Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Penelope Cruz - Biography

Penelope Cruz is a Spanish actress who has made it big in Hollywood

penelope cruz black bikini
Faye James
Faye JamesSenior Editor
Share this:

Who is Penelope Cruz?

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, acclaimed for her performances in films like 'Open Your Eyes,' 'The Girl of Your Dreams,' 'Vanilla Sky,' and 'Blow,' showcases a rare blend of charisma, substance, and raw talent. Cruz's childhood was steeped in dramatic play and reenactments, sparking an early passion for the performing arts. Born as the eldest of three to Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser, and Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic, Penelope's life was far from ordinary.

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Cruz spent much of her childhood in her grandmother’s apartment, where she often amused her family and friends with improvised performances. Moreover, her training in classical ballet at Spain’s National Conservatory for nine years fostered her discipline, focus, and determination.

Early career

Cruz's love affair with cinema began when she was ten. Inspired by the Spanish film 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' directed by Pedro Almodóvar, she was determined to tread the path of acting. Despite facing multiple rejections early on, her willpower remained unshaken.

In 1989, Cruz outshined over 300 girls at a talent agency audition, winning her first stint in front of the camera for Spanish pop group Mecano's music video 'La Fuerza del Destino.' Throughout the 1990s, she became a familiar face on Spanish television, hosting the teenage talk show 'La Quinta Marcha,' and appearing in an episode of an erotic French TV series 'Série rose.'


Cruz made a bold big-screen debut in 1992 with 'Jamon, Jamon,' where she played the lead role of Silvia. Her daring performance catapulted her to overnight stardom, turning her into a sex symbol. That same year, she appeared in the Academy Award-winning movie 'Belle Epoque,' perfectly embodying the character of the virginal Luz.

Her performances caught the attention of renowned director Pedro Almodovar, which led to her starring role in his 1997 film 'Carne Tremula.' Despite several of her subsequent films failing at the box office, Cruz's resilience eventually led to her success in Cameron Crowe's 'Vanilla Sky,' a 2001 box office hit that marked her first crossover success.

Hollywood success

In Hollywood, Cruz quickly made her mark. She starred alongside Johnny Depp in 'Blow,' which, despite receiving mixed reviews, amassed a significant $80 million at the global box office. She faced a rough patch between 2002 and 2004, with several of her films underperforming, but she rebounded with strong performances in movies like 'Don't Move,' 'Bandidas,' and 'Volver.'

Her critically acclaimed role in Woody Allen's 2007 film 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2011, Cruz received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, becoming the first Spanish actress to be granted this honor.

Personal life

Cruz's personal life has been as intriguing as her career. She dated her 'Vanilla Sky' co-star Tom Cruise from 2001 until their split in 2004. In 2007, she began dating her 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' co-star Javier Bardem, and the couple married in 2010. They have two children, Leonardo and Luna. Cruz is also known for her close friendship with director Pedro Almodóvar and her entrepreneurship in the fashion world.


Cruz's legacy lies not only in her versatile acting prowess but also her fortitude and determination in the face of adversity. Her roles in films such as 'Vanilla Sky,' for which she was highly praised, have helped secure her place in cinematic history. Among her many accolades, Cruz won the Empire Award for Best Actress for her role in 'Volver' in 2006 and received the highly esteemed Academy Award and BAFTA Award in 2008 for her portrayal of Maria Elena in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona.'

More Profiles

See more