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In her Spanish movies, Penelope Cruz is known to be a great actress. In her American movies, she is merely a gorgeous dark-haired woman who smiles a lot. Hey, we’ll take it. Voted #26 in the AskMen.com's Top 99 Women 2008 Edition.
Born in Madrid to a retailer and a hairdresser, Penelope studied classical ballet for 9 years at Spain’s National Conservatory. During her time at school, she studied with Angela Garrido and Raul Caballero. She dropped out of school at the tender age of 15, and beat out 300 other girls at a fashion modeling agency audition. While she modeled part-time, Cruz began to study drama.
Cruz has said she decided to become an actress after watching Victoria Abril’s performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! She started getting television work at age 16, when she began presenting Kids’ TV programmes on Tele 5 in Spain. Cruz then had to take a break from acting to recuperate after having studied and worked herself to the breaking point.
In 1992, 18-year-old Penelope made her film debut in Jamon, Jamon (Ham, Ham), in which she appeared nude and simulated some pretty erotic sex (welcome to show business). Javier Bardem played opposite the young Penelope Cruz in the movie and both actors were nominated for Goyas, Spain’s national film awards. Jamon, Jamon took the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the acclaim helped to kick-start the young actress’s career. She followed that with Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), and Almodovar’s Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother), which won an Oscar for best foreign film. In All About My Mother, Cruz plays a pregnant nun who runs a shelter.
She cracked into American movies with 2000’s Woman on Top—a position we’re totally cool with, by the way—and has since compiled a hit-and-miss Hollywood filmography, including All the Pretty Horses, Blow (Franka Potente, Jaime King), Vanilla Sky (a Cameron Crowe-directed remake of Abre Los Ojos, in which she plays the same character), Gothika (Halle Berry), Sahara, and Bandidas (Salma Hayek). In the process, Cruz has racked up relationships with actors Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey and Orlando Bloom. In 2006, she reunited with Almodovar in Volver, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination (a first for a Spanish actress).
In Volver, the actress played a sensuous young mother who undertakes running a restaurant and is visited by the spirit of her dead mother. Almodovar’s magical realism and the actress’s talent created a film that was not only recognized at the Oscars, but also won a Goya and an award at Cannes.
2007 saw Cruz in The Good Night, an oddball comedy about a guy generally dissatisfied with his life, but who has wonderful dreams at night. In these dreams, he encounters that lovely Penelope Cruz and his experiences prompt him to learn more about lucid dreaming. Hilarity ensues when reality begins to impose itself on his dream-life.
She also appeared in Elegy, a drama based on the novel The Dying Animal by Philip Roth. Opposite Ben Kingsley, she played a college student seduced by her professor. As the professor begins to truly fall for his student, he drives her away in a fit of self-fulfilling prophesy.
Nebbish hilarity should ensued for Penelope Cruz fans in the Woody Allen project Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Scarlett Johansson), for which she won an Oscar. Coming up, she’s signed on to star with Catherine Zeta-Jones in Nine, based on a script by Federico Fellini. Nine follows fellow Oscar winner, Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays a film director that enjoys extremely complex relationships with the women in his life. Penelope Cruz plays his mistress, alongside Marion Cotillard as his wife, Nicole Kidman as his muse, Judi Dench as his manager, and Kate Hudson as a journalist.
On the personal side, Penelope has recently said she doesn’t think her life will be complete if she doesn’t adopt…so get those papers in order.
Cruz is also known for her generosity and her humanitarian efforts. It was once rumored that she donated her paycheck from “The Hi-Lo Country” to Mother Teresa’s children’s sanctuary in Calcutta after she spent time there volunteering. Cruz denounced the rumor, but she did do the volunteer work and even founded a non-government organization called the Sabera Foundation. Cruz, Nacho Cano, and other Spanish entertainers set up a home, a clinic, and a school in Calcutta for people with tuberculosis and homeless girls. The project has since dissolved, but the actress continues to add humanitarian efforts to her biography with the World Food Programme.
Won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
In September 2010, Penelope's manager confirmed she is pregnant with Javier Bardem's child. Peneople's son Leo Encinas Bardem, was born at the Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on January 22, 2011.
Penelope Cruz on the Web
Penelope Cruz: 'To Rome with Love' Premiere! | Alec Baldwin, Jesse ... ... with Love' Premiere! Penelope Cruz: 'To Rome with Love' Premiere! Penelope Cruz strikes a pose in Dolce&Gabbana at the To Rome with Love premiere on Friday (April 13) at Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Italy.
Penelope Cruz To Rome With Love Premiere Pictures Penelope Cruz continued a busy day of press for To Rome With Love at the movie's Italian premiere last night. She began the morning at a photocall for the Woody Allen picture along with her costars Jesse Eisenberg, Alec ...