NEW YORK — There are good years and there are great years, but actress/model Inès Sastre’s 2006 might just be off the charts.

A few weeks ago, Sastre married longtime pal Alexandro Corrias and is now just over three months pregnant with their son. She’s also celebrating her 10-year anniversary as one of the faces of Lancôme. And this Friday, the Spanish actress, 32, will make her American film debut in Andy Garcia’s romantic ode to Cuba, “The Lost City.”

It is more than understandable, then, that the famous beauty is feeling weary in her nascent state as she arrives at the Warwick Hotel.

“It’s not growing…and then now it’s growing!” she laughs of her round belly.

But hard work and a hectic lifestyle are nothing new to Sastre. An actress in her native Spain since the age of 13, she won the prestigious Elite “Look of the Year” model contest in 1989. But she became one of the first in the competition’s history to turn down the prized modeling contract, instead choosing to pursue an education at the Sorbonne, where she studied French and comparative literature.

“I thought it was important to go to university and spend those years of my life among fellow students,” Sastre says with a shrug of her decision.

She returned to acting with a role in Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Beyond the Clouds” 11 years ago and hasn’t stopped since, picking up the lucrative Lancôme contract along the way. Of her double life as an actress/model, she is succinctly pragmatic.

“More and more beauty brands are being represented by actresses and it actually works very well. I’m not doing five movies a year,” explains Sastre between sips of iced tea. “You know, there’s more opportunity to be selective of my work and not have to do movies to pay the rent, which is important.”

When it came to committing to “The Lost City,” the choice was an easy one for both the director and actress. Set in Fifties Cuba, the film follows the Fellove family as their lives become irrevocably altered by the political turmoil sweeping across their homeland. Sastre plays Aurora, the wife of one of the Fellove sons.

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The central metaphor of the film is reflected in her character. It’s the story of impossible love for a country and a woman, which is the same thing,” explains Garcia, who directed, starred in and composed the original score for the movie. Garcia, who is of Cuban descent, has been nurturing this project for the past 16 years.

He came across a picture of Sastre several years ago in a magazine while casting for the film and was completely taken with her.

“She was dressed very beautifully, as she always is, and looked very beautiful in it. When I saw the image, I said that is the image of the film. That’s the woman that’s Cuba to me, the Cuba of the 1950s,” he says.

At her audition in L.A., Garcia played the main theme from the film. “As soon as she started listening to the lyrics, she started crying and I gave her the part,” he recalls.

But the shoot in the Dominican Republic wasn’t all heart-wrenching emotions. Sastre, an avid golfer since the age of eight, managed to take some breaks with her costar Bill Murray for a few rounds. She was soon off to Rome to work on a film with Italian director Pupi Avati, tentatively coming out this fall. And impending motherhood poses no obstacles to Sastre’s fast-paced work schedule.

“Well, having babies these days doesn’t stop people from winning Oscars,” she laughs. “Baby-sitters exist. And children can travel.”

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