penelope cruz for Esquire magazinePhotos by Nico for Esquire

It’s hard to put a finger on it—but there’s something that makes Penelope Cruz the undeniable choice for Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive.” Maybe it’s her smoldering gaze. Perhaps it’s her unruly mane of dark hair. Or maybe it’s her captivating smile, which always seems to be concealing the juiciest secret.

And she’s definitely got more than a few secrets.

Penelope Cruz, Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive

Having been in Hollywood for 20+ years, Cruz has managed to remain more or less out of the spotlight when it comes to her personal life. In her interview with Chris Jones, Cruz refused to discuss her marriage, her children, the film she just worked on, the film she’s currently working on, or her recent political stunt.

Does she come off as cold, or simply a perpetual mystery? Read the full story here and enjoy even more exclusive photos in your Next Issue app (Esquire, November 2014).

penelope cruz for Esquire magazine

While you’re at it, Esquire‘s got plenty of other ways to add a little more “sexy” to your day. Enjoy! 

1) Don’t forget about last year’s Sexiest Woman Alive! In the bedroom with Scarlett Johansson. 
2) The evolutionary science behind what men find sexy, as illustrated by gorgeous model Elsa Hosk.
3) A look back on the sexiest moments of 2013 – can’t wait for this year’s roundup!