Penelope Cruz is a wildly talented actress with a remarkably diverse range. Arriving in America in 1998 with a return ticket, she quickly established herself with roles in Pedro Almodovar films and Cameron Crowe’s American remake of ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona.’
The actress is spirited and funny, but also very serious about her work, both on-screen and off. She recently drove to Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home with her camera — no handlers, no entourage.
Penelope Cruz began her acting career in her native Spain, winning a beauty pageant at age 15 that led to her first roles on Spanish TV shows and music videos. She had no formal training but had “it,” and casting agents took notice. In 1992, she made her big-screen debut in the dark film “Jamon Jamon.” Cruz quickly became a critical darling and won several awards for her performance.
In the 1990s, she branched out with English-language films such as Talk of Angels (1998) and The Hi-Lo Country (1999). She was cast as a woman dreamed of by a man going through a midlife crisis in director Pedro Almodovar’s acclaimed films Carne Tremula (1997; Live Flesh) and Todo sobre mi madre (1999; All About My Mother).
Two years later she won an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Nine. She followed that up with the romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), directed by Woody Allen, and won her second Academy Award nomination in 2009 for Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces).
Throughout the 2010s, Cruz continued to win praise for her work both on the big and small screens. She reunited with Depp in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), and appeared in broad comedies like Sex in the City 2 (2010) and Zoolander (2016). On the television side, she starred as Donatella Versace in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2015) and worked with husband Javier Bardem again in both Loving Pablo (2017) and Asghar Farhadi’s family drama Todos lo saben (2018).
Hollywood Acting Career
After appearing in a number of Spanish language films, including Jamon jamon and Belle Epoque, Cruz made her move to Hollywood in the early 2000s. Her first Hollywood film was the drama Vanilla Sky with actor Tom Cruise, followed by Blow and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. She also appeared in Fanfan la tulipe, which opened the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and Don’t Tempt Me, earning critical praise but poor box office results.
In 2006, Penelope Cruz starred in Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, receiving positive reviews. She also teamed up with co-star Salma Hayek for the Western comedy Bandidas and gave a performance that critics described as “lusty” in the thriller Elegy.
Cruz continued to hone her acting skills in roles such as the woman dreamed of by a director undergoing a midlife crisis in Head in the Clouds, the wife of an aging Cuban pilot in Los abrazos rotos (2009; Broken Embraces), and the mistress of a famous composer in Nine.
She reunited with Johnny Depp in 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and worked again with Woody Allen on To Rome with Love (2012). In more serious fare, she portrayed Gemma, the mother of a child who returned to Sarajevo after the end of the war in the 2014 movie Twice Born. Other works include the Spanish-language melodrama Ma ma (2015) and the fashion industry satire Zoolander 2 (2016).
Penelope Cruz has a passion for helping those in need. She has volunteered in countries like Uganda and India and spent time assisting Mother Teresa in her mission of helping the poor. She also donated her salary from the film The Hi-Lo Country. She has even launched a clothing line with her sister, Monica, and is a brand ambassador for companies such as Ralph Lauren and L’Oreal.
She is also involved with the Fundacion Uno Entre Cien Mil that supports childhood leukemia research. She recently shared a photo on Instagram of herself with a little boy who has battled the illness and she looks so happy in their picture together. Dressed in a white blazer and semi sheer polka dot blouse, the actress sported a subtle bronze make-up look for the photo.
The Spanish beauty has a very down-to-earth side that she shares with her family. She and her husband Javier Bardem are raising their children, Luna, nine, and Leo, 12, away from the spotlight, and they are very close with them. She is very proud of her heritage and often incorporates the culture into her work. It is also very clear to see that she and her husband are very supportive of each other and their career choices. In fact, Javier once said that he never wants Penelope to stop acting and she agrees with him.
Penelope Cruz has a long resume of both film and television projects. She debuted in 1992 with Bigas Luna’s Jamon Jamon, an early Spanish drama that showcased her talent for bringing a character to life on the screen. She soon landed an American movie role, in the film version of the novel Blow (2001), and the project boosted her visibility on both sides of the Atlantic. Cruz was soon starring in a wide range of action blockbusters, movie musicals and sci-fi thrillers, as well as modestly budgeted Spanish-language dramas. It was the latter that led to her working with the renowned filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, who cast her in several films. The two starred together in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), which garnered her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. The movie also introduced her to actor Javier Bardem, who would become her husband.
Over the years, Cruz has continued to appear in both English- and Spanish-language productions and earned a number of high-profile roles, including in the romantic thriller Live Flesh (1997), movie musical Mamma Mia! (2009), the biopic The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (2018) and the Netflix series Everybody Knows (2023).
WhilePenelope Cruz continues to do Hollywood movies (like this year’s 355), she is now focusing more on her native Spain. She premiered her newest film at the Venice Film Festival, the showbiz comedy Official Competition (2022), in which she stars with Antonio Banderas.