Freelance Spain
Spaniards for the 21st century

Penélope Cruz
Spanish film actress.

Her parents named her Penélope after a song of a catalán song-writer Joan Manuel Serrat. Doe-eyed actress Penelope Cruz won the hearts of Spain with her appearances in Belle Epoque (1992) and Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother (1999), both of which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The question is, can she win over the colder hearts of Hollywood? Many Spanish actors have tried before. Some, like Antonio Banderas, have succeded. Most have failed.

The success of Almodovar's film - she was the one to announce its award at the 2000 Oscars ceremony - thrust her into the limelight.

Born on April 28, 1974 in the Madrid suburb of Alcobendas, Cruz (known to her friends as "Pe", pronounced "peh") wanted to be a dancer when she was four. As a teenager, she worked as a photographer's model in fashion magazines, appeared as an extra in a music video by the popular Spanish group Mecano, and presented a children's program on Spanish television, at the same time following drama studies in Madrid.

Her first film appearance was a minor role in El Laberinto Griego (1991), directed by Bigas Luna, who - following her appearance in the Oscar-winning Belle Epoque - gave her a juicier part in Jamón, Jamón (1992), also starring Javier Bardem and which went on to become a Spanish cult movie. Then 17 years old, Cruz appeared in a topless scene, much to the embarrassment of her grandmother and the anger of her jealous boyfriend of the time, pop singer Nacho Cano of Mecano, eleven years her senior. Fearful of being slotted as a sex symbol, this led her to turn down a number of roles, including a starring part in the eminently innocent Walk Among The Clouds, a job which went to her close friend, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon.

After her 1996 break-up with Cano, her career was back on the rails in a big way, with roles in some of the key movies in modern Spanish cinema, including Alejandro Amenabar's Abre Los Ojos (1997) and La Nińa De Tus Ojos (1998), directed by Fernando Trueba.

Meanwhile, she had also appeared in a couple of Italian films and in Talk of Angels (1998), directed by Nick Hamm, but her first major international role was a part in Hi-Lo Country (1998), directed by Stephen Frears and starring Woody Harrelson. That was followed by All The Pretty Horses (2000), opposite Matt Damon, and Woman On Top, premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, while 2001 brought Blow, with Johnny Depp, and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, shot on location in Corfu with Nicholas Cage.

In autumn 2000, Cruz started filming Vanilla Sky, the American remake of Amenábar's Abre Los Ojos, directed by Cameron Crowe (Jerry McGuire) and co-starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Robert Redford. That was to be followed with Sin Noticias de Dios, a Spanish comedy about two angels and a boxer filmed in spring 2001.

Penélope Cross, was going out for more than three years with Cruise, has remained settled in Hoollywood, where she has preformed in movies such as Blow, withJohny Deep, Anonymous or Gothika. Her last work is "do Not move", by the Italian Sergio Castellitto, that supposes a coming back to European movies, gaining the most important prize of Italy, the David of Donatello. In this movie Penélope interprets a role that she would have nerver obtained in the United States and she hopes it will help her to find more roles "more risked". "Do not move" is based on a novel by Margaret Mazzantini.

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