While actors like Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and Antonio Banderas are better known in America, Santiago Segura might just be Spain's most popular and successful movie star. Born on July 17, 1965 in the Carabanchel district of Madrid, Segura didn't waste any time getting his film career started: He began making short movies with a Super-8 camera at the tender age of 14. In 1990, a short of his called Relatos de Media Noche won second prize and 100,000 pesetas at the International Film Festival Cinema Jove, and four years later his Perturbado won the Goya Award (the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar) for Best Short Film. Meanwhile, he was keeping busy with various odd jobs to support his moviemaking, including participating in game shows, waiting tables, and writing erotic stories and comics.
He won another Goya Award in 1996, this time as Best New Actor for his work in El día de la bestia (English title: The Day of the Beast), but his breakout role came two years later with Torrente: The Dumb Arm of the Law. Segura wrote, directed, and starred as the title character in the envelope-pushing gross-out comedy, which focuses on a corrupt, racist, and politically incorrect cop who disgusts everyone he comes across. The film was a massive box-office hit in Spain and has spawned four sequels to date (all of them written and directed by Segura as well).
Although he's a huge fan of American culture and humor -- his apartment is packed with DVDs of everything from Hollywood screwball comedies to Eddie Murphy's standup specials, and he cites Steve Martin in particular as a hero -- success across the Atlantic has proved elusive: In 2011's Jack and Jill, he portrayed the lover of a woman played by Adam Sandler in drag, and he had a small role in 2004's Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. Otherwise, his biggest benefactor in Hollywood has been his friend Guillermo del Toro, who says he loves to kill off Segura in his films; thus far, he's appeared in del Toro's Blade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II, and Pacific Rim, frequently meeting a gruesome fate at hands of the director's signature monsters.
Behind the scenes, Segura and his longtime partner, makeup artist Maria Amaro, have two daughters named Calma and Sirena. While a devoted father, he isn't above using his children to help out with the family business: A six-year-old Calma made a cameo appearance in Torrente 5 (2014), playing a child laborer in a workshop.