The Truth About Penelope Cruz And Javier Bardem's Marriage

When it comes to Hollywood power couples, they don't get much more talented or glamorous than Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. The pair both have best supporting actor Academy Awards to their famous names — the former for her turn as Maria Elena in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and the latter for his menacing performance as Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men." And their good looks see them regularly appear at the top of those sexiest people in the world polls that spark mass debate each year.

However, unlike many of their fellow A-listers, Cruz and Bardem appear to prefer to keep their love life on the down low. You're unlikely to see them inviting the E! cameras into their home for a fly-on-the-wall reality TV show any time soon, that's for sure.

But from wedding ceremonies and work/life balances to pay equality and political controversies, here's a look at what we do know about their seemingly perfect marriage.

They met 15 years before getting together

Javier Bardem told British GQ that he and Penélope Cruz had "obvious chemistry" when they co-starred in Bigas Luna's 1992 tragicomedy "Jamón Jamón." Their roles required the pair to shoot some pretty steamy scenes together, but it would be another 15 years before they acted on this spark in real life.

Bardem noted that Cruz "was underage" at the time and said "nothing happened" between them. However, in a 2021 interview with The Guardian, he did admit that they both developed feelings for each other. "She was 16, I was 21, like, bags of hormones! It was the first time we went away to make a film, it was her first film. Life itself was opening in front of us. Then we went different routes and she did amazing things. So I guess those feelings were kept in a box until they were open." 

It wasn't until they shared equal billing in Woody Allen's 2008 rom-com "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" that the actors finally realized they were made for each other. Even then, they were reticent to make their relationship public. In an interview with Marie Claire writer Gaby Wood to promote the film, Cruz insisted that she and Bardem were nothing more than close friends.

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem waited three years before going public

Javier Bardem told British GQ that he and Penélope Cruz didn't actually start dating while they were working on "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." "It got to the very last day of filming and nothing had happened. So I thought, 'F***! We better get drunk!'" he recalled. "Luckily a friend of ours threw a wrap party and, well, the rest is history." However, the couple kept the tabloids and the general public guessing when gossip about their on-screen relationship spilling into real life first emerged. In fact, it would be three years after shooting on the Woody Allen film wrapped that the Spaniards finally confirmed that they were indeed an item. And they did it in style, too.

Yes, in 2010, Cruz and Bardem made their first red carpet appearance together at their homeland's answer to the Oscars, the Goya Awards, per Hello!. And then shortly after, the latter made things even more official with a rare display of public affection at the Cannes Film Festival.

Bardem had taken to the stage to accept the best actor award for his leading performance in "Biutiful." But he was more focused on thanking the woman in his life than anyone involved in the psychological drama. "I share this joy with my friend, my companion, my love: Penélope," he told the audience, which included a visibly emotional Cruz. "I owe you a lot and I love you so much."

They got married in secret

Unsurprisingly for a couple who took three years to confirm that they were in a relationship with each other, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem decided to get married away from the glare of the paparazzi. In fact, news of their nuptials only emerged via a spokesperson after the big day, per The Guardian

The Spaniards tied the knot at an intimate ceremony — only close family members were invited — staged at a friend's home in the Bahamas. Details about the gathering remain scarce, although we do know that Cruz walked down the aisle in a dress made by legendary fashion designer John Galliano.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" star, who'd previously dated several other actors before getting together with Bardem, including Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and Josh Hartnett, had once told Psychologies Magazine that she remained unsure about her belief in the concept of marriage.

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem support each other during awards season

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem have experienced the chaos of awards season on many occasions. They both know what it's like to make an acceptance speech at the Oscars, BAFTAs, and Cannes Film Festival, for example. And if they happen to have a trophy cabinet at their luxury home, then you'll also find various Golden Globes, Goya Awards, and Critics Choice accolades on display.

While the pair are no doubt honored to have been recognized so often by their peers, they also appear to realize how ridiculous this part of the movie industry is. While promoting the Lucille Ball biopic "Being the Ricardos" in 2021, Bardem revealed that he and his wife are very much on the same page when it comes to campaigning.

The Spaniard told ET, "I'm very proud of her. She did amazing in "Parallel Mothers," Pedro Almodóvar's movie, and of course it helps to be like, to tease with each other, like, 'What's going on with you? What's going on on your side?' But at the same time, we know how to take all of this. We know that we have to take it with distance. Because otherwise it's too crazy."

They're able to separate their home and work lives

In 2017, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem once again worked with each other on the big screen in "Loving Pablo," the story of drug lord Pablo Escobar's tempestuous affair with TV presenter Virginia Vallejo in the mid-1980s. Luckily, both parties were able to leave their troubled characters on set whenever they finished shooting for the day.

Indeed, don't expect to read a Jeremy Strong-esque profile on the Spaniards any time soon. Bardem admitted to ET that he always tries to set boundaries between his personal and professional life: "The important thing is to know that there's a division, clear division, between fiction and reality. In other words, we know that what is going on there is all fiction-related ... There is nothing there that has anything to do with who we are as real people."

In the same interview, co-star and wife Cruz confirmed that she, too, is able to separate real life and make-believe. However, the actor did admit there was one particular moment from the film that she found harder than usual to shake off. "The most difficult scene for me was the cathedral [scene] when she goes to his private jail to ask for money so she can escape, so she can go to Europe, and he treats her in a horrible, cruel way," she said. "I was always worried about that scene. I knew it was going to affect me a lot ... And it did."

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem want to keep their kids out of the spotlight

It seems unlikely that Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem will be challenging Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith for the title of pushiest stage parents any time soon. The couple is famously quiet about their own relationship, but they're even quieter about the two children they share together, son Leo and daughter Luna.

When the subject came up during a 2019 chat with Marie Claire, Cruz quickly pointed out that her offspring are strictly off-limits: "The thing is, I never speak about the children in interviews. I don't care if people think I'm strange; that's sacred for me." The "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" star did, however, feel a little more comfortable talking about the subject of motherhood in general. "It's the thing that has made me happiest," she said. "But there are a lot of things that have surprised me about it. It's like a revolution inside you — a very animal-like one. The whole world looks different. You'll never think of yourself first again, and I think that's a very good thing. It happens in a second." 

Cruz had previously explained in an interview with Vogue why she wanted to remain tight-lipped about her home life, saying, "I want my [kids] to grow up in a way that is as anonymous as possible. The fact that [their] father and I have chosen to do the work that we do doesn't give anybody the right to invade our privacy."

They don't want to work together too often

Scan both Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem's IMDb pages and you'll notice several of the same films. The pair first met while shooting the former's acting debut, "Jamón Jamón," in 1992. Bardem would later make cameos in several of his future wife's films throughout the following decade — 1996's "El amor perjudica seriamente la salud" ("Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health") and 2001's "Sin noticias de Dios" ("No News from God"), for example.

The Spaniards then got together on the set of 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and appeared on screen together for the first time as a married couple in the 2017 biopic "Loving Pablo." And we've not even mentioned "Live Flesh," "Not Love, Just Frenzy," "Everybody Knows" and "The Counselor." However, Cruz insisted to Marie Claire in 2019 that she and her husband do try to limit the amount of time they spend at work with each other: "In fact, it's not something we want to do that often, partly out of a desire to protect what we have."

"On the one hand, it's easier because you know that person, he knows you, and the way you work is very similar," Cruz added. "On the other hand, the idea of it happening every year is kind of scary. You never know if that might mix things up too much. My instinct is that it would. I think it's better for it to just be once in a while, even though they've been very good experiences."

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem aren't afraid to get political

In 2014, both Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem joined several other film professionals in signing an open letter condemning the bombing of Gaza by Israeli military forces. The letter, entitled "Comunicado de la Cultura Contra el Genocidio Palestino," noted the "physical, moral and psychological" effects of such action on Palestinian civilians and described it as tantamount to genocide, per a Europa Press article translated using Google Translate. 

The couple suffered a backlash from certain execs in Tinseltown, with some who wished to remain anonymous telling The Hollywood Reporter that they were now unsure about whether to ever work with the Spaniards in the future. In what could be seen as a spot of damage limitation, both Cruz and Bardem issued their own personal statements to clarify their positions on the matter.

The former wrote (via The Hollywood Reporter), "My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease-fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border." These sentiments were echoed by her husband, who stated (via The Guardian), " have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war."

They put their family first

Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz appear to have their priorities straight when it comes to balancing a Hollywood career with their parental commitments. While promoting his performance as Desi Arnaz in 2021 drama "Being the Ricardos," the former told E!, "When you have a family, you have to be more alert of making sure that there's time for the family — which is, by far, what is most important."

And that's not just all talk, either. That same year, Diane Kruger gushed about the pair during a speech at the Tribute to Penélope Cruz event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "Javier and her, they're just this amazing couple who put their family first, and so they go together as a unit," she told the audience (via People).

Kruger had worked with Cruz on the action movie "The 355" and was left in awe of her co-star and Bardem's approach. "What I take away most from her is how much of a mother she was," she added. "Her family was there to support her ... to be able to see someone manage it all — and it's not easy sometimes — and still be so good at what she does, that's a huge inspiration to me."

Penélope Cruz prefers Javier Bardem svelte

As well as having to grow a thick mustache, Javier Bardem needed to put on a considerable amount of weight to play notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar in the 2017 biopic "Loving Pablo." The Spaniard apparently relished getting to enjoy as much pasta, chocolate, and alcohol-free beer as his body could take. However, his wife and co-star in the movie, Penélope Cruz, was less enthusiastic.

While discussing his preparation for the role, Bardem revealed to People that he also relied on a prosthetic belly for the most over-indulgent periods of the Colombian criminal's life. And the Oscar winner joked that his other half "wasn't happy" the first time she saw him at his heaviest.

Cruz herself admitted on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that she found her husband's new appearance difficult to accept. "He was excited about all the junk food he could eat for the role," she recalled. "After the movie, he became also very, very healthy. I think to gain [the weight], it was fast. ... But then to lose it, it takes a while. ... At the end of the shooting, I didn't want to see him like that ever again."

They ensure they get equal pay

Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams in "All the Money in the World." Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in "No Strings Attached." Amy Adams/Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale/Bradley Cooper/Jeremy Renner in "American Hustle." Hollywood is awash with stories of male actors receiving significantly larger pay packets than their female co-stars, even when they enjoy a similar amount of screen time. In fact, a group of economists once discovered that there's an average wage gap of $1.1 million per movie between the sexes at the top of the A-list, per The Guardian.

That's not something that Penélope Cruz has to worry about whenever she joins Javier Bardem on screen, as the Spaniard revealed at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. When asked whether she'd received the same amount of money as her spouse for "Everybody Knows," the Oscar winner simply replied (via Variety), "Actually, yes."

It's not known how much Cruz and Bardem, who'd previously shared top billing in "Jamón Jamón" and "Loving Pablo," took home from the crime drama. But according to Celebrity Net Worth, their combined bank balance amounts to an impressive $75 million.

Javier Bardem initially had doubts about Penélope Cruz

It took over a decade for Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem to get together after their first meeting on the set of "Jamón Jamón." And it could have been even longer, had the latter given into his doubts about the former's personality.

In a 2017 chat with British GQ, Bardem admitted that there was at least one aspect that gave him pause for thought while shooting "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," the Woody Allen film which eventually united him and Cruz as a couple: "Oh, boy. She has that feistiness. There are those scenes where we are arguing, she's throwing plates and so on. I had to wonder, 'Do I really want this?' She has what I call the loving blood. Passion for everything." For the record, Cruz confessed to Interview that she is indeed prone to losing her temper, and there's a telltale sign when the fiery Taurus is angry that doesn't involve destroying dinnerware. "I repeat everything eighty times—again and again and again and again," she said.

Perhaps realizing that his passionate wife, whom he married in secret just three years after "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" wrapped, might read his British GQ interview, Bardem then claimed, "That's what I find attractive. There is beauty and there is being sexy. Penélope has both."

They have differing views about the man that brought them together

In a 2021 interview with The Guardian, Javier Bardem revealed that he credited Woody Allen with bringing him and his wife Penélope Cruz together. After all, it was on the set of the director's rom-com "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" that the pair got the chance to work together again and subsequently fall in love. But both parties have differing views on the allegations surrounding their inadvertent matchmaker.

Speaking at the 11th Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park in New Jersey (via Vanity Fair), Cruz told reporters that she believed the accusations of sexual abuse leveled at Allen should be investigated at the very least: "The important thing is, if there is a case anywhere in the world that isn't clear, then why not look at it again? I am in favor of that."

However, Cruz's other half has regularly dismissed the same claims as gossip. In 2018, Bardem told French magazine Paris Match (via a translation by People), "If there was evidence that Woody Allen was guilty, then yes, I would have stopped working with him, but I have doubts. I am very shocked by this sudden treatment. Judgments in the states of New York and Connecticut found him innocent. The legal situation today is the same as in 2007."

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem want to pass on the same values they were raised with

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem didn't need to look far for parental inspiration after the births of their son Leo and daughter Luna. They both simply remembered the values that their own respective mother and father instilled in them while growing up.

In a 2018 chat with ET to promote their joint venture "Loving Pablo," Bardem revealed his aspirations for his two kids were pretty normal: "I just want them to be nice, honest, caring, loving people. We know that it's not easy to do because the world is a very complex place." Cruz also told the same source that wants to pass on her parents' strong work ethic, adding, "They didn't take anything for granted. They really valued family. Family has always been a priority. That's how I was raised and what I have always seen. I don't know any other way."

Of course, the A-listers' two children are unlikely to learn any of these lessons from their mom and dad's acting careers. The couple's filmographies have little that's suitable for younger viewers, although Bardem joked to British GQ about someday showing their kids "Jamón Jamón" and telling them that they exist "because of it." As for Cruz, insists that she has expressed an interest in doing "some animation work," telling ET, "I would love to. I tried to get into 'Frozen 2.' That was the one [I wanted], but no way."