France's culture minister has honoured Penelope Cruz, calling her a "great European actress" and proclaiming her a knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres praised in particular her international film career, which includes roles in French, English, Italian and her native Spanish.
"It's France's role to be the ardent defender of cultural diversity and to recognise those who extend, with their talent, the culture of their country," the minister said. "I'm happy to have honoured this great European actress".
The Spaniard, who is in Paris to promote her new movie, Bandidas, received the minister's accolades with modesty.
"I'm not sure that I deserve it, but I will do my best so that you won't regret it," Cruz said during the ceremony at the Culture Ministry. She praised Paris as a centre of culture.
The minister cited Bandidas as an example of Cruz' ability to work with a diverse cast of international talent. The film, a western about two female outlaws set in 19th century Mexico, was written and produced by French filmmaker Luc Besson.
The film co-stars Mexican film star Salma Hayek, who was present at the ceremony and gave Cruz a congratulatory hug.
"She is very proud of her friend," said Kira Dominguez, Hayek's personal assistant.
Cruz rocketed to international stardom with the success of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-winning All About My Mother. AP
Source: Sydney Morning Herald.