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Penelope Cruz Actress

Penelope Cruz

The hot star is one of Spain's several extraordinary entertainment exports. Cruz's major acting credentials include "About My Mother ", "Blow", "Vanilla Sky" and "Gothika". Penelope Cruz Sanchez was born in Madrid, Spain, on the 28th of April 1974. Raised along with brother Eduardo and sister Monica in Madrid, Penelope was always fond of the arts, particularly ballet and jazz. Her passion for dance led to her decision to abandon traditional schooling, focusing her time and energy instead on the graceful art of ballet. Pe, as she is nicknamed, may not have her high school diploma, but she is very much educated. Before making the transition to acting, Penelope had completed 10 years of classical ballet training, 3 years of Spanish ballet training and 4 years of Theater at Cristina Rota's New York school. Penelope's first casting call came in 1991's El Laberinto griego, and her big break in Spanish film camea year later in Jamon, Jamon. 1992 also witnessed her first foray onto international screens in her role in Belle époque -- a massive success that garnered nine Goya Awards (Spanish Oscars) as well as an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It was with Belle époque that Penelope's star power received its first worldwide exposure.

After starring in other Spanish films such as La Celestina and Alegre ma non troppo (1994) and La Celestina (1996), Penelope resurfaced in America again in Abre los ojos, which screened at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Penelope took on a couple more English-language films in the late '90s, but it was a production from her native land that finally launched her into the spotlight. Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) (1999) premiered at the Cannes film festival to rave reviews, then went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Penelope stood out in this project in her role as a pregnant nun, and shortly thereafter was cast alongside Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses (2000). This movie flopped, and Penelope's next film, opposite Johnny Depp in Blow, didn't fare much better. Yet both projects gave Penelope the visibility that she needed at this time, and big-budget flicks like Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Vanilla Sky (2001). 2003 saw Penelope alongside Halle Berry in Gothika and a host of talent that should have known better in Bob Dylan's vanity-disaster Masked and Anonymous. In 2004, Penelope took on roles in Chazz Palminteri's Noel and with Charlize Theron in Head in the Clouds. She was also cast opposite Matthew McConaughey in Sahara (2005). Extremely active in social causes, Penelope has volunteered for NGOs overseas and donated her proceedings from certain films to charities. After having been linked to co-stars Matt Damon and Nicolas Cage, Penelope was involved with the post-Nicole Kidman Tom Cruise between 2001 and 2004.

Her Quote: On working in show business: "I think it is a privilege. Not everybody can do what they want to do and still eat. I'm very lucky. And it's getting better and better."


Getting Into Penelope Cruz's Closet

Penelope Cruz wants some time to clean out her closet. It doesn't matter if it's her closet in Madrid, or the big one at her house in Los Angeles -- she just needs some time to organize.

"I need to relax and organize my closet, which I've been trying to do for five months," she tells Zap2it.com. "I say, 'Today is the day!' And then it never happens."

Today is the day she's in L.A. talking about a small Italian film, "Don't Move" ("Non Ti Muovere") where she plays a woman who has a secret romance with a married doctor and falls in love with him. Then, Cruz hits the road to promote the big budget film "Sahara" which co-stars her new real-life beau Matthew McConaughey, and after that she's finishing up a film in London with Ralph Fiennes, and then heading to Mexico with her best friend Salma Hayek for "Bandidas." Then, before summer, she's off to Spain to work with Pedro Almodovar, who cast her in his Oscar-winning "All About My Mother."

"I travel all the time to wherever the movies take me, but I like traveling," she says leaning back in her chair, as if exhausted. "It's good that I like it because sometimes I fly more than what the stewardesses are allowed to fly. They told me that."

Tugging off her green jacket, ("thank you Dolce & Gaban," she says) she wonders if she has too many shoes in either of her closets, but concludes, "I don't feel guilty because they send them to me and I don't ask for them. So every couple of months I put these big bags of things together and send them to people."

And her designer clothes are hanging up in the same closet with the thrift store sweater she bought for a dollar and wears in "Don't Move." "There are four pages in the book that talk about the way she looks and why she looks like that, and her clothes," Cruz says. "I went and I bought the clothes myself for the whole character with Margaret [Mazzantini], the author of the book, and every sweater that we bought was one dollar. That was one of the things that I got to do for the character."

In "Don't Move," she plays Italia, a waifish poor woman who's savagely raped by a doctor who's trying to escape his bourgeois life. The doctor is played by Italian star Sergio Castellitto, who also directed the project. His wife wrote the novel from which the film is based, and the stars already won best actor awards at their country's Donatello Awards.

"I hope that a lot of people will see this movie here," says Cruz, who's mixed her career well with big U.S. studio films like "Vanilla Sky," "Blow" and "All the Pretty Horses" with foreign indies like "Live Flesh," "Belle Epoque" and "Jamon, Jamon." "I never talk like that. But with this, I really want people to go and see more foreign films."

Cruz says she was as emotionally swept away with this book like she was when she first read "The Catcher in the Rye." "You find some material that for some reason connects with you in a different way," she says. "I was on a plane and I couldn't stop crying, and I was alone and so I had to hide myself behind the book. I was making a lot of noise. They were like, 'Are you okay?' "

Cruz sees both characters as very damaged. The doctor has to deal with his daughter's tragic car accident, and Italia has to deal with the issue of abuse. Cruz says she spent time with women at counseling centers. "I talked to people in those situations, young girls who had gone through that with their own families. The sad thing is that this character never finds a way to get over it and feel like she deserves something better in life."

Cruz has performed in Spanish, French and English, and she worked particularly hard to make her Italian realistic this time.

"When they gave me an award in Italy that was a special day for me because after playing the character of Italia, they would have stoned me if they didn't believe the accent because people love that book," Cruz laughs.

She worries about American audiences misreading "Don't Move." "If you hear that my character falls in love with the guy that rapes her and that's all you hear about the movie, that's going to create controversy obviously, but the movie isn't about that. The movie just reflects the pain of a character that is very damaged. That's what makes her choose a road of self-destruction and she doesn't even know it. But I hope that no one judges that before seeing it."

She hesitates, "I think that both characters are self-destructive and the movie is not trying to make self-destruction cool."

After her public romance with Tom Cruise, she's more careful about what she reveals. "I never talk about my personal life and I feel that it's my right to save that for myself. You learn that lesson and then you don't do it anymore."

She tries to keep things as normal as possible, even in L.A. "I'm used to having four cars behind me, it's like more security for free, I'm never alone," she laughs. But she's angry about her family getting bugged. "I don't like it when they follow my family or when they photograph my family."

Her 20-year-old brother keeps her grounded. He teased her when she took an action role like "Sahara," saying, "You're too clumsy." But he was impressed when he saw her in the film.

"My friends, my family, they are people the people who always tell me the truth," Cruz says.

And part of her truth is that she's not afraid of taking on roles of a mother, although many other actresses who just turned 30 would shun such a role. "I could have a 15-year-old son, physically, I could, honestly, and I love playing a mother. I want to have babies myself. I don't know when. I don't feel it at the moment, but for sure I want to be a mother."

But first thing's first, and she has plenty of movies to star in and promote, and plenty to rent and watch in the comfort of her home.

"There are many movies that have affected my life, that have helped me make decisions and be more brave about things, and believe that things are possible," Cruz says. "The movies have a huge affect on everyone I think."

But Cruz doesn't want audiences to forget her small films, like "Don't Move."

"With this movie I feel so proud, and so I don't feel bad when I say 'Please go and see this movie' because I know it's going to be two hours that are going to be worth it," she says.

"Don't Move" expands to major cities throughout April.

Penelope Cruz finds love, forgets Cruise

For Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, love is a desert bloom. McConaughey and Cruz began their current affair while they were filming their Indiana Jones-style adventure Sahara last year in Morocco.

"I didn't know Penelope before we began work on Sahara. I just knew I wanted her in the film. I really respect her work, especially in her European films," says McConaughey.

According to their co-star Steve Zahn, the affair began near the end of the five-month shoot.

"We all became really good friends really quickly on this film. They didn't become a couple until near the end of the movie. They only became really involved after Sahara was finished," says Zahn.

And he should know because he and Cruz went immediately from Sahara to begin filming Bandidas in Mexico.

"Matthew spent a lot of time in Mexico with us. That's when they really became a couple."

Though a little more circumspect, McConaughey explains: "Penelope was doing her thing as an actor. I was doing my thing. Then I started feeling things for her. I knew our friendship was going to another level."

It was early in the Sahara shoot that Cruz and Tom Cruise split, so she was no longer in a relationship when this one began. McConaughey admits it has taken Cruz some adjusting to his Texas lifestyle.

"Penelope prefers luxury but she's good at roughing it when she has to."

McConaughey has been travelling across America in his van to promote Sahara, including this recent stop in Los Angeles.

Cruz flew in from England to join him for the L.A. press junket. She had been promoting her Italian film Don't Move.

McConaughey is proud to show that Cruz has been teaching him Spanish. He says he's taught her "that the best steaks in the world come off my grill."

When reminded that Cruz was once openly and proudly vegetarian, McConaughey smiles broadly and says: "Not any more, she's not."

For her part, Cruz will confirm that she and McConaughey are a couple, but refuses to be specific.

"It makes me nervous to talk about my private life. It puts you in a very awkward place the moment you do," explains Cruz.

"Once you open that door, it's difficult to close.... You can't talk all about your private life, and then another day, tell people you don't feel like talking about it. You either have to be willing to be open all the time or none of the time and I chose none of the time."

Cruz sparkles for premiere

Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz (seen here in a file picture) has dazzled the crowds at the UK premiere of the controversial Italian film Non Ti Mouvere.

Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz has dazzled the crowds at the UK premiere of the controversial Italian film Non Ti Mouvere.

The 30-year-old actress arrived at the UGC in London’s Haymarket last night, wearing a plunging John Galliano dress covered in sequins.

The Madrid-born actress plays a destitute and impoverished woman called Italia in the film whose title translates as Don’t Move.

The unattractive Italia becomes involved with an upper crust physician called Timoteo, played by Sergio Castellito.

Cruz said she had to spend half an hour each day on set to transform herself into the ugly character.

She said she did not shave her legs or armpits for months, but had welcomed the chance to play the character in a small budget movie.

Penelope said: “I didn’t want to bring my ego to the film. When I am on set it doesn’t matter if I have a large or small trailer. I like something different, the more difficult the character the more chance I have to do something interesting.

“It’s a love story for people who are very, very damaged for different reasons and are trying to find answers in their own way.”

In the film Italia, who was raped by her father as a child, is also repeatedly sexually assaulted by her lover.

The actress, who is dating actor Matthew McConaughey, also spent five hours each day for three months learning Italian to play the role.

She refused to answer questions about whether she may marry Matthew later this year.

The film, shot in Rome, has already earned a best actress award for Cruz at Rome’s David di Donatello awards, the Mediterranean equivalent of the Oscars.

The film is based on a book written by Margaret Mazzantini.

Praise for Penelope Cruz!

Penelope Cruz, who presented her latest film Don't Move in London, has been enjoying praises of both the movie and fashion press.

She got a warm reception from style critics when she arrived for the LA premiere of the film last week, donning a lacquered, back-combed hairstyle with blonde highlights. She looked perfect later in a sequinned John Galliano gown with her hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail.

It isn't just the fashion buffs who were singing praises for her . The star has also been applauded for her performance in Don't Move, though she had to cast aside her glamorous image for the film, which sees her playing an unattractive and destitute young woman who falls in love with a married doctor.

The pretty brunette, who had to learn Italian for the movie, said she wasn't the least bit worried about shedding her glamorous image for the role.

"The reason I became an actress is so I can play all these different characters.If they need to be ugly, if I have to not shave my legs or shave my head - I'll do whatever the character needs. People try to give me extra credit for not being afraid to look ugly, but it's a great opportunity for me", Hello magazine quoted her as saying.

Daring new role for Penelope Cruz

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz explains what drew her to the controversial new Italian drama, Don't Move (Non Ti Muovere).

When you are as beautiful and glamorous as Penelope Cruz, it can be hard to convince people that you are also an actress. Especially when you are best known for your three-year romance with Tom Cruise and are currently dating actor Matthew McConaughey.

It does not help that the 30-year-old Spaniard has yet to make her mark in Hollywood, despite roles in such big-budget releases as Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Gothika and Vanilla Sky.

Luckily she has her native Europe to fall back on and can combine mainstream US releases with more challenging 'arthouse' fare. This month sees her in Italian drama Don't Move (Non Ti Muovere), playing a destitute woman of gypsy stock who embarks on an affair with a married doctor.


Cruz had to fight to be cast in this atypical role. But her determination paid off when she was named best actress at 2004's David di Donatello awards - Italy's version of the Oscars.

Despite this Sergio Castellitto's movie has struggled to find distribution in the UK and the US - and might not have done so without Cruz's help.

"England and America were the last places to buy the film, so I went to meet distributors and tell them how much I love it," she told the BBC News website.

"You have to fight for what you believe in. I want the movie to be seen everywhere."

With its no-holds-barred depiction of an intense romance that begins with consensual rape, Don't Move has provoked its fair share of controversy.


But Cruz maintains few people object once they have actually seen the film.

"I would never do a movie that supports [rape]," she says. "The film is about two people who are very confused and damaged. It doesn't justify any of their actions."

The role of Italia came with unique challenges. Not only did she have to learn Italian for the part; she also had to wear cheap, tarty clothes and stop shaving her legs. Cruz, however, expresses surprise when quizzed on the supposed sacrifices she made for the film.

"The reason I became an actress is so I can play all these different characters," she says.

"If they need to be ugly, if I have to not shave my legs or shave my head - I'll do whatever the character needs. People try to give me extra credit for not being afraid to look ugly, but it's a great opportunity for me."

Edgy parts like Italia have yet to come her way in Hollywood, but Penelope remains optimistic.


"I've only been working in Hollywood for five years so it's natural I'd get offered more risky material here," she says.

"But you can find a lot of great characters there also, and I'm getting more opportunities - like Sahara, for example." In the action adventure Sahara, released in the UK on 8 April, Cruz plays a World Health Organisation doctor who stumbles upon a plague in Africa.

However, she refuses to discuss her on-set romance with co-star Matthew McConaughey, or indeed any other aspect of her private life.

"I don't get defensive when somebody asks but I never answer," she says.

"I never feel I have to talk about anything that makes me uncomfortable. I just don't play that game."

With comedy western Bandidas in the can and two new collaborations with Pedro Almodovar in the pipeline, the immediate future looks bright.

But Cruz maintains she is in for the long haul and that growing old - the death knell for many a starlet's career - holds no fear.

"The day I'm 80 I'll have a huge party," she says. "I hope I have as many wrinkles as my grandmother, and that every wrinkle tells a story."

Penelope Cruz talks about starring in the upcoming action movie, Sahara

Penelope Cruz has worked in film for more than a decade, but it's only in the last several years that she finally, perhaps inevitably, found her way to Hollywood. She has since worked with some of Tinseltown's toughest leading men, including Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise, and proved her mettle in all capacities except for that as an action heroine. With the release of Sahara, she intends to prove she can kick as much ass as any actress in the industry.

During the recent press day for her upcoming independent drama Don't Move, Cruz spoke to IGN FilmForce about her experiences on the anticipated action movie. She says that moving from the Italian film's micro-budget to Sahara's expansive production proved to be little trouble. "I feel like I can adapt to other situations," Cruz explains, comparing the two. "My trailer in Don't Move was really, really tiny, and Sergio and I had the same trailer, like door to door. [But] I didn't want to have a big trailer. I didn't want to be living in a big trailer like the ones [Hollywood productions] have while I was playing that character."

In Don't Move, Cruz plays a homely, destitute woman who falls for a successful Italian doctor. Because of the physical changes undertaken to play that role, she contends that it helped significantly for her to separate herself from the rest of the cast and crew, whether it's hypothetically for something small or big. "If I played a character like that here, I still think I would be in a small trailer, because you spend those hours everyday dressing like that and seeing the people on the set who are embarrassed to look at you because of the way that you look.

"You have to take what you have in a situation and use it to your advantage and give it to whoever the character is. I felt so privileged that they gave this character to me that I didn't want to bring my ego to the set. I just wanted to give her everything she needed."
For Sahara Cruz says that bringing what her character needed required a lot more than sequestering oneself in a tiny trailer. Specifically, it necessitated getting familiar with a camel, a prospect she did not look forward to. "It's been a great experience because it's the first time that I've done an action adventure film and I felt like I was Indiana Jones," she gushes. "[But] I was doing all of these crazy things where I had to learn how to ride a camel. The day that I got on the camel, I said, 'Bring me down. There is no way.' I told the director, 'I have to do this with a double,' and he said, 'No, we want you to do it. The actors have to do this scene. It's one of the most important scenes in the movie.'"
"I've never said no to a director for something like that because of fear," she reveals. "So I trained and trained and trained. I became best friends with my camel. He was talking to me, and I ended up galloping next to a train at forty kilometers per hour in the middle of the two guys because I never wanted to be the last one, like being treated like the girl."

Despite her initial reservations, Cruz says that her enthusiasm and dedication sufficiently convinced her co-stars and director she could overcome any challenge – even the stigma of being 'the girl' amongst a group of grizzly guys. "Steve [Zahn] and Matthew [McConaughey] were there and we weren't taking breaks for lunch," she remembers. "We were training with a great trainer that we had there, and who came with us everywhere. I didn't want to be 'the girl.' I was the girl, but I didn't want to be treated like physically I could do less. So we trained really hard, and it was great working with them."

While folks like ourselves, who sit trapped in office cubicles all day, would naturally consider inconceivable the idea of busting a camel's hump, Cruz says that such opportunities are the best part of her enviable job. "It's fun," she admits. "Now with Bandidas, I have to learn to do all the tricks with the guns. I was so bad at it. [But] you get to train at things that you would have never learned unless for the job. All of these languages, maybe I wouldn't have learned them if I didn't have to use them in my movies. I love that there's always more to learn. The day that I'm eighty years old, if I'm still working there is always more to learn. So that keeps me young."

Despite the workout regimen she easily conquered while shooting the film, Cruz says she doesn't naturally flock to physical activity. "[I work out] like three times a week, something like that," she says. "When I'm shooting, it's more difficult for me to work out, unless I'm doing something like Sahara where you need to everyday, really, because if not you get hurt."

At the same time, she says she enjoys toppling her younger brother's disparaging opinions of her. "My brother is twenty and he was very surprised that they would cast me for something like that," she explains. "He said, 'You're too clumsy. How are you going to do it?' Then when he saw it, he was like, 'Wow.' I love that, that you can surprise someone in your family. You know how little brothers always make light of you that way, treat you like the girl, and it was fun."

While she admits that it's a lot of fun to travel to exotic locales and explore opportunities the rest of us only dream about, Cruz says that she hopes she can learn from each of these experiences and enjoy them one at a time. "It's just something that's fun to know that if I ever get back to Morocco, I can get on my camel and without saying anything I can gallop away, and anyone there is going to be very impressed," she says.

Describing her upcoming plans simply, she continues, "I'm going to be doing the publicity for Don't Move here and in New York and really treating this movie the same way that I treat an American film, doing all the big shows and Jay Leno and doing everything that I would do for an American movie just to encourage people to go and see more foreign films and especially this one because I love it so much. I'm going to really take the time to do that job properly, because it's a lot of work, and then I'm going to do all the tour for Sahara, which comes out April 8th. I also want to do that and enjoy it.

"It's hard work and when you're combining it with something else it gets too crazy. I want to do one thing at a time."

Penelope Cruz Talks About "Gothika"

As actress Penelope Cruz explains, her character in the supernatural thriller “Gothika” isn’t crazy, she’s just misunderstood. Cruz plays Chloe, a mentally disturbed patient at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women whose claims of torture are dismissed by the doctors in charge of the institute.

“Penelope only had a few scenes to bring this character alive and she discovered what Chloe was all about in just six days on set. She put everything she had into this role, and she’s really remarkable in it,” enthused director Mathieu Kassovitz.

I’ve learned from previous experience working premieres, you have to lean in to hear soft-spoken Penelope Cruz. Cruz comes across as congenial yet a little shy while addressing questions from reporters. At the World Premiere of “Gothika,” Cruz spoke about making her first scary movie and her admiration for “Gothika” star, Halle Berry.


How was your experience making this film?
I enjoyed very much working with Halle [Berry]. It was a very different kind of project for me from the movies that I’ve done in America. This was a very different character. I’ve had characters like this in Europe, but it’s still like the beginning of my career in America. I’ve only done like 5 movies here [and] I’ve done 30 movies in Europe, so this is still kind of my beginning.

How would you describe your character?
She’s a woman no one listens to, no one believes. She’s in a state where she’s living in hell. They’re making her sick because they’re keeping her there, basically because of having nobody listen to what she has to say.

I never looked at this character as somebody that was crazy. I never looked at it like that. I think the fact that they are treating her like that, and they are doing all these things to her, is making her act like a crazy person. She knows very well and she defends that. She knows that she’s not crazy.

Did you basically just wear a hospital gown the whole time?
Yes, the whole time (laughing).

How did you prepare for this role?
I always prepare in a similar way. Researching different places, wherever makes me feel inspired for [the role].

How would you describe “Gothika?”
It’s a very intriguing thriller. I think it doesn’t remind me of [any other movie]. I’ve never been part of this kind of movie before. I’ve never done a scary movie before.

And your experience working with Halle Berry and Robert Downey Jr.?
Great. With Robert, I didn’t get to meet him but a few times but I admire his work as an actor. With Halle, I had all my scenes with her and I love her.

How crazy is it with both you and Tom Cruise (“The Last Samurai”) having big movies coming out so close together?
It’s great because we love what we do, you know? I’ve been so privileged that I can wake up every day and make movies and work hard and keep studying. It just makes me so happy.

Penelope Cruz: "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"


What attracted you to this part?
I read the script and fell in love with the story, the character, and I really wanted to work with John Madden. I love his work as a director. He loves actors and never makes you feel alone. It was very hard work from the beginning but worth it.

What was the best part of working on this film?
Everything - working with John Madden, learning so much, the whole casting. It was magical from the beginning. We worked really, really hard but it was worth it every moment.

What about the location of the shoot?
The island was magic. Some people came to visit us and went back again this summer. It's a magical place, very similar to some of the Spanish islands and very similar culture to some of the islands. It was very beautiful.

Is it hard to stay connected with your family and friends, with all the work you've been doing recently?
On a personal level, I've had a lot of changes. I'm really happy with my life and I'm happy to be resting for the first time in many years. My brother is here at the Premiere, and my parents are my best friends. I still have the same friends I've had for 15 years. All that has stayed the same, thank God.

What's next for you?
Rest, lots of rest. I've been working nonstop and need a long vacation. I haven't had a long vacation in a long time.

Matthew McConaughey to propose to Penelope Cruz

Matthew McConaughey is reportedly set to propose to Penelope Cruz.

The handsome actor, who met the beautiful actress on the set of their movie 'Sahara' last year, has asked Penelope's father for his daughter's hand in marriage, according to Britain's Daily Express newspaper.

Penelope, 30, began dating 34-year-old Matthew last year following her split from Hollywood heartthrob Tom Cruise, after he comforted her when her father, Eduardo, suffered a heart attack scare.

While the couple are keen to keep their relationship as private as possible, Penelope recently expressed her wishes that she and Matthew had enjoyed a steamy sex romp in new film 'Sahara'.

The beautiful actress says, although the pair share a romantic moment together in the adventure movie, viewers won't be treated to an on-film sex scene.
The star revealed: "'Sahara' reminds me a lot of the Indiana Jones movies. I play a scientist and, believe me, there is a lot of action!

"But we don't have any love scenes, sorry! There's one scene at the beach that's romantic, but no love scenes unfortunately."

The brunette beauty had staunchly denied rumours she was dating Matthew until last month when she told a Mexican newspaper they shared "something" together.

She admitted: "We are dating and I don't have any problems in confirming it. But that's all I'm going to say."

Cruz to star in new Almodovar film

Penelope Cruz is to star in Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's next project 'Volver', which will begin shooting over the summer.

The director describes 'Volver' (the literal meaning of which is 'to come back') as a generational comedy about three women, a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter.

The action will be set between Madrid and Almodovar's native La Mancha and will involve ghosts and tango in the plot.

Almodovar's 'Bad Education' ('La Mala Educacion') won the Nastro d'Argento prize for best foreign film in Rome over the weekend.

Penelope Cruz previously starred in Almodovar's 'All About My Mother' ('Todo Sobre Mi Madre').

Cruz and McConaughey team up again

Off screen couple Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey are to star in a new love story called 'The Loop'.

Variety reports that the film is an adaptation of the Joe Coomer novel and tells the story of a loner highway patrolman who, after meeting an attractive librarian, decides to search for his long-lost parents.

The film marks the directorial debut of former ad director SR Bindler.

Cruz and McConaughey will be seen together on Irish cinema screens later this year in the action-adventure 'Sahara'; it opens on 8 April.

More facts about Penelope Cruz:

Mother: Encarna Cruz, hairdresser, manager; oversees Cruz's business affairs
Father: Eduardo Cruz, auto mechanic
Sister: Monica, professional flamenco dancer; born in 1977
Brother: Eduardo Jr.; born in 1985
Awards: 1999: Goya: Best Actress, La Nina de tus Ojos/The Girl of Your Dreams
Cruz spent one week as a volunteer at Mother Theresa's children's sanctuary in Calcutta and later donated her salary from The Hi-Lo Country to the organization.


Cruz-Ing Into Hollywood Big Time

She's made a dynamic leap from European actress to Hollywood superstar - but for Penelope Cruz the sudden rise to fame and fortune hasn't come without a price.

The exquisitely beautiful Spanish star has been at the centre of rumours linking her to most of her leading men and was even accused of breaking up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage.

The actress, who stars with Cruise in the yet to be released film Vanilla Sky, has had to learn quickly how to deal with the intense interest surrounding her.

"I have been hearing gossip and lies since I began working," she says with a dismissive wave of her hand, "When I was 17 I used to get very angry because I opened a magazine and I saw myself in a picture on a motorcycle and the headline was, 'I'm getting married next month'. I had a boyfriend at the time and I was so embarrassed that he was going to think I would say that to the press," she adds in her distinctive broken English.

"Now I have seen that I am not the only one that has to go through that because everyone who is in the public eye unfortunately has to go through that and sometimes it is very unfair. But I try not to put too much attention into those things and use my energy for some other things I have to do in my life. I don't even want to get angry about those things now."

She admits that the rumours may stem from the fact that she likes to flirt sometimes.

"Matt (Damon) and I were only ever friends, but sometimes all these stories are written. Just because we are celebrities it doesn't give anyone the right to ask who we sleep with," she says firmly.

But however much the 27-year old star tries to shrug off the gossip it continues to dog her. Her latest on-screen romance with Nicolas Cage, was also rumoured to have spilled from script to real life.

The pair play lovers in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the much-awaited big screen adaptation of Louis de Bernieres best-selling novel.

The two spent weeks filming on the idyllic Greek island of Cephallonia but while she is full of praise for her co-star, Cruz insists their love affair was only ever a celluloid one.

"It seems part of some Hollywood game to put people together," she says of the rumoured romance.
"I grew up watching Nic's movies. I think he's one of the best actors in the world. I think he's done amazing things. I was very happy about working with him, and when I saw him I was looking at him with my mouth open because he can do anything he wants," she adds with a shy smile.

In the film, Cruz plays Pelagia, daughter of the island doctor, who falls for Captain Corelli (Cage) a member of the Occupying Italian forces during World War II.

Although the Madrid-based actress had to learn Greek dancing and speak with a local accent for the shoot, she says she felt completely at home on Cephallonia.

"I was shooting in a place which was similar to some of the islands in Spain where I spent some time when I was growing up," she explains. "I don't think we are so different the Greek and Spanish. It was a beautiful experience from the moment we arrived. We worked very hard, but it was a happy and magical experience," she beams.

Infact, the talented star fell in love with Pelagia, even before she was cast in the part.

"I loved the character," she recalls. "When I read the script. I was on a plane going from LA to Madrid and I was crying and I was saying I hope they call me to do an audition for this movie. Then I arrived and they told me they were calling so it happened almost at the same time I had the script.

"I like the character very much and I like her too as a woman. I understand her very well."

Cruz, who became a star in Spain when she was a teenager after appearing in the film Jamon Jamon, will next be seen in two more high profile Hollywood films, Vanilla Sky and Blow, alongside Johnny Depp. But the actress, who still lives near her parents in Madrid says she has no intention of uprooting to LA.

"I'm happy with the way things are going because I've been working for 11 years in my country and now I'm making a movie in Madrid in Spanish," she explains.

"I never left but I haven't worked there in two years and I really wanted to work. The thing that really makes me happy is the real work and rehearsing and creating the character and the process of making the movie. Hollywood's not real," she adds with a defiant smile. It's about what you have become, rather than who you really are."

Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz Call It Quits

And Penélope have ended their Cruise-Cruz merger.

The heartthrob duo split up at the end of January, according to Cruise's sister and new publicist Lee Anne DeVette. She called the split "amicable."

The breakup is attributed at least in part to the comely celebs' busy filming schedules, which kept them apart for long periods of time.

Cruz's spokesman, Robert Garlock, told People magazine that neither star is dating anyone else and that they "remain good friends."

E! Online's gossip Guru Ted Casablanca revealed as much in last month's Awful Truth column when he broke the news of their breakup. Obviously in denial at that time, a rep sniffed the story was "absolutely not true."

While Cruise is highly active in the Church of Scientology, Cruz never took the conversion plunge.

According to Garlock, Cruz took "[church] courses and she's found them beneficial," but apparently not beneficial enough to make the shift to Scientology.

However, Garlock said that Cruise's religion did not play a part in the breakup.

The pair has been dating for the last three years, since making Vanilla Sky together shortly after Cruise's high-profile split from Nicole Kidman.

Their relationship has often been the stuff of prime tabloid fodder and subjected to intense public scrutiny.

Cruz, a lower-level celebrity than Cruise at the time of their coupling, was abruptly thrust under the requisite A-lister microscope that came with dating the Mission: Impossible star.

Last year, Cruz sued an Australian tabloid for making defamatory statements about her character and the nature of her association with Cruise.

The Top Gun star, in turn, has successfully waged courtroom battles in defense of his hetero status.

The breakup with Cruz is not Cruise's first long-term relationship to end this year. Earlier this month, the actor announced that he had ended his association with Pat Kingsley, his publicist of 14 years.

While Kingsley claimed the split was friendly, the New York Daily News quoted a source who claimed the publicist was uncomfortable with Cruise's recent open discussion of his Scientology beliefs.

Replacement publicist DeVette, who's also a Scientologist, denied rumors that the shift in Cruise control was religion related.

Both Cruise and Cruz have numerous projects lined up to keep their minds off potentially lonely hearts.

Cruise's slate includes the third installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, the thriller Collateral with Jamie Foxx and the World War II drama Ghost Soldiers with Steven Spielberg.

Cruz will star in the upcoming Head in the Clouds with Best Actress winner Charlize Theron and Sahara opposite Matthew McConaughey.

Cruz Hoppin' Mad at Aussie Tab

It's not exactly a g'day for Penélope Cruz.

The sultry Spanish beauty is suing the Australian magazine New Idea for, she claims, dissing on her relationship with Tom Cruise, her attorneys confirmed on Tuesday.
"The proceedings state that the article contains a number of false and defamatory statements concerning Ms. Cruz," read a statement from her legal firm, Gadens Lawyers, on Tuesday, the same day the suit was filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

"Ms. Cruz seeks substantial damages and is confident that legal proceedings will vindicate her reputation."

No word exactly what scandalous bit of gossip she is fuming about. The lawsuit hasn't been made public, her lawyers are mum on the details, and New Idea isn't commenting, citing the pending litigation.

That means we'll likely have to wait until May 30, when the first hearing is scheduled, before we learn what all the fuss is over.

Suffice it to say, being Tom Cruise's girlfriend ain't easy.

Cruz has expended a great deal of energy fending off the tabs after linking up with the mega-star following the demise of his marriage to Oscar winner Nicole Kidman.

Still, it's usually Tom who resorts to the legal power. In January, he won a $10 million judgment against a gay porn star who falsely claimed he slept with the actor. Then there was the $100 million lawsuit he brought against a magazine publisher who claimed he had a video detailing Cruise in some serious, um, risky business with another man. That suit was settled in November 2001, for an undisclosed sum, and the publisher issued a retraction. And last September, he and Kidman teamed up to sue a cosmetics manufacturer for using their famous faces in an advertisement, without the power couple's permission.

Meanwhile, Cruise and Cruz will send shutterbugs scurrying next month, when they are scheduled to grace the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of the latter's new French swashbuckler, Fanfan La Tulipe, which is kicking off the annual gala. Coincidentally, Kidman is also due on the Croisette to plug her new film, Dogville.

But there's no need to put up a catfight alert. According to Kidman, all is well between the exes--so well, in fact, that she even called Cruise up after snagging the Oscar last month for Best Actress (let's hope she didn't rub it in his Academy Award-less face).

"We have very different lives now," Kidman told People magazine. "But as I've said to Tom, I will be there for him for the rest of his life, always there."


The Spanish siren Penelope Cruz on fainting spells, wild movies and, oh yeah, that Tom Cruise guy

Wherever Penélope Cruz goes, intense interest follows--partially because the young Spanish actress is uncommonly beautiful, partially due to her provocative work with such bad boy European directors as Bigas Luna (Jamón, Jamón) and Pedro Almodóvar (Live Flesh, All About My Mother) and partially because...well, people talk.

When she made All the Pretty Horses, Cruz was rumored to have come between costar Matt Damon and then girlfriend Winona Ryder. Similar gossip emerged from the Greek island of Cephallonia, where the World War II-set Captain Corelli's Mandolin--the new release in which she plays a local in reluctant love with Nicolas Cage's occupying Italian soldier-- was filmed by Shakespeare in Love director John Madden.

And now, while reports of romance are being denied, very public sightings with a newly divorced Tom Cruise, her costar in the holiday release Vanilla Sky, are making headlines.

Cruz remains circumspect about her personal life--making the situation, as she might phrase it, even more interesting, no? One thing is certain: When Cruz does something onscreen, it's impossible not to be intrigued.

You're young, you're beautiful, you're Spanish. Has it been difficult for you to be considered a serious actress instead of just an exotic babe?
Well, I needed a character like [Captain Corelli's'] Pelagia to continue my career, to not get stuck into a box, like, "You are this, and this is what we're going to call you." I have escaped from that, but with a lot of worry. It took me time to learn that I had to say no to a lot of things.

This is your biggest and most demanding English-language role yet. Is it something you've been aiming for your whole career?
I never saw this as the end of my career in Spain and a beginning of another one. It's a continuation of something I started when I was almost a kid. I'm very happy with this movie and this character. And I'm very grateful to John Madden that he gave me a character that has weight and is in every scene and goes through so much. I hadn't done a character like this in English before.

In Greek-accented English, too, which must have been tricky.
We worked on the Greek accent. The accent was important, and it's very similar to our Spanish accent, but some of the R's and some of the sounds are different. As for the rest of it, I think they have a very similar culture, Greece and Spain.

Pelagia is naturally reluctant to admit that she's attracted to Nicolas Cage's Corelli, him being the enemy and all.
Yes, she has internal battles between what her heart is saying and what she's supposed to be doing in a situation like that. But I think she knows from the beginning that that's the person.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like that?
I haven't been in a situation exactly like that, but I think all of us can relate to similar things, no? It doesn't have to be necessarily with love, but with many things in life, you have to make choices, and there is confusion. Everyone has confusion about everything.

Want to clear up any confusion on the matter and tell us how you feel about Tom Cruise?
He's generous, he's amazing--an amazing person.

Has the media frenzy over you two in the past month made you reluctant to discuss your personal life?
Of course. I feel that now, because I do get followed everywhere. But I have been dealing with it also, before. I just don't want to talk about it in interviews. I want to keep it for myself.

The press has, correctly or incorrectly, linked you romantically to several of your leading men. Do you feel unfairly singled out?
No, I think it happens to anyone who has a profession like this one. Sometimes, I think it goes too far, but I don't read the gossip. I don't really get affected by it, because what matters is how you deal with it. So, I prefer to spend my time focusing on the work.

Read it or not, you still must have been exposed to some of the rumors. What was the weirdest one you know about?
That happened with my brother, who is 16. We were in New York, and I was on the street with him--and they said he was my new boyfriend.

How do your parents respond to things like that?
They ask me if I'm happy, and if I'm happy, they're happy. But they never care. I mean, they gave me a lot of freedom when I was young, and I've always appreciated that.

Your family hung out on Cephallonia while you were making Corelli's. Is it weird to have relatives around when you're working?
My brother came to watch me do an action scene one day, running through the earthquake rubble and the woods. He started calling me Forrest Gump and said people were going to laugh when they saw the way I ran. I said, "Don't come to the set again. I don't need you telling me those things."

Any other difficulties making Corelli's?
I wasn't eating too much, because the role was emotionally draining. And it was, like, 120 degrees on the island. It just exhausted me. When I got home, I just fainted. But I loved that feeling, because you feel that you worked hard. My mother was scared, though.

What can you tell us about your next movie, Vanilla Sky, with Cruise and his Jerry Maguire director, Cameron Crowe?
Little, because I think Cameron should be the first person to talk about it. I think it's okay to say my character has five jobs; she's a dancer and an artist and a very independent woman. And for the first time in English, I play a girl from my city, Madrid.
You played the same role in Open Your Eyes, the Spanish movie on which Vanilla Sky is based.
But the character is very different. In some scenes there were very, very similar moments.

Going back to our first question a bit, do you consider yourself a "sexy Spanish superstar," like a lot of people call you?
It always makes me laugh because in Spain, you don't really grow up with the concept of a star. It doesn't exist in the European industry.

But you made some pretty wild movies there.
One. There is only one you can say that about. I haven't done those kinds of movies. My first movie has some content that way, but I chose that movie because of other reasons. It was really interesting, and I wanted to work with that director, and there was a great character--and then, immediately, I changed to something else.

So, you're saying you're basically a modest person?

Meaning that you don't need to call attention to yourself.
No, I don't need that to feel secure. I don't like that.

And what about the superstar part? Can you ever conceive of yourself acting like a diva, lying about your age, any of that?
No, I would never lie about my age. There are other things I want to do with my life. I want to be a photographer. I don't expect to maintain this freedom of work forever.

You're also into some kind of charity work with Mother Teresa's organization in Calcutta, aren't you?
I was there when Mother Teresa was alive and went to all the houses, and then, after that, it was a Spanish foundation that has been created by friends of mine, and I'm the spokesperson.

It's for girls in Calcutta that were living in the streets. They're studying music, and the idea is they become an orchestra that's going to travel around and help the other little girls who will be arriving.

Sounds wonderful. And have you got any other movies coming up besides Vanilla Sky?
A Spanish film called No News from God.

Great title. What's it about?
It's a black comedy, and I play an angel from hell.

Cruise-ing into "Vanilla Sky"

Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz are going to be sharing a lot more than sound-alike last names.

The two sexy stars will be teaming up with a couple of Camerons, Diaz and Crowe, for the romantic thriller Vanilla Sky, according to Daily Variety.

Fresh off his Almost Famous success, Crowe will direct the adaptation of the 1997 Spanish film Albre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), which was written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar and which also starred Cruz.

The original centered around a wealthy womanizer who falls for his best friend's girlfriend. He later winds up in a car with a previous paramour, who--extremely jealous of his affairs--tries to commit suicide by ramming their car into a tree. The bachelor survives the crash, but his face is horribly disfigured.

Eventually, doctors are able to reconstruct his face and his best bud's girl declares her love for him, but soon a series of bizarre incidents beset him.

With the film dependent on several mind-bending twists, both the principals and Paramount Pictures are mum on the exact details of the plot, except to say that the romantic thriller will keep the darkly surreal tone of the original.

Sky also represents a major departure for Cameron Crowe, writer-director of such romantic comedies as Say Anything, Singles and Jerry Maguire, where he first collaborated with Cruise.

The actor, who has been looking for the perfect project to reteam with Crowe on, was apparently the catalyst for the director's latest celluloid experiment. Cruise was reportedly so enamored by the original that he purchased the English remake rights to it in 1998 and enlisted Crowe to adapt it.

Production on Sky is slated for the fall.

Meanwhile, proving that what comes around goes around: Amenabar is currently in Spain directing Cruise's wife, Nicole Kidman, in his English-language debut, the sci-fi horror film The Others.

Penelope Cruz: A Star In Amerca

Penélope Cruz learned a thing or two while filming the upcoming All The Pretty Horses. For starters, she discovered bowling, a favored pastime of the film's director, Billy Bob Thornton. And playing the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher who falls for American drifter Matt Damon, she picked up crucial know-how on avoiding severe butt pain from riding horses bareback for hours on end.
But with the buzz about her performance getting so loud you'd think a train was going by, Cruz is about to learn her biggest lesson yet: how to be a star in America.

Not that the Madrid-born actress is unfamiliar with the spotlight. Ever since her auspicious debut in the sexually charged 1992 Spanish film Jamón, Jamón--in which she bared more than her acting talent--Cruz has been beloved in her native country. She went on to star in the Academy Award-winning Belle Epoque. More recently, she scored a Goya--the Spanish equivalent of an Academy Award--for her portrayal of a cabaret singer forced to entertain the Nazis in 1938 Berlin in The Girl of Your Dreams.

In fact, after performing in more than a dozen films in Europe, Cruz has found herself prey to the paparazzi in a way that would make Sean Penn go for an Uzi.

But she takes it all in stride and seems prepared for stateside success. Having already attracted attention for playing a nun impregnated by a drag queen in Pedro Almodóvar's All About My Mother and in Stephen Frears' Hi-Lo Country, Cruz's career is full-steam ahead. Also up this year is Women on Top, in which she plays a Brazilian woman who travels to San Francisco to pursue her dream of becoming a famous TV chef. And then there's Ted Demme's Blow, the true tale of how cocaine found its way into the United States, in which she plays the wife of real-life dealer George Jung (Johnny Depp).

Lest anyone think success has gone to her pretty head, the young woman who once dreamed of being a dancer is careful to take time between projects to put things in perspective. After filming Horses, the animal lover became a vegetarian, and after spending a week volunteering at Mother Teresa's children's sanctuary in Calcutta, she donated her entire Hi-Lo Country salary to the organization.

Hmmm, maybe we could learn a thing or two from her.


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