Date of Birth: April 28, 1974
Place of Birth: Madrid, Spain
Sign: Sun in Taurus, Moon in Cancer
Relations: Father: Eduardo (auto mechanic); mother: Encarna (hairdresser, manager); sister: Mónica (flamenco dancer); brother: Eduardo (soccer player)
Education: National Conservatory, Madrid, Spain; majored in classical ballet
Although Cruz’s talent has long been recognized in her hometown of Spain since the early '90s, the fetching actress has in recent years started to make a splash on this side of the world through minimal screen time and maximum exposure, including a spot among People magazine's 50 most beautiful people of 2000. "She can actually stop traffic," claims producer Alan Poul. "When you see her in motion, you can't help but stare."
American audiences have twice as many opportunities to stare at the French-fry-loving vegetarian in 2000. Cruz carries Woman on Top, a sexy romance about a blessed chef whose constant motion sickness is compensated by divine culinary skills and, ultimately, true love. She then stars opposite Matt Damon in Billy Bob Thornton’s All the Pretty Horses. In the movie, displaced Texan John Grady Cole, played by Damon, hooks up with Alejandra, Cruz, the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher. Off-screen, the comely co-stars have been rumored to have started a romance that tongue-waggers have blamed for the breakup of Damon and former live-in love Winona Ryder. While the Pretty co-stars have remained coy about the true nature of their relationship, Cruz recently admitted to TV Guide, "We've become very close."
As a child growing up in Madrid, Spain, Cruz didn't want a pretty pony or a pretty stud; instead, she dreamed of swans and nutcrackers and handsome princes. The eldest daughter of an auto mechanic and a hairdresser, she studied classical ballet at the National Conservatory for nine years. Additionally, she spent four years under the tutelage of Cristina Rota and three years learning Spanish ballet from Ángela Garrido, and honed her jazz dancing skills with Raúl Caballero.
As a teenager, Cruz's beauty and dancing prowess garnered her appearances on a myriad of Spanish television shows and in a video for the pop band Mecano, which featured her then-boyfriend Nacho Cano. She completed two years of secondary school before sidelining academics and dancing for acting.
From her 1991 debut in El Laberinto Griego (Greek Labyrinth), Cruz worked steadily in Spanish cinema for the next seven years. Notably, she portrayed one of four sisters who force a Spanish Civil War defector to answer the age-old question "Have you ever had to make up your mind?" in Belle Époque, which won a 1994 foreign film Oscar.
Cruz also made a brief and forgettable jaunt to American shores, accepting a role in a 1993 telepic, Framed, featuring Timothy Dalton. Mercifully, she went back to Europe and eventually hooked up with rising lensman Almodóvar, who cast her as what she deemed "the ugly woman" in Live Flesh, and then the pair re-teamed a second time for the much-touted Mother (1999), in which Cruz depicted a nun impregnated by a transvestite.
A year earlier, Cruz managed two personal victories sans Almodóvar. She filmed La Niña de Tus Ojos (The Girl of Your Dreams), a role that would earn her a 1999 Best Actress Goya. She then appeared in a Hollywood feature, The Hi-Lo Country, opposite Woody Harrelson and Bylly Crudup. Like any starlet, Cruz ran right out and completely disposed of her first official Tinseltown paycheck. Unlike any starlet, she donated those earnings to Mother Theresa's children's sanctuary in Calcutta, India, where she had briefly volunteered.
As apparent as her inner beauty may be, it was Cruz's undeniable physical beauty that secured her next upcoming major motion picture outing, as Johnny Depp’s drug-addicted wife, in Blow (2001). "She was not right at all for the part," director Ted Demme commented to People, "but it was just because of her absolute beauty that I hired her."
Be it that Cruz and a part are simpatico or that Cruz herself is simpatico, the brunette is hardly sitting around waiting for offers to pour in. She's spent the beginning of the new millennium in Greece as Nicolas Cage and Christian Bale vie for her affections in Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Meanwhile, her name has been paired with the other world-famous.
2001 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
2000 All the Pretty Horses
2000 Woman on Top
1999 All About My Mother
1998 The Hi-Lo Country
1998 The Girl of Your Dreams
1998 Twice Upon a Yesterday
1998 Don Juan
1998 Nada en la Nevera
1997 Open Your Eyes
1997 Live Flesh
1997 A Corner of Paradise
1996 Not Love Just Frenxy
1996 La Celestina
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)