Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem is a Spanish actor. He has garnered critical acclaim for roles in films such as Jamón, jamón, Carne tremula, Boca a boca, Los Lunes al sol and Mar adentro.
Bardem has been awarded an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA, four Goya awards, two European Film Awards, a Prize for Best Actor at Cannes and two Coppa Volpis at Venice for his work. He is the first Spaniard to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Actor, 2000, for Before Night Falls, lost to Russell Crowe for Gladiator), as well as the first to win an acting Oscar (Supporting Actor, 2007, for No Country for Old Men), rather than in the Foreign Language Film category. He received his third Academy Award nomination, and second Best Actor nomination, for the film Biutiful.
Bardem was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, Spain. His mother, Pilar Bardem, is an actress, and his father, Carlos Encinas, was a businessman who was involved in environmental work; the two separated shortly after his birth. Bardem comes from a long line of filmmakers and actors who have been working since the earliest days of Spanish cinema; he is the grandson of actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro, and the nephew of screenwriter and director Juan Antonio Bardem.Both his older brother and older sister, Carlos and Mónica Bardem, are actors. Bardem was raised Roman Catholic by his grandmother. Bardem's film debut was at the age of six and a half in the film El Pícaro (The Scoundrel), and he appeared in several television series before turning to painting and, eventually, sports. Before acting professionally, Bardem played rugby in Spain.
He appeared in TV parts throughout his youth, but had not been inspired to seek a career in acting. In 1986, he was in Pedro Maso's 12-part series Segunda Ensenanza. He briefly toured with an independent theatre troupe, appearing in El Medico A Palos and El Sombrero De Tres Picos, and in 1989 appeared in Brigada Central, also for Pedro Maso. That same year, he would impersonate Superman when appearing in the morning show "El Dia Por Delante", a mix of comedy, news and chat hosted by Pepe Navarro. He did not take these jobs seriously, instead just saw it as a way of making money, just like his other jobs as a bouncer, a construction worker and (for one night only) a stripper.
Career: Early work, 1990–99:
At age 20, Bardem decided to pursue his family trade and leave EAO when he was approached by Bigas Luna to appear in an upcoming movie, The Ages of Lulu. Consulting with his mother (also in the film), he was advised to take acting seriously if he were to go through with it. In the film Bardem played a hunky, charming bisexual. The Ages Of Lulu was hailed by some as an erotic masterpiece, by others as a new low, gutter-porn masquerading as art. Regardless of the movie's mixed reviews, Bardem was superb as the charismatic, violently pragmatic pimp.
Bardem in 2009
After a brief role in the TV miniseries Tango, El Baile De Poder, he scored a bit part in High Heels, by Spain's most popular director, Pedro Almodovar, starring Almodovar favourites Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril. High Heels involved mother-daughter jealousies and a murderous love triangle, it would be the second highest-grossing film in Spanish history. Following this great success would come another small contribution, this time to Amo Tu Cama Rica. “I realized I was becoming an actor, so I thought, ‘OK, stop. If I’m going to do this, I have to do it right because of my surname,’” Bardem would later explain.
In 1992, he made his first international hit with dark comedy, Jamón, jamón playing a macho gigolo, which also starred Penélope Cruz. This would be a reunion with Bigas Luna, but this time with Bardem in a lead role. The film garnered six Goya nominations, including nods for Bardem and Cruz, and it became a cult hit around the world. The film's success catapulted Javier into the limelight. Due to the fame it brought him, he had his nose broken by a complete stranger at a disco in Madrid, and was forced at the age of 24 to give up rugby, a game he'd loved since he was 9.
His lack of English was already costing him work as he'd been forced to turn down a part in the original London production of Terry Johnson's Hysteria, where he would have played Salvador Dali in his famous meeting with Sigmund Freud in 1938, the role eventually went to Tim Potter and the play won an Olivier award as Best Comedy in 1994. In 1993 Bardem was in two more bit parts, The Bilingual Lover and then in Sancho Gracia's Huidos, a story of Republican resistance during the Spanish Civil War. Following these would come Bardem's first major lead, in Golden Balls, his third collaboration with Bigas Luna. As a flashy, cruel and deeply weird doomed dreamer, it was another brilliant performance by Bardem, winning him his second Goya nomination.
Bardem reunited with Jamón, jamón co-star Jordi Molla for the short Prognostic Reservat. He also took a brief but telling role in Running Out Of Time. Though, Bardem's most prominent performance of 1994 would be in The Detective And Death, directed by Gonzalo Suarez loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Story of a Mother. It was a strange, compelling film with haunting visuals and the moodiest of soundtracks. The film was nominated for five Goyas with Bardem winning a Silver Seashell at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The year 1995 brought him yet more acclaim. It began with a part in the black comedy short La Madre, a family affair directed by Javier's cousin Miguel and starring his mom Pilar. Then would come Boca a boca, directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira and written by Joaquin Oristrell. Here Bardem plays an aspiring actor so crippled by shyness and self-doubt he must psych himself up to work by doing Travis Bickle impressions, low on money and awaiting a part in an American movie, he takes work as a phone sex operator and there finds the freedom to convincingly perform. Unfortunately, it all goes wrong when he meets caller Aitana Sanchez-Gijon who involves him in a double cross and a romantic triangle. The movie would garner eight Goya nominations with Bardem being the only winner.
After having popped up in Pedro Perez Jimenez's Mambru, Bardem's next starring role would be in Mariano Barroso's Éxtasis, a robbery plot that becomes a psychological thriller marked by greed, seduction and betrayal. The same year, 1996, would bring two more high-profile releases. First there'd be Not Love, Just Frenzy, Co-written and co-directed by Miguel Bardem, the film would also feature siblings Carlos and Monica, and, for the first time since Jamon, Jamon, Penelope Cruz. And Bardem would stick with Cruz for Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health, a second movie with Manuel Gomez Pereira and writer Joaquin Oristrell, the movie would feature Cruz briefly and Bardem for just a matter of seconds. 1997 would begin with Airbag, a riotous comedy featuring both mom Pilar and former co-star Maria De Medeiros.
Now established as one of Spain's top stars, Bardem worked again with his home's leading director Pedro Almodovar. They collaborated on the 1997's Live Flesh, for Bardem this was a renunion with mom Pilar, Liberto Rabal, Francesca Neri, and Penelope Cruz (in a brief cameo at the start). Bardem plays a paralyzed wheelchair-basketball star. Live Flesh was complicated and clever, political and absurd, fascinating and brilliantly played, with Bardem Goya-nominated again. Bardem's final release of 1997 would be Perdita Durango, playing a santeria-practicing bank robber. Bardem's next appearance would be a cameo in Santiago Segura's black comedy, Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley. The movie was accused of being abjectly crude and offensive; though, it would be the biggest box-office hit ever in Spain. 1999 would be another strong year for Bardem releases. First, he'd reteam with the Pereira/Oristrell partnership for Between Your Legs, a comedy drama of betrayal, blackmail and madness featuring former co-stars Victoria Abril and Carmelo Gomez. Following this would come Washington Wolves, another collaboration with Éxtasis director Mariano Barroso and Live Flesh co-star Jose Sancho. Next there'd be Second Skin with Jordi Molla and Ariadna Gil (both former Bardem co-stars).
Bardem at Cannes Film festival, 2000. Though his fame was confined to his native country, Bardem's talent had not gone unnoticed in the English-speaking world. Back in 1997, John Malkovich had approached Bardem to star in his directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Bardem, though flattered that Malkovich had heard of him, turned him down because his English was very poor. Undeterred, Malkovich spent the next three years earning and seeking finance for his project. Meanwhile, renowned artist and director, Julian Schnabel was producing a movie based on the memoirs of Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet and novelist, persecuted for his homosexuality and liberalism by Castro's post-revolutionary government. Schnabel had asked Bardem to play the minor role to which Bardem had said no, that role eventually went to Olivier Martinez. After being turned down by the now well-established Hollywood actor, Benicio Del Toro, Schnabel asked Bardem to play the lead. Javier saw it impossible to convincingly speak English with a Cuban accent but when offered the lead, it was an opportunity too great to reject. Asking Schnabel for a few weeks to decide Javier went to Cuba to get an idea of Arenas, seeking out people in the streets who knew the poet, many of whom were still too scared to speak. After convincing himself that Arenas would be a role he could be proud of, he entered a period of intense preparation. Physically, he lost any hint of masculine muscularity dropping 30 pounds and spent eight hours a day with an English teacher.
Javier's first English-speaking film became his international breakthrough, Before Night Falls in 2000. Javier portrayed Arenas from a 17-year-old, loving life and on the verge of sexual awakening, to a pallid 45-year-old, crushed by AIDS, eager to die. Bardem won the Volpi Cup at Venice, was nominated for a Golden Globe and became the first Spaniard to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film changed things for Bardem making him known worldwide, and becoming sought-after. Bardem's next release would see him provide a cameo in Spanish production Don't Tempt Me, featuring his former colleagues Penelope Cruz and Victoria Abril, as well as Gael Garcia Bernal (mother Pilar would also appear, in a photograph). In 2002, with the film's finance secured and Bardem having learned English, would come Malkovich's directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Loosely based on the real-life hunt for Abimael Guzman, this saw Bardem as a lawyer who's become a detective in order to better serve the cause of justice. Malkovich described him as "the best young actor in Europe, maybe anywhere. He has the strength and power of a bull but with a very masculine fragility underneath," said Malkovich. "His talent is off the radar." 2002 also brought another hit in Mondays in the Sun, Spain's biggest film of the year, even outdoing Almodovar's Talk to Her. This was a hard-hitting socio-political study of a group of unemployed shipbuilders, Bardem would play Santa, a fiery activist who's the unelected leader of the men. It would take five Goyas, including one for Bardem. Following this would come Variaciones, Javier Aguirre's visual accompaniment to a poem by Jorge Luis Borges. It would open with Bardem and Ines Sastre running together and kissing, the scene would replay over and over, manipulating the shot and altering the aurals and visuals. Javier Bardem and the Coen brothers at the Cannes Film Festival 2007.
Critical success, 2004-current:
Immediately after Before Night Falls he'd turned down the role in Minority Report which eventually went to Colin Farrell and, perhaps more wisely, a part in Basic Instinct 2. Now, though, he'd step up for his first major Hollywood picture, making a brief appearance as a crime lord who summons Tom Cruise's hitman to do the dirty work of dispatching witnesses in Michael Mann's crime drama Collateral. That year Bardem won the Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his role in 2004's Mar Adentro, released in the United States as The Sea Inside, in which he portrayed the quadriplegic turned assisted-suicide activist Ramón Sampedro.
In 2007, Bardem acted in two film adaptations: the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, and the adaptation of the Colombian novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. In No Country for Old Men, he played a sociopathic killer, Anton Chigurh. For that role, he became the first Spaniard to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also won a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, and the 2008 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Supporting Actor. Bardem's rendition of Chigurh's trademark phrase, "Call it, friendo," was named Top HollyWORDIE of 2007 in the annual survey by the Global Language Monitor. Chigurh was named #26 in Entertainment Weekly magazine's 2008 "50 Most Vile Villains in Movie History" list.
He starred with Cruz and others in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). Bardem was in talks to play fictional filmmaker Guido Contini in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine; the part eventually went to Daniel Day-Lewis. In 2010, he was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Biutiful directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. On January 25, 2011 Bardem was the unexpected Oscar nominee for his role in Biutiful, after being overlooked by the Globes and SAG, he became the first all Spanish-language Best Actor nominee ever.
It was speculated that he would guest-star on the second season of Glee as a rock star who befriends Artie. He will indeed appear in the show in 2011. Bardem will appear in the untitled sixth feature by Terrence Malick, shot in fall 2010 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
He has been offered the lead role of "Gunslinger" Roland Deschain in Ron Howard's adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels. If he signs, he will also star in the TV series as well. According to Deadline.com he was also offered a starring role (possibly the villain) in the upcoming James Bond film, Bond 23. The EON Productions offer to Bardem to join Daniel Craig was made at around the same time that he received his Best Actor nomination for Biutiful and the Roland Deschain offer. But there's no telling which he'll go with, noting that in the past Bardem was offered the high-profile villain role in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps but turned it down.
Bardem does not know how to drive and consistently refers to himself as a "worker" and not an actor. Bardem is an atheist; following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Spain in 2005, Bardem incited controversy when he stated that if he were gay, he would "get married tomorrow, just to mess with the Church" (mañana mismo, sólo para joder a la Iglesia). Bardem's life's work was honored at the 2007 Gotham Awards, produced by Independent Feature Project. Bardem began dating then co-star Penélope Cruz in 2007, although the couple have maintained a low public profile. According to the Associated Press, the two were married in July 2010 in the Bahamas. On September 14, 2010, it was announced that Cruz was four and a half months pregnant with their first child. The Hollywood Reporter quoted the Spanish-language ¡Hola! that Cruz gave birth to a boy on January 22, 2011, three days before Bardem received his third Oscar nomination, for his role in Biutiful.