Penelope Cruz has Oscar gold in her sights

Feb 20, 2009 at 11:33 a.m. ET

Penelope Cruz has made the red-eye flight from her native Spain to Los Angeles to talk about her Oscar nomination for Vicky, Christina Barcelona. "I am so thrilled to be here," Cruz says.

Penelope Cruz sits in Oscar's shadow

In Penelope's presence

Penelope Cruz was in Madrid merely hours before for the Spanish Academy Awards. Cruz wanted to be to support to the film industry that gave her her big break.

"I think you reach a point where you have so much jet lag, it cancels it all out," Cruz says and laughs. "I don't know what city I am in, I just went through hair and makeup and I'm here."

Cruz is standing in the Beverly Hills Hilton auditorium and she is about to have lunch with over 100 of her fellow Oscar nominees. Her role in Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelonaproduced one of her most compelling performances in her esteemed career.

SheKnows is delighted Cruz made the journey and she is clearly as well. Cruz is having a moment few actresses experience in their lifetime. Being nominated is really an honor, despite the cliche. Cruz knows it and that's why it was important to her to leave Spain and her countrymen to land in Hollywood to talk Academy Awards


"I don't want to sound like a typical actress, but I really mean it. I am so grateful for the opportunity of being here for the nomination. I am so happy to be part of a group of people that can work and make a living out of this profession that I have loved so much since I was a little girl," Cruz says.

"It's a big adventure and it was very important to be there last night and I didn't want to miss the Spanish Academy. And I also wanted to be here with you today. I am very happy that I was able to do it."

Is she an early favorite?

"I really don't want to obsess about winning. I want to enjoy every part of this great adventure. Of course, it would make happy any of us to win. I'd be lying. Once you've been nominated, of course it would be so exciting. I never dared to dream about something like this in the place where I grew up."

Penelope's breakthrough American role

Cruz control

In Spain, Cruz had no references to Oscar gold. "People do not make a living out of this kind of work," she admits. "I'm still overwhelmed. You know I've been working since I was 16. All these things are very big surprises. I'm just so grateful."

Cruz was 15 when she beat out 300 other audition candidates to secure a position with the Spain's leading talent agent. Within a year, her face was everywhere in Madrid. She came to international audiences' notice when she made a splash in the Oscar-winning Belle epoque in 1992. That film would earn three Spanish Academy Awards.

It is easy to see her devotion to the Spanish Academy.

Her first big American role was in the comedy Woman on Top in 2000 and since that film, Hollywood has embraced her wholeheartedly with roles in Vanilla Sky opposite then-boyfriend Tom Cruise to Sahara opposite then-boyfriend Matthew McConaughey.

But it is her role in Vicky Christina Barcelona that has endeared her permanently to Academy voters with their awarding her the nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Since Woody Allen has a knack of crafting female roles that win Oscars, Cruz has to feel good about her chances. But, since she is facing off against some of the year's best performances – male or female – she is practicing an acceptance speech just yet.

Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson

Cruz crafts Oscar win?

Allen got Diane Wiest has two Ocars courtesy of Woody wizardry. Could Cruz be Allen's next muse to score an Academy Award on February 22?

Penelope Cruz, an early Oscar favorite

She is not hinting at the designer lucky enough to dress an Oscar nominee on Academy Awards night. Cruz will be on the red carpet dazzling I'm sure with her history of landing on the best dressed lists.

"I haven't thought to much about that yet," Cruz says. "That is something I will work on while I'm here."

Although SheKnows predicted an Oscar for Marissa Tomei, the buzz of late has been for Cruz to in fact take the little gold man. Hint, the momentum has switched to the Spanish enchantress, we have to go with her too at this late date!

If Cruz wins, we have heard her reaction to victory already.

"Woody was just so great to work with and Javier (Bardem – her boyfriend) and Scarlett (Johansson) – I could not have worked with a better group of talents," Cruz says. "I feel truly blessed."

Related topics

Check out my first 99 celebrity interviews
Predicting the 2009 Oscars
Vote for your favorite Oscar nominees
How well do you know Oscar? Take our Oscar quiz