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Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974 in Madrid, Spain), better known as Penélope Cruz, is a Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated Spanish actress. Originally a dancer, she soon moved into Spanish television, and since then she has appeared in a string of films, in Spanish, English, French and Italian.


Early life

Cruz was born in San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid, Spain. Her parents are Eduardo Cruz, a retailer, and Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser. As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family's amusement, but she decided to focus her energies on dance. After studying classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory, she continued her training under a series of prominent dancers. At 15, however, she heeded her true calling when she bested more than 300 other girls at a talent agency audition. She received three years of Spanish Ballet training with Ángela Garrido. She also had jazz dance training with Raúl Caballero and she studied at Cristina Rota (mother of Juan Diego Botto) school in Madrid.

Career

Cruz first achieved fame when she appeared in the video clip La fuerza del destino for the Spanish synthpop group Mecano. She later started a relationship with Nacho Cano, a member of the group.

She was a TV presenter for the teen-oriented program La Quinta Marcha. She also had early exposure in Série Rose, a French erotic TV serial.

Cruz's first major films were Jamón, jamón and Belle Epoque, 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, and in 2000 she appeared with Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses. In 1999, she appeared in Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre, which won an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film.

In early 2001, she appeared in the film Vanilla Sky, the Hollywood remake of Abre los ojos. She played the same part in both films.

In 2006, Cruz received rave 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 Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

Personal life

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.

She 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 2001 in the film Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, they had a three-year relationship. They split up in January 2004.

After filming Sahara in February 2005, she started 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."

Dated actor Orlando Bloom for about five months until January 2007.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1992 Jamón, jamón (Ham, Ham) Silvia
1992 Belle Époque Luz
1997 Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) Sofía
1997 Carne trémula (Live Flesh) Isabel Plaza Caballero
1999 Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) Sister María Rosa Sanz
2000 All the Pretty Horses Luisa
2000 Woman on Top Isabella Oliveira
2001 Blow Mirtha Jung
2001 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Pelagia
2001 Vanilla Sky Sofia Serrano
2003 Fanfan la tulipe Adeline La Franchise
2003 Gothika Chloe Sava
2004 Head in the Clouds Mia
2004 Non ti muovere (Don't Move) Italia
2004 Noel Nina Vasquez
2005 Sahara Eva Rojas
2006 Chromophobia Gloria
2006 Bandidas Maria Alvarez
2006 Volver Raimunda Academy Award-Nomination
2007 Manolete Antoñita "Lupe" Sino Post-Production
2007 The Good Night Anna
2007 The Loop Announced
2007 Passion India Announced

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