Though she was still reeling from her breakup with rom-com superstar Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz’s career was back on track. The star was cast in Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar ‘s critically acclaimed film “ Volver.”
The dramatic role resulted in universal praise and several acting award nominations including becoming the first Spanish actress to be nominated for an Academy Award (for Best Actress in a lead role). Though she didn’t win the oscar that year, Hollywood took note – Penelope was more than just a pretty face, she was a super talented actress.
An Epic Disaster
For many stars, the idea of starring in a major blockbuster is often too tempting to pass up … even if the script isn’t very good. Still wanting to prove herself to American audiences, Penélope Cruz starred in the action film “Sahara.”
Despite the film's huge budget (estimated to be around $160 million), the film flopped terribly, earning the title of “one of the most famous flops in history.” Not only did the film flop, but Cruz’s performance was panned. One silver lining, however, was that the film introduced her to the film’s star, actor Matthew McConaughey.
A New Love
Though their film “Sahara” was a flop, actors Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz’s relationship was red-hot. Though he admitted that there was a “bit of a language barrier” between him and the Spanish beauty, he called Penelope one of the “best listeners I’ve ever met.”
Beginning in 2005, the two stars were photographed together off and on the red carpet. Sadly, just about a year after meeting on the set of their film, the two parted ways (allegedly when McConaughey locked eyes on his now-current wife, model Camila Alves!).
In 2006, Penélope Cruz got to do what most of us dream of doing - she got the opportunity to work alongside her best friend, award-winning actress Salma Hayek. The two beauties starred in the Western-themed comedy “Bandidas.”
While many thought that the promise of both actresses in tight historical corsets would be enough to gain audiences, the film unfortunately flopped. Though, we wouldn’t complain if we got paid to wear fun costumes and hang out with our best friends!
Officially a Star
Though Penélope Cruz had proven her acting chops in critically-acclaimed films like “Volver”, her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona'' earned her an Academy Award, making her the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar. Playing an over-the-top ex-wife of an artist, Penélope seemed to deliver the greatest performance in the movie - pretty impressive considering she starred alongside talented stars like Scarlett Johansson and future husband Javier Bardem.
The film was also important because it became a meeting place to work with Javier again, the last time since they had starred in “Jamón Jamón”.