Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.
Biography of Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress and model, winner of an Oscar in 2009. In 2018 she received the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, from Spain.
Childhood and family of Penélope Cruz
Penelope Cruz was born on April 28, 1974 in Alcobendas, a small town located north of Madrid.
Her father, Eduardo Cruz, (1953-2015) originally from Extremadura, was a salesman in a car dealership.
Her mother, María Encarnación Sánchez, is from Andalusia, and she ran a hairdresser in Alcobendas.
Penélope Cruz has two brothers, younger than her: Mónica Cruz (television actress) and Eduardo Cruz (singer).
Penélope Cruz studied primary and secondary school at the “Colegio Juan XXIII” (founded in 1967, in Alcobendas) and at the “Instituto El Portillo“.
Artistic training of Penélope Cruz
When she was 15 years old, Penelope Cruz was pleasantly impressed when she saw Victoria Abril’s performance in the movie “Átame”, directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
Since then, one of her big dreams has been to be an actress and one day work with the film director, Pedro Almodóvar.
Her parents advised her to study nine years of classical ballet at the National Conservatory of Madrid.
To this, Penélope Cruz added four years with various dance courses at the “Cristina Rota Interpretation School” in Madrid. Through this Center, founded in 1979, more than 10,000 students have passed in 40 years.
In addition, Penelope studied Spanish ballet for three years at the “Angela Garrido Ballet Cultural Association“, just founded in Alcobendas in 1994.
She also took jazz dance courses at Raúl Caballero’s “Dance Studio“.
Parallel to all this basic training, Penelope Cruz studied acting. And, as soon as she could, she took a multitude of tests in order to start working in film as an actress.
Personal characteristics of Penelope Cruz
Everything about Penelope Cruz radiates joy, freshness and naturalness. At the same time, it reveals tranquility, mischief and tenderness.
Above anything else, she has demonstrated her good work based on dedication, sacrifice and perseverance, in her ballet, dance and acting studies.
In both film and television, the image of a candid and naive girl is combined with that of a young woman of clear sensual appeal.
Those who know Penelope Cruz say that she is generous, empathetic, talented and with a lot of joie de vivre. According to a survey carried out annually by an association of beer companies, she would be the first woman with whom the Spanish would go out for beer.
The beauty of her features is attractive and very characteristic. In 2011, the British newspaper “The Telegraph” revealed that, in a survey conducted by two Hollywood plastic surgeons about the parts of the body most sought after by the rich and famous to build the image of the perfect woman, they were those of Penelope Cruz the most requested.
Penelope Cruz is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Italian.
Penelope Cruz’s beginnings as an actress
Penelope’s first interpretive appearance was in the video clip of the song “La Fuerza del Destino”, by the pop group Mecano.
After an exhaustive search among more than 200 girls, Penelope was selected to be the protagonist of the song.
Later she began a long relationship of six years with the member of the group, Nacho Cano (1991-1996).
After that, the opportunity arose to present “La quinta marcha” on Tele 5, a television program aimed at adolescents.
This participation helped her to get closer to the television medium; later she worked in 1991 on an episode of the “Pink Series” directed by Jaime Chavarri.
Penelope’s first film was “The Greek Labyrinth” in 1991, directed by Rafael Alcázar.
Penelope Cruz’s real takeoff as a film actress was in 1992, when she was 18 years old, with the film “Jamón, jamón” by director Bigas Luna.
Penélope Cruz shared the limelight with Javier Bardem and Jordi Mollá; came out empowered as an attractive and sensual young sex symbol. She was nominated for the “Fotograma de Plata for best film actress” at the VII edition of the Goya Awards.
In 1993, the film “Belle Époque” by Fernando Trueba, won the Oscar for the best foreign language film. In this film, Penélope Cruz shared a cast with magnificent actors, such as Ariadna Gil, Jorge Sanz, Agustín González, Chus Lampreave or Fernando Fernán Gómez among many others.
Penelope Cruz established herself as an actress
Penelope Cruz did not stop working for the rest of the 1990s. There was no year in which she had not starred in at least one movie.
She had contact with various film professionals, and her career as a film actress in Spain became more and more consolidated.
The list of films starring Penelope Cruz, in Spanish, English, French and Italian is long.
With the film “Love seriously harms health” in 1996, by director Manuel Gómez Pereira, Penélope Cruz became a popular actress.
Shortly after, in 1997, she achieved her dream: to collaborate by making a small character in a movie “Meth tremula”, by the director and screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar.
In the same year, she starred in the movie “Abre los ojos“, directed by Alejandro Amenábar. It was a huge box office success that launched her to fame.
Great triumph for Penelope Cruz in 1998
However, the clear turning point in Penélope Cruz’s film career happened in 1998, when the actress starred in the movie “The girl with your eyes.”
In this Fernando Trueba film, Penélope Cruz shared a cast with great popular actors such as: Antonio Resines, Jorge Sanz, Loles León, Rosa María Sardá and Santiago Segura.
As in no other film, the 24-year-old Penelope Cruz conquered the viewer with her peculiar ease, wit, spontaneity and tenderness. She performed a dance that is an anthology.
With this wonderful performance, Penelope won a well-deserved award at the XIII edition of the Goya Awards; in addition, she obtained many other recognitions on the part of the critics and the public. She received the Fotograma de Plata award for best film actress.
Her colleagues in the Union of Actors gave her the award for best leading actress.
Penelope Cruz’s jump to Hollywood
In the 1990s, Penelope Cruz was already known and appreciated in Spanish cinema.
When she was nominated for Best Leading Actress at the European Film Awards for “The Girl of Your Eyes,” her fame became international.
She became even more famous when the movie “All about my mother” was a resounding international success with the public and critics. It was the winner of the best foreign film at the Oscars in 2000.
In that year 2000, Penelope Cruz made the leap to Hollywood and since then she has not stopped having juicy job offers, year after year.
She acted in hit movies, alongside the most famous actors in cinema: Matt Damon, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and many others.
Her romantic relationship with Tom Cruise made her very popular with the American public. However, the most praiseworthy professional critics came to her thanks to her participation in European films.
One of these films was the Italian “Don’t Move“, from 2004, for which she won the David de Donatello Award for Best Female Performance, and was a candidate for the Goya Award for Best Actress.
First nomination for the Oscar Awards
In 2006, Penélope Cruz returned to work with Pedro Almodóvar. She was the main protagonist in the movie “Volver” (2006).
On this occasion, she won the award for best female performance at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year 2006, shared with the rest of the film’s actresses, such as Carmen Maura, Chus Lampreave, Lola Dueñas and Blanca Portillo.
Thanks to her performance in “Volver”, on January 23, 2007, Penelope Cruz became the first Spanish actress “to be a candidate” for a Hollywood Oscar for best leading actress.
A few days later, on January 28, 2007, Penelope Cruz won her second Goya for best leading actress for her role as Raimunda in the movie “Volver”.
Penélope Cruz, the first Spanish Oscar winner
In 2008, she starred alongside Javier Bardem, the American Scarlett Johansson and the British Rebecca Hall, a Woody Allen film called “Vicky Cristina Barcelona“.
The story is mainly set in Barcelona, Avilés and Oviedo. The film was pre-released in Spain on September 18, 2008 at the opening gala of the 56th edition of the San Sebastian Festival.
This is one of Woody Allen’s most commercially successful films. Penelope’s work was praised and led to her Golden Globe nomination. She was also the winner of her third Goya Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress.
In addition, this film earned her a nomination for the 2009 Oscars, this time for best supporting actress. And she won the coveted Oscar statuette.
Penelope Cruz is considered the best dressed actress at the Oscars in the last two decades.
Penélope Cruz played one of the central characters in Pedro Almodóvar’s 17th film, “Los abrazos rotos” (March 2009). Her good work earned her her sixth Goya nomination.
Third nomination for the Oscars
Also in 2009, Penelope Cruz played the character of Carla Albanese, in the film adaptation of the musical “Nine”, under the direction of Robert Marshall.
In this musical, Penelope starred with Kate Hudson, Sofia Loren, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman; she performed the song “A call from the Vatican.”
For her incarnation of Carla Albanese, Penélope Cruz was nominated for the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award and, for the third time in four years, the Oscar.
Actress Penelope Cruz in the 2010s
The success, talent and international fame of Penelope Cruz made it possible for her to have participated in at least one movie every year since 2010.
Penélope Cruz has worked with renowned directors such as Woody Allen and Fernando Trueba; and with the most famous actors and actresses: Alec Baldwin, Johnny Depp, Ornella Muti, Roberto Benigni, Javier Bardem, Cameron Díaz, Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Defoe, Judi Dench and Michael Fassbender.
In early July 2010, after three years of dating, Penelope Cruz married actor Javier Bardem.
They have had two children: Leo (January 22, 2011, in Los Angeles) and Luna (July 22, 2013), in Madrid.
Summary of works by Penélope Cruz
Penelope Cruz ventured into television at the beginning of her career, from 1990 to 1992.
Later, when she was already a consecrated actress, she did it between 2013 and 2014, in 2018 and in 2019.
In the world of music she has collaborated on several occasions; one of them singing a duet with Joan Manuel Serrat in the song “Penélope”.
In 2012 she collaborated with Miguel Bosé on her new album “Papitwo” singing a song with her, as a duet.
The international fame and beauty of Penelope Cruz has motivated various commercial brands to use her image: L’Oréal perfumes, Lancôme perfumes, Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Mango clothing, Schweppes drinks.
Awards obtained by Penélope Cruz
The awards given to this magnificent actress are as numerous as the films in which she has participated.
Penélope Cruz is the second Spanish actress to receive the Donostia Award, after Carmen Maura (2013).
She was nominated for the “Golden Globe” awards in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2018
In 2006, she was nominated for the BAFTA Awards. And she was the winner in 2008
Also in 2006, she was a winner at the Hollywood Film Festival, the Cannes International Film Festival and winner of the David de Donatello award.
Penélope Cruz was nominated for the Goya Awards in 1992, 2004, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. She was the winner of these awards in 1998, 2006 and 2008.
At the European Film Awards, Penélope Cruz was nominated in 2000, 2004, 2009; and was a winner in 2004 and 2006
She was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
She has received numerous other awards and medals: from the Cinematographic Writers Circle, Gaudí Awards, Fotogramas de Plata Awards, Actors Union Awards, EñE Film Awards.
In 2019 she won the Donostia award at the San Sebastián Festival, as best supporting actress.
Penélope Cruz is a Spanish actress and model who won an Oscar in 2009. In 2018 she received the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, from Spain.
Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.