Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974), better known as Penélope Cruz, is a Spanish actress. She gathered critical acclaim as a young actress for films such as Jamón, Jamón, La Niña de tus ojos, and Belle époque. She has also starred in several American films such as Blow, Vanilla Sky, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She is perhaps best known for her work with acclaimed Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar, in Volver and Todo sobre mi madre. Cruz has been awarded three Goyas, two European Film Awards, the Golden Palm for Best Actress, and a BAFTA. In 2009, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Goya, and a BAFTA for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She is Spain's first female Oscar winner and second Hispanic actress since 1961.
Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain, the daughter of Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser and personal manager, and Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic. As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family's amusement. Initially, Cruz decided to focus on dance. After studying classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory, she continued her training under a series of prominent dancers. She received three years of Spanish Ballet training with Ángela Garrido. She also had jazz dance training with Raúl Caballero and studied at Cristina Rota (mother of Juan Diego Botto) school in Madrid. At 15, however, she followed another calling after beating more than 300 other girls at a talent agency audition.
Cruz first achieved fame when she appeared in La fuerza del destino for the Spanish synthpop group Mecano. She later started a relationship with Nacho Cano, a member of the group. A TV presenter for the teen-oriented program La Quinta Marcha, she also had early exposure in Série Rose, an erotic French TV serial. In one episode she played the role of a blind prostitute and in another played a young noblewoman pretending to be a young nobleman in a comedy of errors. She also directed Nacho Cano's video of "El waltz de los locos", in 1994.
Cruz's first major films were Jamón, jamón and Belle Époque, a film which won an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film. In 1997, she starred as Sofía Pangia, alongside Eduardo Noriega in Abre los ojos, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, while in 1999 she appeared in Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), which also won an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film. In 2000 she appeared with Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses.
For Cruz, the early 2000s were a period of mediocre reviews and mixed commercial success. In late 2001, she appeared in the film Vanilla Sky, the Hollywood remake of Abre los ojos. Returning to Europe, in 2004, Cruz learned Italian to star in the film Don't Move. She earned critical praise for her role and earned the coveted David di Donatello award, the Italian equivalent to the Oscar, for her portrayal. Cruz speaks Castellano, French, English, and Italian.
In 2006, she co-starred with her best friend, Salma Hayek, in the film Bandidas. That same year, Cruz received highly favourable reviews for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar's Volver. She shared a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival with five of her co-stars, and was nominated for the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, the BAFTA Award, and the Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role. The latter of these nominations made her the first Spanish actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
In May 2007, it was announced that Penélope and her sister Mónica would be designing a 25-piece collection for the Barcelona-based fashion chain, Mango. On July 7, 2007, Cruz presented at Live Earth. In late 2007, she starred in the Jaume de Laiguana-directed video for her brother's first single, named "Cosas que contar", along with her friend Mía Maestro and her sister Mónica. Cruz had previously shown a keen interest in fashion and is a model for L'Oreal and its "Telescopic" mascara.
In 2008, Cruz appeared with Sir Ben Kingsley in fellow Spaniard Isabel Coixet's film Elegy, earning her critical praise for an English-speaking role. The film was based on the Philip Roth story The Dying Animal. She was nominated for a Golden Satellite award for her performance.
In 2008, she starred in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona as María Elena, Javier Bardem's mentally unstable ex-wife. Her performance received wide critical praise. For the role, Cruz received her second Academy Award Nomination, and later won for Best Supporting Actress, making her only the second Spanish actor to win an Academy Award, a year after her boyfriend, Javier Bardem, won for No Country for Old Men. She became the first Spanish actress to win an Academy Award, and one of the only actors besides Ingrid Bergman to win the Oscar for a role speaking two different languages. Besides the Oscar, Cruz won the BAFTA, the Independent Spirit Award, the National Board of Review Award, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She also earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her role.
Cruz again collaborated with Pedro Almodóvar in his film Los Abrazos Rotos, which is slated to be released in the U.S. in November 2009. She will also be featured in the film version of the musical Nine along with other Oscar winners Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, and Marion Cotillard.
Cruz has a younger brother, Eduardo, a singer, and a younger sister, Mónica, who closely resembles her: a similarity exploited for some Spanish TV ads. In the 2000s, Mónica left her dancing career and achieved note on her own in the youth-oriented TV series Un Paso Adelante.
Cruz claims to be a vegetarian since 2000, though this fact is disputed. She speaks four languages: Spanish, Italian, French and English. Cruz has also donated a considerable amount of money and time to charity. In 1997 she volunteered in Uganda for two months.
After appearing in the 2001 film Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, they had a three-year relationship which ended in January 2004. During that time, she and Cruise were seen visiting several Church of Scientology locations in Hollywood, and there was published speculation that Cruise had convinced Cruz to join the church.
Cruz is of Roman Catholic religion.
After filming Sahara in February 2005, she began dating actor Matthew McConaughey. In May 2006, they released a joint statement to People, saying that they "have decided to take time off as a couple." Later that year they announced that they were "no longer intimate and separating was the best thing to do at this time". She has been dating Academy Award - Winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem since 2007; the two appeared together in Jamón, Jamón, Live Flesh and 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
In April 2007 Cruz, who was single at the time, stated that she would like to have children one day and she feels the need to adopt. "Of course I want to have kids," Cruz, 34, told the Spanish edition of Marie Claire in its April issue. "I want to have my own kids, but also adopt. For a while I've had the feeling that my life won't be complete if I don't adopt".
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