Already a familiar face in world cinema thanks to fine performances in such films as Open Your Eyes and Talk to Her, Spanish actor Fele Martínez teetered on the brink of international success in the wake of work for such internationally recognized directors as Alejandro Amenábar and Pedro Almodóvar. Following his Goya-winning performance in filmmaker Amenábar's chilling feature debut, Thesis, Martínez has successfully alternated between lesser-known Spanish features and major exports.
A native of Alicante, Valencia, Spain, the aspiring actor studied his craft in Madrid, creating the Sex-Peare Theater troupe with a group of close friends and fellow students before moving into film with his role as a connoisseur of the macabre in Thesis. By taking a supporting character that might have otherwise been two-dimensional and turning him into an ever-evolving character that the audience could actually feel for, the rising star rightfully earned the Best New Actor Goya that was subsequently bestowed upon him. After having his girlfriend stolen by a handsome (at least momentarily) Eduardo Noriega in director Amenábar's art-house hit Open Your Eyes (later remade in the U.S. as Vanilla Sky), Martínez spent the next few years carving a comfortable niche for himself in the realm of Spanish cinema. In 2000, Martínez stepped into the lead with a role in the Scream-inspired Spanish teen horror flick The Art of Dying, and in 2002, he essayed a pair of high-profile roles in both Jaume Balagueró's Darkness (set for release in the U.S. in 2004) and acclaimed director Almodóvar's Talk to Her. With his role as the best friend of lead Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También) in Almodóvar's 2004 drama Bad Education, it seemed as if Martínez was finally poised for the international recognition that had previously eluded him among mainstream filmgoers.