along with their little one. In fact, she’s sleeping just a few meters away, but Pataky doesn’t show her off. Even so, the actress now talks about feeding bottles, pacifiers and diapers like she used to talk about boyfriends and upcoming projects. It’s a new Elsa Pataky, who is putting family before career.

“We’re now living in London because that’s where they are shooting a lot of the productions that before they used to make in Hollywood, but due to a problem with taxes they moved there,” she explains, before pausing for a second, realizing she just said ‘taxes’ in English. It’s a sign of how long she’s been living outside Spain and that she speaks in English with her family — though not with India. “It doesn’t come out with my little girl. So I teach her Spanish and, as Chris hears me, he learns.”

Hemsworth has made three films in London and Pataky one, though she says she has another in the works. Their lifestyle is similar to that of the Bardem-Cruzes. “They were living in London, but we didn’t see them.” Pataky has never liked the comparisons with Pé, an actress who has reached the top of the international film world.

She reveals she has waived her fee for the Ghd promotion. “I’m collaborating on this campaign because part of the money of this product [hair irons] is going to the fight against cancer. My uncle died of the disease, as did my best friend in Los Angeles. I was with him until the end,” she says, her eyes filling with tears.

The job also allows her to spend a few days in the sunshine. “Living in London is very tough, you long to feel the heat,” she admits. She misses the beach — both she and Hemsworth are surf fanatics. But now her life is in the British capital, where her husband has his work and where she is looking for a new chance.

The new Elsa Pataky seems resigned to her supporting role for the moment. After walking the red carpets with motorcycle racer Fonsi Nieto and showing off the castle Adrien Brody gave her, now she lives among baby bottles in Notting Hill.

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