France Honors Actress Penelope Cruz

Thursday, January 12th 2006, 9:56 am
By: News On 6

PARIS (AP) _ Penelope Cruz was honored Wednesday by France's culture minister who called her a ``great European actress'' and proclaimed her a knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres praised in particular her international movie career which includes roles in French, English, Italian and her native Spanish.

``It's France's role to be the ardent defender of cultural diversity and to recognize those who extend, with their talent, the culture of their country,'' said the minister. ``I'm happy to have honored this great European actress.''

Cruz, in Paris to promote her new movie, ``Bandidas,'' received the minister's accolades with blushing modesty.

``I'm not sure that I deserve it, but I will do my best so that you won't regret it,'' Cruz said during the ceremony at the Culture Ministry.

The minister cited ``Bandidas'' as an example of Cruz' ability to work with a diverse cast of international talent. The movie, a Western about two female outlaws set in 19th century Mexico, was written and produced by French filmmaker Luc Besson.

The film co-stars Salma Hayek, who was present at the ceremony and gave Cruz a congratulatory hug.

Cruz rocketed to international stardom with the success of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-winning ``All About My Mother.'' Hollywood came courting, giving her starring roles in ``Blow,'' ``All the Pretty Horses,'' ``Vanilla Sky'' and ``Sahara.''

``Volver,'' her most recent collaboration with Almodovar, is expected in movie theaters later this year.