Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz
Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times


Penelope Cruz
Film: South side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Penélope Cruz Sanchez on April 28, 1974 in Madrid, Spain

Oscar-winning actress, model and philanthropist Penelope Cruz grew up in a working class suburb of Madrid, Spain, with a hairdresser mother and an auto mechanic father. She studied dance for most of her childhood, but after seeing Pedro Almodovar’s “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” as a teenager, she switched her focus to acting.

She landed a talent agency rep at age 15 and began appearing in TV shows in Spain and France. Her feature debut came in the Spanish film, “Jamon, Jamon,” in which she had a topless scene at age 17. The film received positive critical reviews and made Cruz an overnight sensation.

Cruz began working nonstop after this, eventually appearing in 10 Spanish and Italian films over a three-year span, including a role in Almodovar’s “Live Flesh,” which launched a decades-long friendship with the director.

The actress made her Hollywood debut in 1998 with the Stephen Frears film, “The Hi-Lo Country,” starring Billy Crudup and Woody Harrelson.

In 2001, she reprised her role from the Spanish film “Open Your Eyes” in the Cameron Crowe-directed American remake “Vanilla Sky.” During filming, she began a three-year relationship with her costar Tom Cruise, which entered Cruz into the world of tabloid coverage. She later sued an Australian magazine for defamation after they published an article about her relationship with Cruise.
She received her first Academy Award nomination in 2007 for the Pedro Almodovar film “Volver,” and won in 2009 for her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Outside of her acting work, Cruz has been the face of L’Oreal beauty products since 2006, has modeled for Ralph Lauren and owns a clothing store in Madrid. She has been active in humanitarian work in Nepal, Uganda and India and was a longtime supporter of Mother Teresa. She donated her salary from “The Hi-Lo Country” to support the missionary’s work.

In 2010, Cruz married boyfriend (and fellow Spanish actor) Javier Bardem and gave birth to their son in January.

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    2006 Best Actress Volver Nomination
    2008 Best Supporting Actress Vicky Cristina Barcelona Win
    2009 Best Supporting Actress Nine Nomination

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