Spanish siren Penelope Cruz's Hollywood dream is hinged on the success of upcoming movie SAHARA - after her previous films failed to catapult her to the top of the acting 'A' list.

Tom Cruise's sexy girlfriend is said to be deeply disappointed that films such as CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN and Vanilla Sky failed to elevate her to the same status as his ex-wife Nicole Kidman.

And competitive Cruz - who found fame in her native country thanks to a string of Pedro Almodovar hits - is determined to capture the public imagination with her role in the MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY-starring action film.

A source says, "Penelope is ambitious but hasn't really been acclaimed as an 'A' list actress yet. She's better known for being Tom's girlfriend and is hoping this movie will put her on the map in her own right."

Cruz, 29, will fly out to Morocco next month (FEB04) to begin filming her role as a UN scientist trying to avert an environmental crisis.

21/01/2004 01:44