Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974), better known as Penélope Cruz, is a Spanish actress. At 15, she was signed by an agent. She made her acting debut at 16 on television, and her feature film debut the following year in Jamón, jamón (1992), to critical acclaim. Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000). Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in Vanilla Sky and Blow. Both films were released in 2001 and were commercially successful worldwide.
In the 2000s she has appeared in films from a wide range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas movie Noel (2004), the action adventure Sahara (2005), the animated G-Force and the musical drama Nine. Her most notable films to date are Volver (2006), for which she earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), for which she received an Academy Award. She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award, and the sixth Spanish actor overall. G-Force (2009) is her most commercially successful film.
Cruz has modeled for companies such as Mango, Ralph Lauren and L'Oréal. Cruz and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed items for Mango. She has donated both her time and money to charities. Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working for Mother Teresa; she donated her salary from The Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun's mission. In the 2000s Cruz had been in long term relationships with her co-stars Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey. In the summer of 2010, she married Spanish actor Javier Bardem.
Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Alcobendas, Community of Madrid, Spain, the daughter of Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser and personal manager, and Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic. She was raised Roman Catholic. Throughout her childhood, Cruz lived in Alcobendas, a working-class suburb, although she spent "a lot" of time at her grandmother's apartment. Cruz is the oldest of three siblings; she has a younger brother, Eduardo, who is a singer, and a younger sister, Mónica, who is an actress. She has said that she had a happy childhood, and Charlie Rose of 60 Minutes described Cruz's childhood as a "simple life". In 2000, Cruz stated that as a child she would throw herself on the floor and "start kicking and breaking things" when she did not get her way. Initially, Cruz had no ambition to be an actress and focused on dance, having studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory. She received three years of Spanish ballet training and four years of theater at Cristina Rota's New York school.
When Cruz was a teenager she began having an interest in acting after seeing the film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. She began doing casting calls for an agent, but was rejected multiple times because the agent felt that she was too young. Cruz commented on the experience that "I was very extroverted as a kid. [...] I was studying when I was in high school at night, I was in ballet and I was doing castings. I looked for an agent and she sent me away three times because I was a little girl but I kept coming back. I'm still with her after all these years." 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."
Early work, 1991–1996
In 1990 and 1991 Cruz hosted the Spanish television talk show La Quinta Marcha, a program that is hosted by teenagers, aimed at a teenage audience. In 1992, Cruz made her feature film debut at 17 as the lead femal