Esquire magazine has chosen 40-year-old Penelope Cruz as this year’s sexiest woman alive. She is the 10th woman to receive the title from the magazine in the 11 years that they have been running the feature. Last year’s winner, Scarlett Johansson, actually was given the title twice, winning it in 2006 as well as last year. Among the other past winners are such international stars as Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie, who was made an honorary Dame by Queen Elizabeth last Friday. Unlike Jolie, Cruz lives a very private life away from the cameras.
Cruz has been married to actor Javier Bardem for four years, and is the mother of two children, Leo and Luna, ages 3 and 14 months respectively. She is very protective of her family life, and avoids making any comment in the media about them, always deflecting requests respectfully but firmly. The only recent exception to that policy is with regard to answering questions about a recent group letter signed by both herself and her husband condemning in strong language the bombing of Gaza by Israel. She has received some significant criticism for that stance in the media and from other actors who have made public statements. When asked about that in an interview, she did clarify her intent when signing the letter, saying that all she wanted was for there to be peace in the region.
The sexiest woman alive is well known for her roles in movies directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Many of the roles she played in those films were dark and emotionally complicated characters, and her ability to demonstrate such a range of complicated emotions and motivations is one of the things that has propelled her to super-stardom. She has proven that she has the chops to be more than just a pretty face and body. She backs that up with her fierce intelligence. She has a dedication to continuing learning, and she speaks at least four languages.
She recounts in her Esquire interview that she was attracted to drama in her earlier years, feeling the need as an artist to explore those dark places. She said although she no longer was interested in the drama, that Almodóvar continued to be a huge source of inspiration in her work. Without elaborating, however, she asserts that her focus has shifted squarely toward her children and family since becoming a mother.
Cruz is still working, though, and will appear in Ma Ma, a Spanish language film, as well as preparing to film a movie with Sacha Baron Cohen titled Grimsby. She declined to offer any information in the interview about either project.
The Esquire “Sexiest Woman Alive” spread shows Cruz in a Black swimsuit which features heavily her prodigious cleavage, and her trademark pouty face. Even in still shots, she demonstrates an incredible range of emotions and feelings. Her interviewer commented that even over the course of a conversation, she was capable of becoming several different people just with a shift in position or a change of expression. The magazine made it official, but for many of her fans she has long been one of the sexiest women alive. In fact, with her ability to completely re-invent herself visually and emotionally, she is actually several of them.
By Jim Malone