Although Spain is often thought of as the land of bullfighting, paella and "Las Ramblas," in past decades the Mediterranean nation has had a strong presence in Hollywood and the cinematic world due to the influx of Spanish stars on film. From Seville and Toledo to Madrid and Barcelona, some of Spain's most well-known contemporary imports include Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem, Maribel Verdu and Marisa Paredes.
Penelope Cruz is a sultry, dark-eyed Madrid-bred actress who first broke out on the international movie scene with 1992's "Jamon, Jamon." Apart from briefly being a tabloid sensation due to her whirlwind romance with megastar Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz has also made a splash in movies such as "All About My Mother," "Vanilla Sky," "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and "Belle Epoque."
Antonio Banderas is an Andalusian actor who first achieved success in the early 1980s Spanish cinema, and went on to make a big impression in American film in the middle of the 1990s. The charming actor (who is married with children to actress Melanie Griffith) is known for a wide array of films in many different genres, such as "The Mask of Zorro," "The House of the Spirits," "Interview With the Vampire," "Desperado" and "Spy Kids."
Javier Bardem is a Canary Islands-born, award-winning actor who has received critical acclaim both in Spain and abroad, with several Goya awards and an Oscar under his belt, among others. The actor, who is married to the aforementioned Penelope Cruz, has appeared in films like "No Country For Old Men," "Eat Pray Love," "Biutiful" and "Live Flesh."
Maribel Verdu is a raven-haired Madrid-born star who, although a massive star in her native Spain, is also a familiar face to international audiences due to her turns in movies including "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Y tu mama tambien." To Spanish audiences, Maribel Verdu made an impression in movies such as "Belle Epoque," "La Zona" and "Tetro."
Marisa Paredes is a blonde Madrid native and seasoned actress of Spanish cinema, starting from the early 1960s. The veteran actress has appeared in dozens of Spanish and European productions throughout the decades, the most notable including "All About My Mother," the Academy Award winning "Life is Beautiful," "The Flower of My Secret," "High Heels" and "The Devil's Backbone."