Penelope Cruz Biography

Penelope Cruz Sanchez was born on April 28, 1974, in Madrid, Spain. She displayed a proclivity for performance while she was still in diapers, as she would often entertain her family members by re-enacting popular TV commercials. She eventually transferred this enthusiasm to the world of dance, and she studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain’s prestigious National Conservatory. Penelope Cruz seemed well on her way towards a career as a dancer, though there did come a point at which she was unexpectedly bitten by the acting bug.

penelope cruz appears in belle epoque

While still in her teens, Penelope Cruz embarked on a quest to establish herself as an actress -- with her professional debut coming in 1991 with a guest appearance on a French soap entitled Softly From Paris. While that appearance hardly brought her visibility, Penelope Cruz’s first film role in 1992’s Jamon, Jamon brought her to the attention of movie fans across the globe. The film, which costars Javier Bardem and was nominated for several Goya Awards, transformed Penelope Cruz into a sex symbol virtually overnight, while her starring role in the critically-acclaimed Belle Epoque (released that same year) only cemented her status as one of Spain’s most intriguing up-and-coming performers.

penelope cruz in open your eyes

Penelope Cruz spent the next several years working steadily in a number of Spanish-language films, including 1996’s La Celestina (alongside Maribel Verdu) and 1997’s Pedro Almodovar effort Live Flesh. It wasn’t until Penelope Cruz took on a role in the mind-bending 1997 flick Open Your Eyes that she once again found herself the focus of international attention, as the movie quickly became a cult classic thanks to its peculiar storyline and shocking conclusion. A year later, Penelope Cruz made her English-language debut with a small role opposite Billy Crudup and Woody Harrelson in The Hi-Lo Country, though it wasn’t until the new millennium that she finally began establishing herself among mainstream North American audiences.

penelope cruz in blow

2000 proved to be the defining year of Penelope Cruz’s career, as the actress’ roles in Woman on Top and All the Pretty Horses propelled her to the top of Hollywood’s A-list. Though neither film was particularly successful, Penelope Cruz’s exotic looks and palpable abilities made her a hot commodity among some of the industry’s top directors and producers. Penelope’s output in 2001 was particularly prolific, as she appeared opposite Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Johnny Depp in Blow, Gael Garcia Bernal in Don’t Tempt Me, and Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky.

penelope cruz in volver

Penelope Cruz’s return to Spanish-language cinema with 2006’s Volver garnered the actress some of the best reviews of her career, and she was even nominated for her first Academy Award (she ultimately lost to Helen Mirren). Her success with Volver lead to her roles in 2007's The Good Night alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Simon Pegg, as well as Manolete opposite Oscar award winner, Adrien Brody.

penelope cruz in elegy

2008 looked to be just as bright for Penelope Cruz as she took on the role of Consuela Castillo in Elegy along with Ben Kingsley and Dennis Hopper. Based on a novel, Elegy is a dramatic movie particularly suited to Penelope's acting prowess.

Along with her casting calls, Penelope was also ranked as No. 58 in Maxim's Hot 100 of 2007 list, and was chosen by Empire magazine as being one of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in the world.

penelope cruz wins an oscar

At the 2009 Academy Awards, Penelope Cruz took home her first Oscar for her portrayal of an eccentric and tempestuous artist in Woody Allen's film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz delivered part of her acceptance speech in Spanish, saying the award was in part dedicated to the people of Spain, her home country.

penelope cruz is named no. 26 in's 2008 top 99 and no. 25 in 2009

Penelope Cruz has had a long and storied career -- she has, after all, appeared in almost 50 movies and television shows. There’s little doubt that she’s earned a place for herself within the pantheon of legendary Spanish imports. This is why she earned a No. 26 place on our Top 99 list of 2008 and No. 25 in 2009. Her latest films -- Rob Marshall's adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard and Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces -- are more proof that Penelope is as A-list as actresses come.