More beautiful than ever at 40, the Oscar winner — she received the golden statuette for her fiery performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona— is now part of an elite club of gorgeous stars who have also been bestowed with the "sexiest alive" title. Past honorees include Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, Minka Kelly, Halle Berry, Kate Beckinsale, Charlize Theron, and Jessica Biel.
Berry was 42 at the time she took the title, making her the oldest winner to date. Johansson, who happens to have starred alongside Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is the magazine's only two-time selection, having won in 2013 and 2006.
So, why Cruz? Though the Spanish siren has shown off her sultry side in such films as Vanilla Sky, The Counselor, and To Rome With Love, she and her husband, Javier Bardem, keep a relatively low profile in Hollywood, which makes her something of a surprising pick for theEsquire title. We haven't really seen much of Penélope since she and Javier tied the knot in 2010 and became the parents to a now 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. And true to form, the actress — who is among those rumored to be Daniel Craig's next Bond girl — remained tight-lipped on just about everything during her interview with Esquire as well, only saying that family is everything to her and the reason she seems to have gone off the radar. But perhaps the mystery surrounding her personal life is part of her allure.
While few would argue that Cruz is among the sexiest ladies on planet Earth, it can't be easy for Esquire editors to declare one woman the world's most desirable. Sofia Vergara would certainly have been a fine choice. Not to mention Kate Upton. And Beyoncé. And Hollywood "It" girl Emily Ratajkowski. And, well, a lot of beautiful women. (See, we told you it wasn't an easy decision.)
Who do you think is the sexiest woman alive?