Penelope Cruz Sanchez, born April 28, 1974, is a Spanish actress and model. Signed by an agent at the age of 15, she made her acting debut at 16 on television and her feature film debut the following year in Jamon, Jamon. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Penelope Cruz.
1. Her roles in the 1990s and early 2000s included Open Your Eyes, The Hi-Lo Country, The Girl of Your Dreams and Woman on Top.
2. Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in the 2001 movies Vanilla Sky, All the Pretty Horses, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Blow.
3. She was praised for her roles in Volver and Nine, receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for each.
4. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for playing volatile painter Maria Elena in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
5. She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award and the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
6. Cruz has modeled for Mango, Ralph Lauren and L’Oreal, and along with her younger sister, Monica Cruz, has designed clothing for Mango.
7. She has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working with Mother Teresa. She donated her salary from The Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun’s mission.
8. She was born in the working class town of Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain, to Encarna Sanchez, a hairdresser and personal manager, and Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and car mechanic.
9. Cruz has two siblings, Monica, an actress, and Eduardo. She also has a paternal half-sister called Salma.
10. Cruz grew up in Alcobendas, and spent long hours at her grandmother’s apartment. She says that she had a happy childhood. She remembers, “playing with some friends and being aware that I was acting as I was playing with them. I would think of a character and pretend to be someone else.”
11. Initially, Cruz focused on dance, having studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain’s National Conservatory.
12. She took three years of Spanish ballet training and four years of theater at Cristina Rota’s school. She says that ballet instilled in her discipline that would be important in her future acting career.
13. When she became a cinephile at age 10 or 11, her father bought a Betamax machine, which was then a very rare thing to own in her neighborhood.
14. As a teenager, Cruz became interested in acting after seeing the movie Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
15. She did casting calls for an agent but was rejected multiple times because the agent felt that she was too young.
16. In 1989, at the age of 15, Cruz won an audition at a talent agency over more than 300 other girls. In 1999, Katrina Bayonas, Cruz’s agent, commented, “She was absolutely magic [at the audition]. It was obvious there was something very impressive about this kid… She was very green, but there was a presence. There was just something coming from within.”
17. After filming All the Pretty Horses, she became a vegetarian.
18. She founded an NGO called Sabera Foundation. Together with Nacho Cano and other Spanish entertainers, they have set up a home, a school and a clinic for homeless girls and people suffering from tuberculosis in Calcutta.
19. She was named after the song “Penelope” by Joan Manuel Serrat.
20. She lived with Nacho Cano, Spanish musician, part of the trio called “Mecano,” a pop music group. Penelope appeared ion one of the band’s video clips called “La Fuerza Del Destino.”
21. Cruz is best friends with actresses Goya Toledo and Salma Hayek.
22. She learned Italian because she wanted her part in the movie Don’t Move really badly. It paid off and she went on to win the Italian equivalent of the Oscars for Best Actress.
23. She speaks three languages: Spanish, Italian and English. Despite common misconception, she can’t speak French. She hired a dialect coach to help her in the French movie Fanfan and learned her lines phonetically. She also needs the help of a translator when she’s promoting a movie on French television.
24. She was accompanied by Matthew McConaughey to the Grammy Awards in 2005. The two met on the set of Sahara.
25. Two of her ex-boyfriend have been named Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine: Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey.
26. Cruz claims that her role in Bigas Luna’s Jamon, Jamon psychologically scarred her for life. She was a teenager when she was cast in the movie, which required her to do nudity and sex scenes.
27. She is good friends with her ex-boyfriend Tom Cruise. She was one of the first people to visit his new-born baby daughter Suri.
28. She’s a huge fan of Indian cinema and has expressed interesting in working with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan someday.
29. In 2006, she was earning $2 million per year representing L’Oreal cosmetics.
30. She has been in a relationship with Javier Bardem since they began filming Vicky Cristina Barcelona together in July 2007.