It’s a big birthday for the Leading Lady of Spanish Cinema–as Penelope Cruz turns 40 years old as a lovely Latina who’s scored some international stardom. That’s not as easy as it might seem just looking at Penelope. A lot of hot leading Latina ladies still haven’t been able to get famous outside of their native land. At least Penelope got an early start. She was still a teenage when cast in the worldwide hit films Jamón, Jamón and Belle Epoque. That brought her lots of attention in the ’90s, and then Penelope Cruz went into the new century with an eye on Hollywood.
She got off to a fair start with a great performance in Matt Damon’s underseen cowboy drama All The Pretty Horses. Penelope got to make a stronger impression in 2001′s Blow, where she played a scheming gal who complicated the life of coke dealer Johnny Depp. That same year had her paired with Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky. That was enough of a holy trinity to make sure that Penelope was suddenly on the A-list for major productions.
She still seemed to prefer smaller roles in quirky movies, and Penelope became better known as an actress who appears in fashion magazines than an actress. That didn’t mean that she wasn’t doing great work, and ended up in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barceleona in 2008–where she made out with Scarlett Johansson and met her future husband Javier Bardem.
A splashy role in 2011′s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides also reminded people that Penelope Cruz is a movie star. She’s also looking set to be an ageless beauty. Check out these pics–including some thrilling screen shots–and see why we’re thinking that Penelope has plenty of years left as a sexy screen siren. You’ll also see why we couldn’t narrow it down to just 40 of Penelope’s sexiest pics…