Celebrity Portrait

The Spanish Enchantress

Known for her spellbinding performances, Penélope Cruz says she learns more by watching others
by John Lancer

Photograph by Henny Garfunkel/RetnaThe combination of talent and sizzling sexuality, which earned Penélope Cruz a third Oscar nomination for singing and dancing in Nine, has defined her rise to stardom.

The stunning Spanish beauty, who already holds an Academy Award for her seductive and tempestuous performance in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has captivated critics and audiences, not to mention some of Hollywood’s hottest leading men—from Tom Cruise to Matthew McConaughey and now her husband, fellow Oscar winner Javier Bardem.

Ironically, Cruz is the first to admit she has doubts about the hype that surrounds her. “I don’t think I am beautiful,” she says. “I can look good and I can look ugly. What’s funny is that when I was younger I wanted everyone to look at me. Now, I like to watch other people because you can learn a lot of interesting things that way.

“As for acting,” she adds, “every time I walk on a movie set, I feel like it’s my first time and I get the same butterflies in my stomach. For a few days, I think maybe they’ll fire me.”

Cruz reveals that she has plenty of people in her life who help her keep her fame in perspective. “My friends and my family are people who always tell me the truth,” she says. “I have a great relationship with my brother and my sister because we love to joke around. I think laughing is the best medicine. It can help you release whatever you’re holding inside. I am a clown myself. I love to make people laugh.”

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