Fifty Shades of Grey this ain’t. When Lifetime debuts Beautiful & Twisted on January 31, the story will not involve swoony helicopter rides over Seattle. The based-on-a-true-story tale starts off similarly enough, with a girl, Narcy (Paz Vega) — only she’s a stripper, not a mousey journalist — falling in love with a big-time billionaire, Ben Novack, Jr. (Rob Lowe). And, like in Fifty Shades, there’s plenty of kinky sex. Only this time, the billionaire winds up murdered, and Narcy Novack is the prime suspect. But who can pull off the possible-Black-Widow routine? Who is Beautiful & Twisted star Paz Vega?
The actress and native of Seville, Spain is no stranger to life-or-death scenarios — her father was a bullfighter. "I first went when I was maybe six years old," Vega told CNN. "It was very emotional and I felt my father was a hero, because everybody was watching him and clapping him. I loved it." Though she didn't pick up her father's matador cape, she found her own way into the spotlight, starring in films and TV series in Spain before making her U.S. debut in James L. Brooks' Spanglish (yeah, the one with Adam Sandler).
Confused? Maybe that's because Paz Vega's name sounds like a couple other actresses'. Let me help clear things up.
She’s Not: Paz De La Huerta
Paz De La Heurta was on the first couple seasons of Boardwalk Empire, where she played Lucy Danziger, Nucky Thompson's showgirl-girlfriend — a role that frequently required her to be naked. Paz Vega is not one to shy away from nudity, either; her movie Sex and Lucia is full of it. "In Europe people don't worry about the body," she told People. "It's normal. Here, people [are] crazy with the nude."
She’s Not: Alexa PenaVega
Or, as Alexa PenaVega was once known, Alexa Vega — when she got married, she and her husband both took blended names (which is adorable). Alexa PenaVega is best known — to me, at least — as the star of the (awesome) Spy Kids franchise, directed by Robert Rodriguez, who co-directed Sin City with comic-book author Frank Miller. Paz Vega was in Miller's first solo outing as a film director, The Spirit. There, she had the strangest/coolest character name ever: Plaster of Paris. "I love comics," she told MovieWeb. "I love this kind of movie: action/funny." Hey, kind of like Spy Kids.
She Is: A Muse to Pedro Almodóvar
OK, so The Spirit and Spanglish may not have the biggest reputations in the United States, but overseas, she frequently works with respected director Pedro Almodóvar. The pair had a hit with Talk to Her, which won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Movie. The two then re-teamed for Los Amantes Pasajeros (which translates to Standby Lovers, but came out in the States under the infinitely less clever title, I'm So Excited). So, you know, it's not all comic books, sex, and Sandler movies.