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Penelope Cruz Biography

Penelope Cruz Sanchez was born in Madrid, Spain, on the 28th of April, 1974. Raised in Madrid along with her brother, Eduardo, and sister, Monica, Penelope was always fond of the arts, particularly ballet and jazz. Her passion for dance led to her decision to not graduate from high school, and instead, to focus her time and energy on the graceful art of dance.

Pe, as she is nicknamed, may not have her high school diploma, but she does have four years of theatre training from Cristina Rota's school in New York. After having studied drama, and with 10 years of classical ballet training and 3 years of Spanish ballet training, Penelope was ready to take her performing skills to the camera.

Her big break came at the age of 17, when she was cast in Jamon, Jamon (Ham, Ham in English) and Belle Epoque. Set in pre-Franco Spain, Penelope portrayed one of four daughters of a wealthy man. Thanks to Belle Epoque's huge success--it garnered nine Goya Awards (Spanish Oscars) and the Oscar for Best Foreign Film--Penelope's star power was spreading worldwide.

After starring in several Spanish films such as La Celestina and Alegre ma non troppo, Penelope had a role in the film Abre Los Ojos. The film made it to the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and that same year, she appeared in Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar's Carne Tremula (Live Flesh). Although she did not appear on the screen for long, she made a lasting impression as a pregnant woman.

And finally, North America was acquainted with the Spanish star after her role in the English film, The Hi-Lo Country, in 1998. If English audiences didn't catch Penelope in The Hi-Lo Country, they had another opportunity to catch her as a barmaid in the Spanish-British film, Twice Upon A Yesterday.

In 1999, Penelope was cast once again in an Almodóvar film, this time the critically acclaimed Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother). Premiering at Cannes, the film ushered rave reviews and took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

No stranger to awards ceremonies, Penelope wowed the audience at this year's Oscar Awards; if they didn't know who she was until then, they were sure to ask about her now.

Extremely active in social causes, Penelope donated all her earnings from The Hi-Lo Country to Mother Teresa's charity.

Most recently, audiences enjoyed Penelope in the films Woman on Top, Blow,with Johnny Depp, All The Pretty Horses, co-starring Matt Damon (she became a vegetarian for a time after filming this movie,) Captain Corelli's Mandolin, with Nicolas Cage, and Vanilla Sky, with Tom Cruise, with whom she was linked romantically.

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Penelope Cruz Pictures

"After Blow, I was always speaking very bad words and giving people the finger all the time. I have to say "f***" a hundred times in every sentence. When you are like this for four months, and all the time I was listening to such language, you feel like saying: "F*** you all." It was like a liberation to play that character, though. The scenes were difficult, and I had not to be self-conscious."

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