Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in the 2001 films Vanilla Sky, All the Pretty Horses, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Blow.
She has since appeared in films in a range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas film Noel (2004), and the action adventure Sahara (2005).
She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award and the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Cruz has modelled for Mango, Ralph Lauren and L'Oréal, and along with her younger sister Mónica Cruz has designed clothing for Mango.
It was obvious there was something very impressive about this kid.... There was just something coming from within." In 1989, 15-year-old Cruz made her acting debut in a music video for the Spanish pop group Mecano's song "La Fuerza del Destino".
Between 19, she hosted the Spanish TV channel Telecinco's talk show La Quinta Marcha, a programme that was hosted by teenagers, aimed at a teenage audience.
Cruz's final appearance in 1997 was the Amenabar-directed Spanish sci-fi drama, "Abre Los Ojos"/ Open Your Eyes.
In the period drama The Girl of Your Dreams (La niña de tus ojos), Cruz portrayed Macarena Granada, a singer who is in an on-and-off relationship with Antonio Resines's character, Blas.
[...] There's one shot in particular, where Cruz enters a room in a greenish glow, which is right out of Hitchcock's picture [Vertigo]." Kevin Lally of the Film Journal International commented in his review for the film that "in an ironic casting twist, the Spanish actress Penélope Cruz [...] is much more appealing as Josepha [than in her previous roles]".
For her performance in the film, she was nominated for an ALMA Award for Best Actress.
Signed by an agent at the age of 15, she made her acting debut at 16 on television and her feature film debut the following year in Jamón Jamón (1992).
Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000).