If you were asked to name Spain’s top celebrities who would they be? Perhaps a few well-known footballers, such as Andrés Iniesta, Fernando Torres, David Silva, David Silva – the list goes on and on. Or perhaps it would be tennis superstar and recent US Open winner Rafa Nadal? But when it comes to truly international celebrities who are also household names in the Americas (and Spanish stars are almost always just as well known in South America) three names really stand out from the crowd.
Firstly, we have Antonio Banderas, who is surely one of Spain’s most famous faces. In fact, Banderas himself set out to be a footballer and was progressing well until he broke his foot at age 14. Of course, the rest is history; he is now an international star who is probably best-known for his role as “Zorro” in the film series of the same name.
Perhaps even more famous than her countryman is Penélope Cruz Sánchez. Cruz was born in Madrid to Eduardo (a shopkeeper) and Encarna (her hairdresser mother) and was reportedly trying to act when she had just learned to walk. Since then, her list of film credits is as long as your arm – but includes classics such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “On Stranger Tides”.
Both these celebrities were and are pin-ups; known as much for their good looks as their acting ability. But the third person on our list is a little different. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that Spanish actor Javier Bardem, star of “No Country for Old Men” is better known for his slightly weird looks (though when in “civvies” he’s a good-looking “normal” guy).
Bardem is the youngest member of an acting family that has been making for generations in his native Spain. He followed in his family’s footsteps aged just six, when he appeared in “El picaro” (“The Scoundrel”) back in 1974 – his first feature film.
So these are probably the best three known Spanish faces around the globe – certainly outside sport.
Of course, equally famous is “El Gordo” – the big one; Spain’s enormous lottery which is the biggest Christmas lotto draw in Europe each year. The prizes are truly enormous running to £2 billion – with an unparalleled 15% chance of drawing a winning ticket.