Cameron Diaz Was the 'Soul' of 'Vanilla Sky', Says Director Cameron Crowe on Film's 20th Anniversary

"You couldn’t take your eyes off her," Crowe said of Diaz in a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the film's 20th anniversary limited edition Blu-ray, out on Nov. 16

Director Cameron Crowe is looking back at the making of Vanilla Sky and Cameron Diaz's memorable performance in the film.

In a PEOPLE exclusive clip celebrating the 20th anniversary release of the film, Crowe says he lucked out in working with Diaz on the Tom Cruise-starring thriller after she took a break from filming 2002's Gangs of New York in Italy.

"I just remember those electric blue eyes that matched the car that she drove and her kinetic energy that she brought from Italy," Crowe says of the actress. "You couldn't take your eyes off her. It was the soul of the movie in ways I didn't realize."

The movie follows a vain publishing magnate, David Ames (Cruise), whose life turns upside after he's involved in a car accident with his jaded lover, Julie (Diaz).

Crowe touched on the car crash scene saying, "We didn't have a lot of time and what happened was something about the exhaustion of not having the time off and having come straight from Italy, something came out." He adds, "She used all of her skill to both use all of her craft but she also used all of her exhaustion and it's riveting."

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Vanilla Sky is a remake of the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, which starred Penelope Cruz. Cruz went on to star in the remake opposite Cruise and Diaz.

In August 2021, Diaz opened up about stepping away from acting in an interview with Kevin Hart on his Peacock talk show Hart to Heart.

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"Why did Cameron Diaz step away from the world of acting?" Hart asked Diaz. "What is it that motivated you to stop?"

Diaz answered by saying "when you do something at a really high level for a long period of time," other parts of you have "to sort of be handed off to other people."

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Diaz said she started to realize around age 40 that there were "so many parts of my life ... that I wasn't touching and that I wasn't managing."

"For me, I just really wanted to make my life manageable by me," she explained. "My routine in a day is literally what I can manage to do by myself."

After the change, Diaz told Hart, "I feel whole."

A limited-edition Blu-ray of Vanilla Sky will be released on Nov. 16 with new bonus content including an alternate ending with commentary by Crowe and deleted scenes.

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