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Eduardo Noriega

With looks that put him at the top of the current Spanish heartthrob crop, 25-year-old Eduardo Noriega should be appearing in romantic comedy after romantic comedy. But of his five pics to date, only one has been in that genre — this year’s “Cha Cha Cha,” by Antonio del Real.

Noriega has used his looks to edgy purpose ever since he debuted in Montxo Armendariz’s 1994 take on Spain’s Genera-tion X, “Kronen Stories.” His 1997 thriller, Rafael Monleon’s “A Question of Luck,” pitched his brash-but-nervous teenager against French thesp Ana Galiena’s older woman.

But it is his two pics for young helming sensation Alejandro Amenabar that have defined his style so far. In 1995’s “Thesis,” Noriega stars as a rich kid who gets off on making snuff movies — a tough role, carried off with insouciant grace. Tougher still was 1997’s “Open Your Eyes.” Here, Noriega was faced with the major challenge of carrying much of the pic from behind a grotesque mask.

Despite his breakthrough performance in “Eyes,” the actor stresses, “I’m only just beginning,” giving much of the credit to his director. “There’s a strange certainty that Amenabar has in every setup. We rehearsed for three months, and when we shot, I even knew the music that would be used in each scene.”

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