It is common to see international stars and influential figures traveling to Spain’s most popular tourist destinations – places like Ibiza, Mallorca, Marbella and Barcelona. But there are other Hollywood actors who prefer the charm of a traditional Spanish village to the glitz and glamor of these hotspots.
Mel Gibson: the north is “marvelous”
Mel Gibson, one of the biggest and best-paid actors of the 1990s, is a fan of Spain’s northern towns. He has been seen in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a municipality in La Rioja, and later in Oviedo in Asturias, where he told a local reporter from the regional television station that the area was “marvelous.” The Hollywood star was happy to have his photo taken with admirers and locals. The actor was then seen eating at a local restaurant in A Fonsagrada in Lugo, and later in Santiago de Compostela, where he visited the cathedral and stayed in the historic Hostal dos Reis Católicos.
Olivia Newton John, from Xanadu to Ribeira Sacra
Olivia Newton-John, the star of Grease who sold over 100 million albums thanks to hits like Physical, traveled to Ribeira Sacra in the middle of July. This area is located between the provinces of Lugo and Ourense in the northwestern region of Galicia, and it is famous for its wines, in particular Ferreira de Pantón. On her trip, she ate octopus, took photos and posed next to a sign advertising “clams, cheese and bacon.”
Brad, Angelina and the street sweeper of Castrejana
Back in 2007, former Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got lost on their way to the Marqués de Riscal winery and found themselves in Castrejana, a neighborhood in the Basque city of Bilbao with no historical or tourist attractions. A photo of the stars with a street sweeper who gave them directions was picked up by newspapers and circulated among locals. The couple eventually made it to the famous vineyard in La Rioja, a region which has also attracted celebrities like Ken Follett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Eva Longoria and Amanda Hearst.
Gwyneth Paltrow in Toledo’s Talavera de la Reina
The Shakespeare in Love star stayed in Talavera de la Reina as an exchange student when she was a teenager. She has since kept in close contact with her exchange family and revisited the town. In 2003, the Hollywood star, who speaks fluent Spanish, was given the keys to Talavera de la Reina. When locals protested for more measures and greater investment in the area in 2018, Paltrow shared a video on social media in support of the cause.
Chris Hemsworth, or Thor comes to Getaria
Blockbuster star Chris Hemsworth has a close relationship with Spain. He is married to the Spanish actress Elsa Pataky, and while the couple live in Australia with their children, they regularly visit the country. They’ve been seen in the streets of Madrid and the clear waters of Ibiza, but also in Getaria, a coastal village in Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country, where Pataky’s brother Christian Prieto got married in July 2018.
Amy Schumer and her favorite place: Altea
The comedy actress, famous for her punchy stand-up routines and roles in films like I Feel Pretty and Trainwreck, has not only traveled to Spain’s villages, in her 2016 memoir The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo she named one of them as he favorite place in the world outside of the United States – Altea in Alicante. She even said she would move to the small town if Donald Trump won the US presidential election, a promise she is yet to act on.
Being John Malkovich in Ponte Maceira
In 1989, the actor traveled to Ponte Maceira, Costa da Morte and A Coruña as a guest of Chema Prado, who was then the director of the state-owned film archive Filmoteca Española. He returned a decade later, with Prado and the Spanish actor Javier Bardem. In the spring of 2019, he went back again and dined at the restaurant Casa Salvador in A Baña with Spanish actress Marisa Paredes. He has promised to return again.
English version by Melissa Kitson.