The Sea Inside
Acclaimed Spanish actress Belen Rueda started out as the host of several Spanish TV game shows, including "La Ruleta de la Fortuna," the Spanish edition of "Wheel of Fortune," and as the star of the Spanish TV series "Médico de familia" (1997) and its spin-off, "Periodistas" (as Clara Nadal; 1998-2002). She also starred in "Serrano, Los" (as Lucia; 2003-2007).
Rueda enjoyed movie stardom in 2004 when she starred opposite Javier Bardem, playing a lawyer who supports a man practicing euthanasia, in the Oscar-winning film "Mar adentro" (aka. "The Sea Inside"). She made her first English-speaking film alongside Julianne Moore in the biopic "Savage Grace" (2007) and recently returned to her country to star in the gothic horror/thriller film "Orfanato, El" (2007; aka. "The Orphanage"). She will next be seen in the upcoming Spanish films "Va de citas" and "Mal ajeno, El."
On a more personal note, the 5' 10" former model has been married and divorced twice. The mother of two is now dating actor José Luis García Pérez.
Childhood and Family:
In Madrid, Spain, María Belén Rueda García-Porrero was born on March 16, 1965. Her father worked as a civil engineer and her mother was a ballet instructor. She has an older and a younger sister. She and her family moved to San Juan when she was a child because of her younger sister's asthma. Her sister, Chus Rueda, often works as a stylist in series Belén participates in.
At age 18, Rueda moved to Madrid to study architecture, but she left the university when she met an Italian man named Massimo whom she later married in 1985. They divorced in 1987 and Rueda lived with producer Daniel Écija for 15 years. The couple married in 2003 and split up in May 2004. Their divorce was finalized in 2006. Rueda has three children with Écija: Belén (born in 1994), María (born in 1996; died of heart disease as a baby) and Lucía (born in 1998).
Rueda is good friends with Cuban composer/actor Emilio Aragón.
After her first marriage, Belen Rueda worked as a salesperson and model until she became a TV host. From the early to mid 1990s, she hosted a string of TV shows, including the TV game shows "Telecupón," "VIP noche," "Ruleta de la fortuna, La," and "Ta tocao," which handed her a TP de Oro nomination for Best Presenter – Female. She also appeared in the musical comedy "Noche, noche" and the TV show "Sin ir más lejos."
In 1997, at age 32, Rueda appeared in the Spanish show "Médico de familia.” In the following year, she played the same character in the "Médico de familia" spin-off, "Periodistas," which ran from 1998 to 2002. Meanwhile, Rueda was also spotted as a guest in a February 2001 episode of the Spanish sitcom "7 vidas," which was originally inspired by the American blockbuster "Friends."
After "Periodistas," Rueda landed a co-starring role in a Spanish TV show co-created by husband Daniel Écija, "Serrano, Los." She played Lucia on the show from 2003 to 2007 and her work earned nominations from the Fotogramas de Plata (for Best TV Actress), Spanish Actors Union (for Television: Lead Performance, Female), and TP de Oro (for Best Actress). She also appeared in a TV commercial for El Corte Inglés with the rest of the main actors of "Serrano, Los" (summer campaign 2004).
"I'm going to work on a new film produced by Alejandro Almenabar. It happens in a hospital. My daughter asked me, 'Are you going to do another film about pain? All your films are very, very sad Mommy.' It has a little fantastic but it's very real. I'm going to start shooting in April." Belen Rueda
During her "Serrano, Los" stint, Rueda began acting in films. Her film debut, "Mar adentro" (2004; aka. "The Sea Inside"), a true story-based drama co-written and directed by Spanish/Chilean director Alejandro Amenábar, received international praise and won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2004 Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Her outstanding performance as Julia, a lawyer who supports a former sailor (played by Javier Bardem) who has been quadriplegic for twenty-eight years and is fighting in court for his right to die, also garnered high praise. She won Cinema Writers Circle's Best New Artist award, Fotogramas de Plata's Best Movie Actress, Goya's Best New Actress, and the Spanish Actors Union's Newcomer Award-Female. She also received a Best Actress nomination at the Premios ACE Awards.
In 2005, Rueda starred in Francesc Talavera's 22-minute short film called "Retruc." Two years later, in January 2007, she made her stage debut in "Closer," playing the character portrayed by Julia Roberts in the movie version. She also made her first American film with "Savage Grace," director Tom Kalin's dramatization of the shocking Barbara Daly Baekeland 1972 murder case.
Commenting on her first English-speaking film, Rueda said, "I was in a small part in a movie with Julianne Moore called 'Savage Grace' (2007). It was small but it was in English and it was really, really bad. It's very hard to work in another language. You're thinking about your pronunciation and you're not thinking about the emotions and you feel like you are lost."
Also in 2007, Rueda starred as Laura, a woman who runs an old orphanage and whose 7-year-old son (played by Roger Príncep) has an imaginary friend, in the successful Spanish horror film "El Orfanato" (aka. "The Orphanage"). The film, directed by first-timer Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, opened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 20, 2007. It opened in Spain's Sitges Film Festival on October 4, 2007, and to a limited release in the United States on December 28, 2007. The film was chosen by the Spanish Academy of Films as Spain's nominee for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. For her brilliant performance in the gothic thriller, Rueda won the Best Actress Award at the Barcelona Film Awards and was nominated for Best Actress at the Cinema Writers Circle Awards and Best Lead Actress at the Goya Awards.
When asked why she received the role in the film, Rueda explained, "When I read the script the first time, I loved it very much. I understood Laura. I'm a mother. I understood what happened to her. You go with her all the way. I think the audience feels everything that she feels because she starts like you and me and then she starts to change, but she has a very good reason and you can understand her."
Rueda has completed her upcoming film project, "Va de citas," a romantic comedy directed by Peris Romano and Rodrigo Sorogoyen. She is currently working on Óskar Santos Gómez's drama film, "Mal ajeno, El."
"My career is the opposite of normal actors." Belen Rueda
Barcelona Film: Best Actress (Millor Actriu), "Orfanato, El," 2007
Cinema Writers Circle: Best New Artist (Premio Revelación), "Mar adentro," 2005
Fotogramas de Plata: Best Movie Actress (Mejor Actriz de Cine), "Mar adentro," 2005
Goya: Best New Actress (Mejor Actriz Revelación), "Mar adentro," 2005
Spanish Actors Union: Newcomer Award-Female (Categoría Femenina), "Mar adentro," 2005