No frills, no fuss: the first couple of film tie the knot in private

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The Independent Online

The last time Penelope Cruz wore white for a big occasion was at the 2009 Oscars, when she dedicated her Best Supporting Actress gong to the "actors of my country" but pointedly neglected, in her long list of highly emotional thank-yous, to name-check fellow Spaniard Javier Bardem – not just her co-star in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but also her boyfriend.

It was therefore true to form that, when Cruz, 36, travelled to a friend's house in the Bahamas earlier this month with a John Galliano wedding gown stuffed inside her suitcase, to formalise finally her three-year relationship with Bardem, 41, she should fail in a celebrity's supposed duty to share intimate details of the impending nuptials with the outside world.

No pictures of the tiny ceremony attended only by family members were circulated to the media, and news that it had taken place did not emerge for almost a fortnight.

Yesterday, the couple's PR representative, Amanda Silverman, told Life & Style magazine that rumours of their marriage were entirely accurate.

In a statement that only deepened the air of suave elusiveness around the duo, who go straight to the top of the league-table of Hollywood's most fashionable married couples, the spokeswoman would add only that Galliano, who was not at the ceremony, was counted as "an old friend".

Improbably, given the frequency with which film stars traditionally tend to marry, Mr and Mrs Bardem become the first ever couple to have tied the knot after they have both won Academy Awards for acting. Bardem, 41, was named Best Supporting Actor in 2008 for his role as a monosyllabic hitman in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men.

The pair first met as teenagers on the set of Bigas Luna's film Jamon, Jamon in 1992, but did not become romantically involved until they were cast as a Spanish artist (Bardem) and his former wife in the Woody Allen film for which Cruz won her Oscar.

In the three years they have since spent together, the couple have remained intensely private about their relationship. They sometimes walk red carpets together, but journalists invited to interview them about forthcoming films are usually told not to ask "personal" questions. The rule is enforced by PR handlers who sit in on every interview.

That of course puts them at odds with celebrity protocol. For example, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones – who are one of just three married couples to have both won acting Oscars (but who, unlike the Bardems, managed that achievement after becoming husband and wife) – decided to sell pictures of their lavish wedding to OK! magazine for £1m.

After giving a gushing interview about the occasion to the glossy weekly, the Douglases also successfully sued Hello in the UK courts after it printed a paparazzi shot of the reception without permission. Cruz and Bardem are cut from a different cloth. They both speak Spanish and have arguably produced their greatest work in that language.

The other two couples to have both won acting awards (Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh) were from English-speaking stock.

Despite the couple's longstanding shyness, recent months have seen a mild change of tone. Bardem, who failed to say a word about Cruz during his Oscar speech in 2008, raised eyebrows at Cannes in May when he came dangerously close to soppiness after winning the Best Actor award for his role in Biutiful by the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

"I share the joy of this prize with my friend, my companion, my love, Penelope Cruz," he announced. "I owe you so much, and I love you very much."

Multi-Oscar couples

Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones (Wed in 2000)

His Oscar: Wall Street (1988)

Hers: Chicago (2003)

Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward (1958)

His: The Color of Money (1987)

Hers: The Three Faces of Eve (1958)

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh (1940)

His: Hamlet (1949)

Hers: Gone With The Wind (1940); A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

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