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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 13:13 GMT
Final bow for Cruise and Cruz
Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise
The couple recently braved the cold at London's The Last Samurai premiere

Film star couple Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz have split up after three years together. BBC News Online looks back at their romance and how their careers have fared since they got together.

The glamorous pair's relationship did not have the easiest of starts - they first met on the set of Vanilla Sky in 2001, at a time when Cruise was petitioning former wife Nicole Kidman for divorce.

Although romance did not start until filming stopped, the relationship was bound for the spotlight following Cruise and Kidman's high-profile break-up.

Meteoric rise

Cruise was already an A-list star with a 20-year film career behind him when he met the Spanish actress.

His first appearance on the big screen was a small part in 1981 film Endless Love.

Some of the biggest box office successes of the 1980s followed, including Top Gun, The Color of Money, Cocktail, Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July.

Nicole Kidman
Kidman's career has flourished since split with Cruise

He also met his second wife Kidman on a film set - 1990's Days of Thunder.

By the 90s, Cruise was one of the world's highest paid actors, appearing in blockbusters such as A Few Good Men, Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire, which earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor.

He appeared in three films opposite his ex-wife - Days of Thunder, Far and Away and Stanley Kubrick's erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut, which took a notoriously long time to shoot, finally opening after the director's death in 1999.

Dancer

The film prompted speculation over the health of Kidman's marriage to Cruise - Kidman admitted that Eyes Wide Shut had put a strain on their marriage.

Cruz meanwhile, was building up a career in her home nation.

After studying classical ballet for nine years, she won a talent agency audition at the age of 15 which landed her several roles in Spanish TV shows.

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz has carved out a career in Hollywood

She made her film debut in 1991's The Greek Labyrinth and appeared a year later in the Oscar-winning film Belle Epoque.

Far from owing her subsequent Hollywood career to her relationship with Cruise, the 29-year-old has Spanish director Pedro Almodovar to thank.

Cruz was offered a role in Almodavar's critically acclaimed Live Flesh in 1997 and two years later she appeared in his international hit, All About My Mother.

Hollywood beckoned and she was soon starring opposite the likes of Johnny Depp in 2001's Blow.

The screen adaptation of Louis de Berniere's Captain Corelli's Mandolin, also in 2001, made her a household name.

Thriller

Since the couple met, Cruz has kept a fairly low profile - her biggest film since Vanilla Sky was French movie Fan Fan la Tulipe, which was not released in the US or UK and received a mixed reception from critics.

But her next project could put her back in the spotlight - she plays a mentally ill patient in horror film Gothika opposite Halle Berry and Robert Downey Junior.

She has also just finished filming romantic drama Head in the Clouds with Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend.

Cruise scored recent success with Steven Spielberg's Minority Report and epic The Last Samurai and has been shooting the third Mission: Impossible film in Belgium and Canada.

The actor also has increased control of his work projects by running his own production company, Cruise Wagner Productions, with Paula Wagner.

Busy

As a couple, the pair have largely shunned the spotlight, with the exception of their trademark appearances at film premieres around the world, where they mingle with fans for hours in all weathers before screenings.

Cruise is a dedicated Scientologist and while Cruz did not convert to the religion, her publicist said it had nothing to do with the split.

Their film work has inevitably led to long periods apart because of filming commitments.

While no reason has been given for the separation, Cruise blamed the breakdown of his marriage to Kidman on the pressures of working apart when they separated in February 2001.

But with Cruise's famous work ethic still strong, it appears that he is not slowing down just yet.




SEE ALSO:
Cruise and Cruz end relationship
26 Mar 04  |  Entertainment
In pictures: Cruise and Cruz charm London
07 Jan 04  |  Photo Gallery
Shrewd moves of charmer Cruise
07 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Cruz minus Cruise at Cannes
14 May 03  |  Entertainment


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