Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974- ) is a Spanish actress and model. 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 the 2001 films Vanilla Sky, All the Pretty Horses, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Blow.
She has since appeared in films in a range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas movie Noel (2004), and the action adventure Sahara (2005). She was critically acclaimed for her roles in Volver (2006) and Nine (2009) received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for each. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for playing María Elena in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. 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 Mango, Ralph Lauren and L'Oréal. Penélope and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed clothing for Mango. Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working with Mother Teresa; she donated her salary from The Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun's mission.
Cruz has donated money and time to charity. In addition to work in Nepal, she has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent a week working with Mother Teresa that included assisting in a leprosy clinic. That trip inspired Cruz to help start a foundation to support homeless girls in India, where she sponsors two young women. She donated her salary from her first Hollywood movie, The Hi-Lo Country, to Mother Teresa's mission. In the early 2000s, she spent time in Nepal photographing Tibetan children for an exhibition attended by the Dalai Lama. She also photographed residents at the Pacific Lodge Boys' Home, most of whom are former gang members and recovering substance abusers. She said: "These kids break my heart. I have to control myself not to cry. Not out of pity, but seeing how tricky life is and how hard it is to make the right choices." A pregnant Cruz showed her support for the battle against AIDS by lighting up the Empire State Building with red lights in New York City December 1, 2010 on International AIDS Day, as part of (RED)'s new awareness campaign, 'An AIDS Free Generation is Due in 2015,' which aims to eradicate the HIV virus from pregnant mothers to their babies. In 2012, she posed for an ad supporting PETA's anti-fur campaign.
Cruz is a friend of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, whom she has known for more than two decades and with whom she has worked on films. Cruz is known to friends as Pe. Cruz owns a clothing store in Madrid and designed jewelry and handbags with her younger sister for a company in Japan.
Cruz had a three-year relationship with Tom Cruise after they appeared together in Vanilla Sky. It ended in January 2004. In April 2003, she filed a lawsuit against the Australian magazine New Idea for defamation over an article about her relationship with Cruise. Her lawyers claimed that "the proceedings state that the article contains a number of false and defamatory statements concerning Ms. Cruz" and she is seeking "substantial damages and is confident that legal proceedings will vindicate her reputation".
In April 2007, Cruz told the Spanish edition of Marie Claire that she would like to adopt children.
In 2007, Cruz began dating Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who was her co-star in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. They married in early July 2010 in a private ceremony at a friend's home in the Bahamas. They have a son, Leonardo (born January 22, 2011 in Los Angeles) and a daughter, Luna (born July 22, 2013 in Madrid). She has become a public advocate of breastfeeding since the birth of her children.