Penelope Cruz and her husband Javier Bardem are among the stars who have paid tribute to Spanish filmmaker Bigas Luna following his death on Saturday (06Apr13).

The director lost his battle with cancer at the age of 67, and now Cruz, who landed her big break alongside Bardem in Luna's 1992 movie Jamon Jamon, has spoken out to express her sadness.

Recalling the time she auditioned for a part in Luna's The Ages of Lulu, when she was just 14, she tells the Associated Press, "In walked a man with a rascal's face: Bigas Luna. The first thing he asked me was my age. I said I was 17 and he, always very gently and without making me feel too bad, laughed in my face and said: 'Well, you won't make this movie, but I'll call for another when you're older.'"

The tragic star kept his word and cast Cruz in her movie debut three years later, and she adds, "When I was with him I felt time stood still. He was truly special."

And the Skyfall star, who married Cruz in 2010, continues, "I don't know where to begin. (Luna gave me) the woman I love (and) a career that I never dreamed I could have."