People - Penélope Cruz

Actress, August 28, 1974

Penélope Cruz was born in Madrid on 28 August 1974 to Eduardo Cruz, a car salesman, and Encarna Sanchez, a hairdresser. While her beginnings were decidedly lower-middle class, this star-to-be decided her destiny at the age of just 15, when she saw Pedro Almodóvar's film Átame (Tie Me up, Tie Me Down) . It was then that she knew she wanted to work with the film-maker himself.

The road to fame took Penélope Cruz through nine years of classical ballet training, four years of dance school in New York and three more of Spanish ballet with Ángela Garrido. She also dedicated much time to try-outs and castings, until she was selected as the star of a Mecano video. From there she had the chance to act on a Spanish TV series which allowed her to make important contacts. Her debut on the big screen came with Jamón Jamón in 1992, and with that, she was closer than ever to her dream of working with Almodóvar.

In fact, in 1997 she landed a small part in his film Carne Tremula (Live Flesh), and then finally, after a long list of cinema productions, was selected to star in Volver, the Almodóvar film that gave her the chance to win Best Female Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and also, in 2006, to become the first Spanish actress nominated for an Oscar. In 2007, she followed up with a Goya, again, thanks to Volver.

Her countless nominations finally bore fruit when, in 2009, Penélope was awarded an Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Supporting Actress in Woody Allen's romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008); she also won her second Goya for the part. Cruz stirred a frenzy of media attention at the award ceremony where she wore a stunning ivory-coloured vintage Pierre Balmain gown. Fighting back the tears during her acceptance speech, she laughed that despite the excitement, she might be the 'first to faint' at the ceremony. The speech also gave her an opportunity to thank Pedro Almodóvar for including her 'on so many of his adventures'.

Cruz was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Rob Marshall's musical Nine.

Penélope Cruz came to Andalucia to film Manolete, a movie in which she played the part of the bullfighter's lover, Lupe - an aspiring actress whom his mother and close friends detested. The filming took place in Córdoba and Cádiz, while another location was the bullring in Alicante, on the Costa Blanca.

Penélope hit the headlines again in July 2010 after secretly tying the knot with actor Javier Bardem at a private ceremony in the Bahamas. Not long after this, and amid press speculation of a growing bump on the set of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, representatives of the couple announced that they were expecting their first child in March 2011. The newlyweds first worked together nearly 20 years ago on Jamon Jamon, but only began dating in 2007 after working together on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and have maintained a remarkably low profile. After the pregnancy announcement, Woody Allen publicly congratulated the couple, suggesting that they would make "great" parents.

Penélope's newest role is as love interest to Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, to be released in 2011.

In January 2011, Penélope gave birth to a baby boy, Leonardo Encinas Bardem, at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, shortly before Javier Bardem's latest Oscar nomination - for Biutiful - was announced.

On February 12th 2013 the announcement came that the couple were expecting their second child and were thought to be around three months pregnant. The latest Hollywood pregnancy, and subsequently baby, will be followed closely by Spain's "prensa rosa", as well as the international press, being the offspring of two such famous, good-looking and talented actors.

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