Penélope Cruz (Actress)
Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974), better known as Penélope Cruz, is a Spanish actress. Signed by an agent at age 15, 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 first Spanish actress to receive a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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.
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 city, 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 a foreshadowing way Cruz remembers when she was four years old, "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."
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. She commented that "I used to take my toenails—they would die from dancing—so I would just take the whole toenail and throw it away, and not feel anything," however, ballet instilled in her discipline that would be important in her future acting career.
It was at age 10 or 11, that she became a big fan of movies. With no movie theaters nearby her first relationship with cinema was watching movies on Betamax. Her father bought this "[Betamax] machine" of which Cruz recalls was very rare to own one in her neighborhood at the time. 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."
2001 marked a turning point when Cruz starred in the feature films Vanilla Sky and Blow. In Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe's interpretation of Open Your Eyes, she played Sofia Serrano, the love interest of Tom Cruise's character. The film received mixed reviews but made $200 million worldwide. Her performance was well received by critics, with BBC film critic Brandon Graydon saying that Cruz "is an enchanting screen presence," and Ethan Alter of the Film Journal International noting that Cruz and her co-star Cruise were "able to generate some actual chemistry."
Her next film was Blow, adapted from Bruce Porter's 1993 book Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All. She had a supporting role as Mirtha Jung, the wife of Johnny Depp's character. The film received mixed reviews, but made $80 million worldwide. Nina Willdorf of the Boston Phoenix described Cruz as "multi-talented" and Mark Salvo of the Austin Chronicle wrote "I may be one of the last male holdouts to join the Cruz-Rules camp, but her tour de force performance here sucks you right in."
In 2001, Cruz also appeared in Don't Tempt Me, playing Carmen Ramos. The film received negative reviews,. Jeff Vice of the Deseret News commented that "unfortunately, casting Cruz as a tough girl is a hilariously bad one..." and Michael Miller of the Village Voice writing that "as Satan's helper Carmen, Penélope Cruz doesn't hold a candle to her cocaine-huffing enabler in Blow."
Cruz's last film in 2001 was Captain Corelli's Mandolin, film adaption of the novel of the same name. She played Pelagia, who falls in love with another man while her fiancé is in battle during World War II. Captain Corelli's Mandolin was not well received by critics, but made $62 million worldwide.
In 2002 she had a minor role in Waking Up in Reno. It had negative reviews and was a box office failure, making $267,000 worldwide. The following year, Cruz had a minor role in the horror film Gothika, as Chloe Sava, a patient at a mental hospital. David Rooney of Variety wrote that Cruz "adds a serviceably malevolent edge to Chole's apparent madness." Cruz's performance in Fanfan la Tulipe, also in 2003, was not well received, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian commenting that Cruz "deserves a special Cannes Razzie for a performance of purest teak."
In 2004 Cruz appeared in the Christmas film Noel as Nina, the girlfriend of Paul Walker's character and as Mia in the romantic drama, Head in the Clouds, set in the 1930s. Head in the Clouds performed poorly at the box office. For Head in the Clouds, Bruce Birkland of Jam! Canoe said, "The story feels forced and the performances dreary, with the notable exception of Cruz, who seems to be in a different film from the rest of the cast." Desson Thompson of the Washington Post was more critical; his comment about the character's "pronounced limp" was that "Cruz (hardly the world's greatest actress) can't even perform without looking fake." She also starred in Sergio Castellitto’s melodrama Don’t Move. Cruz, who learned Italian for the role, earned critical acclaim for her performance and won the David di Donatello. She was also awarded the European Film Award for Best Actress for the film in 2004.
In 2005 Cruz appeared as Dr Eva Rojas in the action adventure Sahara. She earned $1.6 million for her supporting role. The film grossed $110 million worldwide but did not recoup its $160 million budget. Moviefone dubbed the film "one of the most famous flops in history" and in 2007 listed it at 24 on its list of "Biggest Box-Office Turkeys of All Time" .
Lori Hoffman of the Atlantic City Weekly felt Cruz put her "considerable [acting] skills on cruise control as Dr Eva Rojas" and James Berardnelli of ReelViews described Cruz's performance as a "black hole," that she "lacks screen presence." Also in 2005 Cruz appeared in Chromophobia, screened at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and released the following year. Mathew Turner of View London said Cruz's character Gloria, a cancer-riddled prostitute, is "actually more interesting than the main storyline" while Time Evan's of Sky Movies wrote, "The Cruz/Ifans storyline – featuring the only two remotely sympathetic characters – never really fuses with the main plot."
Her final 2005 film was Don't Move playing Italia. Eric Harrison of the Houston Chronicle noted that Cruz "goes all out" with her appearance and Patrick Peters of Empire magazine commented that the film's director, who also appears in the film, was able to draw a "sensitive performance" from Cruz.
Cruz appeared in the 2006 Western comedy film, Bandidas, as María Álvarez, a poor farm girl who robs banks with a wealthy friend to combat an enforcer terrorizing their town. Randy Cordova of the Arizona Republic said the film "sports" Cruz and her co-star Salma Hayek as the "lusty dream team" and that they were the "marketing fantasy" for the film. A writer for 20minutos.es called Cruz and Hayek the "demand curves" of the film.
In 2007 Cruz appeared in the lead female role in Manolete, a biopic of bullfighter Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez, playing Antoñita "Lupe" Sino. She also appeared in The Good Night, playing two characters, Anna and Melody. The film received negative reviews and did not perform well at the box office.
Later that year she starred in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona as María Elena, a mentally unstable woman. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised Cruz's performance in the film, commenting, "Cruz looks as if she has wandered in from a more hefty film entirely; everything she does and says seems to mean more, count for more. This isn't to say that she gets bigger laughs, or perhaps any laughs, but she certainly walks off with the film." Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter remarked that the film "belongs" to Cruz and her co-star Bardem.
Cruz's next film was the kid-friendly animated film, G-Force, which was released to theaters in July 2009. In the film, she voiced a guinea pig spy named Juarez. G-Force was a commercial success, making over $290 million worldwide. Also in 2009, she appeared in the film Broken Embraces as Lena, the lead character's mistress and assistant who is an aspiring actress. Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times wrote "Cruz, so lovely she hardly seems real, makes Lena both vulnerable and steely. Lena's life, it seems, is turning into a movie that she can't escape, as men and cameras seem to blur together and her dazzling smile becomes little defense."
Cruz's final 2009 film was the film version of the musical Nine, playing the character Carla Albanese, the lead character's mistress. Variety reported that Cruz had originally auditioned for the role of the film within a film's star, Claudia, which eventually went to Nicole Kidman. Cruz said that she trained for three months for the dance routine in the film. The film generated negative reviews and was a financial failure.
In 2010, Cruz appeared in the film Sex and the City 2, the sequel to the 2008 film, in a cameo role. Cruz will appear in her biggest Hollywood turn to date, in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film as Angelica Teach, Blackbeard's daughter and the former love interest of Captain Jack Sparrow. This film has Cruz and director Rob Marshall returning once more for a film. On April 1, 2011 Cruz received the 2,436th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the El Capitan Theatre. Cruz becomes the first Spanish actress to receive a Star. Cruz is set to reunite with Italian director Sergio Castellitto in his war tale "Venuto al Mondo" as Gemma, a single mother who brings her teenage son to Sarajevo, where the boy’s father died during the Balkan War.
Penélope Cruz on Wikipedia