Jamn Jamn (1992)
The Role: In her first feature film, Cruz plays Silvia, daughter of a prostitute in rural Spain.
Cruz was only eighteen when the film was made, which was mightily brave of her, considering all the naughty sex scenes.
The Movie: Bigas Luna’s Jamón, Jamón ( Ham, Ham ) explored the themes of love, lust, violence and ham.
The title might be a reference to Silvia’s breasts – according to José (Silvia’s lover), they taste like ham.
We think that Luna may have liked ham.
Abre Los Ojos (1997)
The Role: This was the first time Cruz was to play the character of Sofía, but it wouldn’t be the last…
The Movie: Guy meets girl. Guy falls in love with girl. Crazy ex crashes car. Guy is disfigured.
He enters a waking dream, where his face is repaired and he gets the girl again.
Things start going weird. Guy confuses girl with dead ex and, mistakenly, kills her.
Sounds familiar? It's Vanilla Sky ! In Spanish! (Don't worry, it's not just a spooky coincidence, Vanilla Sky was a remake of this.)
All About My Mother (1999)
The Role: Rosa is a young nun. Who’s pregnant. With a baby she conceived with a transvestite. Who has AIDS. Who gives the AIDS to Rosa. Who dies of AIDS.
The Movie: Almodóvar's All About My Mother touches on some delicate subject matter.
Thankfully, the film avoids being horrifically depressing due to some fantastic character performances.
Although Rosa has been described as against type for Cruz, Almodóvar insists that “the nun is a lot closer to her character, because she's a very nice girl.” Shucks.
The Role: This one's not such a nice girl. Cruz dons garish eyeshadow and shoulder pads, and plays Mirtha, wife of a cocaine smuggler.
Mirtha’s not a very likeable character – she’s a compulsive spender and addict who gets her husband arrested.
The Movie: A biopic on the life of George Jung (played by Johnny Depp), Blow is a fascinating exhibition of atrocious outfits.
Check out the shell-suits in the closing scenes.
When director Ted Demme died suddenly, less than a year after Blow ’s release, coroners found traces of cocaine in his system.
Captain Corellis Mandolin (2001)
The Role: Pelagia is a spirited and intelligent young villager on a small Greek island.
The Film: Based on the Louis de Bernières’ novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a love story, set against the backdrop of the German-Italian invasion of Greece.
Cruz (whose character is Greek in this one) has claimed that she feels like an Italian woman trapped in a Spanish woman’s body.
That sounds traumatic. Perhaps there’s a support group she could go to.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
The Role: Sofía, again. Jeez.
The Film: We're unclear about whether or not it was entirely necessary to remake Abre Los Ojos .
Vanilla Sky was a good film - but it appears that the main function it played was that of an overblown vanity vehicle, ferrying Tom Cruise into another money mountain.
After making Vanilla Sky , Cruz and Cruise set sail on a romantic... relationship.
Oh, Penélope. What hast thou dunst?
The Role: Cruz is Chloe, a patient at a mental hospital, who claims that she’s being raped.
Her stories are dismissed as the babbles of a hysterical madwoman.
They’re actually true stories. Babbled by a hysterical madwoman.
The Movie: Gothika is the story of a psychiatrist who wakes up one day as a patient at her own hospital.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s not.
Robert Downy Jr. broke Halle Berry’s arm on set. You show her who’s boss, Robert!
The Role: Eva Rojas is a doctor working for the WHO (no, not the band).
She’s been sent out to the Sahara to investigate a mysterious epidemic.
The Film: Sahara was a monumentally expensive venture which experienced catastrophic losses on its release.
This was due less to unpopularity at the box office, more to the huge costs involved in its production and distribution.
Hugh Jackman was all set to star in the lead role, but after too much dithering, Matthew McConaughey was cast instead.
The Role: In her first film with best friend Salma Hayek, Cruz plays María, a Mexican farm girl who becomes a bank robber.
She smoulders in corsets, chaps and plaits.
The Film: María and Sara (Hayek) steal from the rich and give to the poor; the poor Mexicans whose land has been taken away from them.
Written by Luc Besson ( Léon , Fifth Element ), it's a lightweight action-comedy.
Bandidas was unoffensively entertaining, and received lukewarm reviews.
The Role: As Raimunda: mother, daughter, sister and wife, Cruz’s role was a complex one.
Director Almodóvar put her in a prosthetic bum for the role, claiming that a character such as Raimunda should have a big arse, and that Cruz was too slim.
The Film: A gripping tale of death and motherhood, Volver received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.
It also scooped a huge number of awards, and got Penélope Cruz an Academy Award nod.
Bizarrely, the six female stars of the film shared the award for Best Actress at Cannes.
The Good Night (2007)
The Role: Cruz plays two separate characters.
First of all, there's Anna, an idyllic siren who appears to Martin Freeman’s Gary in a series of dreams.
Then there's Melodia, Anna’s real-life alter-ego, who doesn’t live up to Gary’s expectations.
The Film: Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth’s brother)’s debut feature film highlights the sense of dissatisfaction engendered by modern culture.
The end product proved rather disappointing – even a cameo from Jarvis Cocker wasn’t enough to tip the scales.
The Role: Cruz’s Consuela Castillo is a bright, charismatic student who catches the eye of David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley).
The Film: Set in New York, Isabel Coixet’s drama is an elegy to missed opportunities and lost love.
The relationship fails when David doesn’t turn up for Consuela’s graduation party.
Years later, he discovers that she has cancer.
Look out for Dennis Hopper's remarkable (and unexpected) performance as a poet. That's right. A poet.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
The Role: Cruz is Maria Elena, the crazy ex-wife of an artist, Juan (Javier Bardem).
She is wild and unstable, with matted hair, a face caked in make-up and a fag in her mouth.
The Film: Vicky Cristina Barcelona was celebrated as Woody Allen's best film in years.
Cruz won Best Supporting Actress from a myriad of different film organisations.
Thanks to VCB , Cruz found love with co-star Javier Bardem, with whom she worked all those years before in Jamón, Jamón . Innit lovely.