At 40 years old, Cruz covers the men's magazine Nov. issue (hitting newsstands Oct. 21) in a sexy, cleavage-baring swimsuit, proving why she's earned the coveted title.
"I've played a lot of tricks on myself,” she tells Esquire of her younger years. "I've made it hard for me sometimes, especially in my teens and twenties. I had an attraction to drama. Most of us have that, especially if you are an artist -- you feel like you are tempted to explore the darkness."
Now a mother-of-two and wife to Javier Bardem, Cruz admits, "I could not be less interested now. For me, the most attractive, charming, cool, fun, interesting thing -- how could I call it? A plan."
When asked to chat a bit about her famous husband and their family, Cruz shuts it down, saying, "That is for us."
The Oscar winner's Sexiest Woman Alive predecessors include her Vicky Cristina Barcelona co-star and two-time winner Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Rihanna.
Is Cruz your pick for Sexiest Woman Alive this year?
Earlier this year, Jennifer Lawrence was voted " target="_blank">Sexiest Woman in the World by FHM magazine. See what her X-Men: Days of Future Past co-stars had to say about Lawrence's title.