Penélope Cruz Sánchez better known as Penélope Cruz, is a two-time Golden Globe, two-time SAG, BAFTA and Academy Award nominated 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 Bandidas.
Cruz has been awarded two Goyas, two European Film Awards and the Coppa Volpi for her work. She is the first Spanish actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Pedro Almodóvar's 2006 Spanish film Volver.
Cruz 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 naughty video clip La fuerza del destinofor 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, a French erotic TV serial. In one episode she played the role of a blind prostitute and in another played a young noble woman 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 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. Cruz co-starred with her best friend, Salma Hayek in the 2006 film, Bandidas. In 2006, Cruz received highly favourable reviews for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar's Volver. She won a Best Actress ensemble award at the Cannes Film Festival and has been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award. She is the first Spanish Actress to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In May 2007, it was announced that Penelope 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 July 2007, the British Advertising Standards Authority rapped L'Oréal for a television advert on its “Telescopic” mascara, featuring Penélope Cruz, for failing to state that the model was wearing false eyelashes.
In 2008, she starred in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona as María Elena, Javier Bardem's mentally-unstable ex-wife. Her performance has received much praise, and many critics are also predicting she might win an Oscar for this role.
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. 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 Spanish actor Javier Bardem since 2007, the two appeared together in Live Flesh and 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Apart from being a close personal friend of the actress Salma Hayek, Cruz is also a good friend of Colombian singer Shakira.
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".