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Penelope Cruz

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Date of Birth: April 28, 1974
One of Spain’s leading ladies of the 1990s, Penelope Cruz has managed to make her mark on international audiences as well. Born in Madrid, Spain, Cruz was one of three children of a merchant and a hairdresser. After years of intensive study in ballet and jazz, she broke into acting in 1992 with starring roles in major Spanish films such as Jamn Jamn and Belle Epoque. The former cast her as the desperately poor daughter of a village prostitute, while the latter featured her as one of four lusty daughters of a wealthy man in pre-Franco Spain. Belle Epoque proved to be a huge success, winning nine Goya Awards (the Spanish equivalent of an Academy Award) and an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Its success gave Cruz a dose of international recognition, and, after starring in a number of Spanish films, she enhanced this recognition in 1997 with the Sundance entry Abre los Ojos. That same year, she had a brief but memorable role in Pedro Almodvar’s Carne TrTmula.
In 1998, Cruz had her first starring role in an English language film playing Billy Crudup’s Mexican-American love interest in Stephen Frears’ The Hi-Lo Country (1998). She had another go at English later that year in the Spanish-British romantic comedy Twice Upon a Yesterday (1998), which cast her as a Spanish barmaid living in London.
In 1999, she returned to Spain to collaborate once again with Almodvar on All About My Mother (1999), a wildly acclaimed film that premiered at Cannes that year and later won on Oscar for Best Foreign Film. In Vanilla Sky (2001), Cruz starred alongside Tom Cruise, who in February 2001, publicly declared his marriage to Nicole Kidman was over. Cruz and Cruise were seen as a couple until January 2004 when they ended their relationship. She then dated Matthew McConaughey for a year from 2005 to 2006.
In 2006 she shared a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival with the rest of the female ensemble cast for Volver (2006), and in 2007, she received a Best Actress Oscar nod for her work in Volver (2006).
In 2009, Cruz won her first Academy Award, for her supporting role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).

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