I looked for an agent and she sent me away three times because I was a little girl but I kept coming back.
I'm still with her after all these years." In 1999, Katrina Bayonas, Cruz's agent, commented, "She was absolutely magic [at the audition].
Also in 1998 Cruz appeared in Don Juan and The Girl of Your Dreams.
In the period drama The Girl of Your Dreams (La niña de tus ojos), Cruz portrayed Macarena Granada, a singer who is in an on-and-off relationship with Antonio Resines's character, Blas.
Signed by an agent at the age of 15, she made her acting debut at 16 on television and her feature film debut the following year in Jamón Jamón (1992).
Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000).
They are part of a Francoist film troupe that travels from Spain during the Spanish Civil War to Nazi Germany for a joint production with UFA.
Cruz's performance in the film was praised by film critics, with Jonathan Holloland of Variety magazine writing "if confirmation is still needed that Cruz is an actress first and a pretty face second, then here it is".
She played Pelagia, who falls in love with another man while her fiancé is in battle during the Second World War.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News in 1999, Cruz commented that "it was a great part, but... [...] But I have no regrets because I wanted to start working and it changed my life." For her performance, Cruz was nominated for a Spanish Actors Union Newcomer Award and a Goya Award for Best Actress.
The same year she appeared in the Academy-Award-winning Belle Epoque as the virginal Luz.
Annlee Ellingson of Box Office magazine wrote "Cruz is stunning in the role—innocent and vulnerable yet possessing a mature grace and determined strength, all while sizzling with unchecked sensuality." 2001 marked a turning point year when Cruz starred in the feature films Vanilla Sky and Blow.
In Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe's interpretation of Open Your Eyes, she played Sofia Serrano, the love interest of Tom Cruise's character.
" and "Thank you." In 1997, Cruz appeared in the Spanish comedy film Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health.