1. Cruz was born as the eldest of three and a natural performer; her father, Eduardo, worked as a car mechanic, and her mother, Encarna, was a hairdresser.
2. Salma Hayek is one of Cruz’s best friends, and Cruz also enjoys visiting fellow Spaniard Antonio Banderas and his wife, Melanie Griffith, when she gets homesick and craves Spanish paella.
3. She studied classical ballet for nine years, and signed with an acting agent when she was 15.
4. She received an array of award nominations for her portrayal of Ralmunda in the 2006 film, Volver.
5. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
6. She appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp in 2011.
7. She dated Tom Cruise, and Matthew Mcconaughey before marrying Javier Bardem in 2010.
8. She has a son named Leo and a daughter named Luna.
9. She played a role in the Spanish film, Open Your Eyes, and starred in its American equivalent, Vanilla Sky.
10. Penelope Cruz Sanchez was born on April 28, 1974, in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain.
11. As a child, Cruz amused her family by re-enacting television commercials.
12. Though a natural actress, she took up dance for her choice of performance arts.
13. She studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain’s National Conservatory, and then moved to New York to dance under a series of prominent performers.
14. When she was 15 years old, Cruz found her true vocation after beating out 300 other girls at a talent agency competition.
15. Following this early success, she landed several roles as a dancer for music videos, as well as a gig hosting Spanish TV’s La Quinta Marcha.
16. Cruz explored her more sensual side in the French erotic TV series Serie Rose.
17. Penelope Cruz made her film debut in 1992, in the dark film Jamón Jamón. The film’s director, who had been unable to cast Cruz as the lead in another film because of her young age, waited until she was old enough for his next film.
18. Her performance earned her nominations for both the Spanish Actors Union Newcomer Award and the Goya Award (Spain’s Academy Award) for best lead actress.
19. A year later, Cruz played Luz in The Age of Beauty (1992).
20. The film won an Oscar (best foreign language film), virtually swept the Goya Awards and earned Cruz the Spanish Actors Union Award for best supporting performance.
21. In 1997, Cruz took the role of Isabel Plaza Caballero in Carne Tremula—marking the first time that she worked with internationally renowned director Pedro Almodóvar, who, in turn, became a lifelong friend, as well as her vehicle for global fame. Cruz garnered further critical recognition for her performance in the film.
22. Two years later, in 1999, Cruz landed a role in another film directed by Almodóvar, Todo Sobre Mi Madre, which went on to win Oscar and a BAFTA (best foreign language film) awards.
23. At the age of 25, Cruz made the bold decision to move to Hollywood, California. Fully in command and on top of her career, she took on the role of a control freak and successful chef in Woman on Top (2000). That same year, she played the romantic lead in Billy Bob Thornton’s Western All the Pretty Horses. Both films garnered critical success.
24. Cruz went on to further prove she could hold her own among heavy-hitting actors in 2001, when she starred opposite Johnny Depp in the film Blow.
25. She also appeared in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; her performance earned her a European Film Award nomination for best actress.
26. In 2005, Cruz appeared in Sahara, a comedic adventure film.
27. Returning to Spanish-language filmes, Cruz appeared in Bandidas (2006) with friend and co-star Salma Hayek.
28. Penelope didn’t find out about her 2010 Oscar nomination until an hour after the announcement because she’d recently changed her phone number and no one could get in touch with her.
29. Cruz has been sawed in half by magicians twice in her life, including once by David Copperfield.
30. Cruz became a vegetarian after shooting “All The Pretty Horses” in 2000.
31. Her parents named her after the song “Penelope” by Joan Manuel Serrat.
32. Cruz did volunteer work in Uganda for two months in 1998, and the following year, she donated her entire salary from “The Hi-Lo Country” to Mother Theresa’s children’s sanctuary in Calcutta.