Penelope Cruz becomes first Spanish actress to win an Oscar

February 24th, 2009 - 4:15 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Feb 24 (IANS) Penelope Cruz won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, becoming the first Spanish actress to take home an Oscar.
The award, which was first handed out Sunday, was a milestone for both Spanish film and for the actress, who had been nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for her performance in Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s film “Volver”.

“This is not going to be 45 seconds; I can say that right now. Has anybody ever fainted here? Because I might be the first one. Thank you so much to the Academy. I want to share this with my fellow nominees and with the amazing ensemble of actors that I had the privilege to work with in this movie. Thank you, Woody, for trusting me with this beautiful character,” Cruz said in her acceptance speech.

The actress also thanked the directors who gave her roles early in her career, including Bigas Luna, Fernando Trueba and Almodovar, EFE reported.

“I want to dedicate this to my parents and to my brother and sister, to my friend Robert Garlock, who is not with us anymore, and to everyone who has helped me from the beginning and I thank you from my heart,” Cruz said.

The 34-year-old actress recalled how she watched the Academy Awards while growing up and what they meant to her.

“I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream. And I, always on the night of the Academy Awards, stay up to watch the show and I always felt that this was, this ceremony was a moment of unity for the world because art, in any form, is and has been and will always be our universal language and we should do everything we can, to protect its survival,” she said.

The actress then continued her speech in Spanish, thanking all those who were sharing the moment with her and the actors in Spain.

Cruz was competing for the Oscar against Amy Adams and Viola Davis, both nominated for their roles in “Doubt”, as well as Taraji P. Henson for her performance in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and Marisa Tomei for her role in “The Wrestler”.

“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” tells the story of two young American women, Vicky (played by Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who spend a summer in Barcelona, where they become involved with Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a handsome painter who still has a relationship with his temperamental ex-wife, Maria Elena (played by Cruz).

The film was shot in Barcelona and Oviedo, and both Bardem and Cruz, in particular, give excellent bilingual performances.

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