Penélope Cruz’s 50s: the girl who dreamed of Almodóvar is the woman who today conquers the world

“Everything excites me. The twists and turns that life takes.” One of the most beautiful images Penelope Cruz has left us in recent years – and there are quite a few – is her crying when witnessing her casting for Belle Epoquethe film that catapulted her to success in 92 thanks to Ham Ham. At that time, that 19-year-old girl with tousled hair, brown like her big eyes, already knew her dreams: she wanted to be an actress, and not just any one. From the red sofa in her parents’ house, in the Madrid municipality of Alcobendas, she fell in love with cinema. She was 14 years old and her hobby was “watching movies.” “I rented them at the video store and, if I liked one, I could watch it up to 10 or 15 times and I would learn the dialogues,” she said. She thus discovered the work of Pedro Almodovar, his now intimate and teacher. And so he projected a future that he ended up making his own, because this Sunday, April 28, Our most international actress turns 50, a living example of talent and a source of pride, because she is already historic.

Daughter of Eduardo Cruz, a merchant from Extremadura who worked in a car dealership, and María de la Encarnación Sánchez, who ran a hair salon, she was always listened to by her family. “When I insisted at home about what I wanted to do, at least they didn’t laugh at me. And that was already a lot!” (…) My parents were very realistic and always told me ‘try if you want, even though it’s very difficult, but have a plan B, keep studying’. And it seemed logical to me. “Then, in adolescence, there came a time when I had to choose,” the actress told the magazine. Elle.

She first trained in classical ballet at the National Conservatory of Madrid and then studied Interpretation. It came back to his head again and again Adamthe Almodóvar film that fueled his ambition: I wanted to be on par with directors like him or Fernando Trueba, to be part of their world. However, his first steps were not taken on the big screen. His first audiovisual project was in 1988, in the video clip for The force of Destinya song by Mecano after which she later began a courtship with Nacho Cano that lasted a whopping six years.

That paved the way for him to make his first steps on television, participating in the program The worlds of yupi and later presenting The fifth gear, along with Jesús Vázquez. Then Rafael Alcázar signed her for The Greek labyrinth, a film in which she debuted as an actress, and which was joined by other projects that put her, little by little, in the spotlight. It was in 1996, with The Celestina y Love seriously harms health, when he established himself in Spanish cinema; and in ’98, with the girl of my eyes, was already one of our fashion artists. But that was only the beginning for her: her jump to Hollywood came in 2000, with Everything about my mother, Almodóvar’s film that received the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. In 2008, it was his turn to pick it up for her role in Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, becoming the first Spanish actress to win the award for Best Leading Actress. She could not believe it. “I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream” “I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream,” he said.

Since then, Penélope has worked in more than 60 films, has been nominated for an Oscar four times and has won three Goya awards. -she has been among the nominees up to 14 times-. She has become, without a doubt, an actress of another level. And, although she is a more than recognizable face in Hollywood, she does not give it much importance. She has worked with Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson and Johnny Depp. She has dated Tom Cruise. She has styled Salma Hayek’s hair by candlelight when her friend’s power went out at her house. She married Javier Bardem on Johnny Depp’s millionaire private island, but that doesn’t matter to her, because she finds success in the small things of everyday life. She protects everyday life. She wants to feel like any other mortal: “I don’t deprive myself of doing anything, going to the supermarket, going to my children’s classes, going on excursions… Those things that make you feel like you can have a more or less normal life.”

“Looking back to see what I’ve done or how many awards I’ve won or how much it doesn’t give me the injection to be happy or to continue growing. What gives me it is when I read a book that I fall in love with or am passionate about, or a movie that I love and be able to watch it three times in a row. Or meet people who are obsessed with something like you, as happened to me with the series Succession…Actually, with anything that has to do with art. What I like is to talk and talk about it and break it down. That’s what I enjoy the most. Being searching and investigating, in life and in fiction,” explained Penelope.

His professional and personal life are crossed by a curious and worldly gaze. She always looks for empathy. And perhaps that is why her characters are so close to us, regardless of their nature. She handles the script and studies them with compassion to then give life to women like Raimunda. (Return) or Laura Dominica Garello (Ferrari). Many of these protagonists are vulnerable and tragic – some will call them hysterical or, failing that, crazy. But Penelope understands that they come from “dark places” and handles them from there, defending their conflicts until the end.

This is what he did, in fact, by putting himself in the shoes of the complex Maria Elena in Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, a film on the set of which, by the way, she fell in love with Javier Bardem. They both met in Ham Ham, when he was 24 and she was 17, and, although the actor was already curious about his partner at that time, he did not confess his feelings to her until filming had finished. The actor recalled in 2023, during a nice interview, the naturalness with which they began dating 16 years ago. “I thought: ‘Oh, I haven’t told her anything,’ and on the last day of filming I told her: ‘Hey, by the way, I like you,’ and she thought: ‘It’s about time!’ something everyone was waiting for.”, he said, laughing. And since then they have remained together, carrying out their marriage – which was formalized in 2010, in a private ceremony on Depp Island, in the Bahamas – in the strictest discretion. They are parents of two children, Leo, 14, and Luna, 10, but they never talk about them. That’s how they agreed. It is their “sacred rule”: “Since they were born we do everything possible to be fully present in their upbringing. It is the most important thing for us. Hills. “My absolute priority.”

Penélope is now focusing on directing her first documentary, of which he did not want to reveal details. It is only known that it was Almodóvar who encouraged her to do so. And I had to pay attention to him. They have worked together on seven films and form a unique tandem in the history of our cinema, as well as in the defense of the rights of audiovisuals and society in general – dedicated to various social causes, they get wet when talking about controversial topics or about the struggles of unprotected groups. “Thank you for trusting me. For inspiring me in the search for truth on and off the set. For your impeccable ethical work, very difficult to find in these crazy days,” the artist expressed during her speech at the Venice Film Festival, where He won the Volpi Cup, a recognition that is added to, among others, the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts (2018), the Donosti Prize (2019) and the National Photography Prize (2022).

Beyond her talent, Penelope is also an icon of elegance in her ways and her work: she has been considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the film scene for decades, and has been the image of brands such as Mango – for which she was the image with his sister, Mónica Cruz-, Tresor, Lancôme, Loewe, Versace or Chanel. With the Parisian house, she presented the fall-winter 2024 season in March. She did it in style by presenting the short film in which she starred with Brad Pitt in the French city’s ready-to-wear fashion show as a fashion film. It was a tribute to a classic film by Claude Lelouch, A Man and a Woman. With this proposal Penelope was back in the public eye, and always for the better. At 50, she watches the time go by and keeps her glow. She is grateful for her past and looks to the future with serenity and good spirits, because in this matter of living, for her, there is a trick: the important thing is to take care of the present. “The only thing I am clear about now is that it is here. And what happened before has formed you, it has helped you answer questions, but others are still there, in the air.” She keeps answering them, Pe.