Javier Bardem is a Spanish actor and environmental activist. Bardem won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the psychopathic assassin Anton Chigurh in the 2007 Coen brothers film No Country for Old Men.
He has also received critical acclaim for roles in films such as Jamón Jamón, Carne trémula, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Boca a boca, Los lunes al sol, Mar adentro, and Skyfall, for which he received both a BAFTA and a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
- Full name: Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem
- Born: 1 March 1969 (age 51 years), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
- Height: 1.81 m
- Spouse: Penélope Cruz (m. 2010)
- Children: Luna Encinas Cruz, Leo Encinas Cruz
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About Javier Bardem
Bardem was born on 1 March 1969 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands, Spain. He is son of José Carlos Encinas Doussinague (1931–1995), was the son of a cattle rancher, and Pilar Bardem (born María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz), is an actress.
According to Pilar’s memoirs, José had a “capricious and violent will” who shot up the front door. He changed jobs more than 10 times, leading to evictions and the children going hungry. The two separated shortly after Javier’s birth, and his mother raised him and his elder siblings, Carlos and Mónica, alone. (Another sibling died shortly after birth.) His father died of leukemia in 1995.
Bardem comes from a long line of filmmakers and actors dating back to the earliest days of Spanish cinema; he is a grandson of actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro, and a nephew of screenwriter and director Juan Antonio Bardem.
Both siblings are actors. He also comes from a political background, as his uncle Juan Antonio was imprisoned by Franco for his anti-fascist films. Bardem was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith by his grandmother.
As a child, he spent time at theatres and on film sets. At age six, he made his first film appearance, in Fernando Fernán Gómez’s El Pícaro (The Scoundrel).
He also played rugby for the junior Spanish National Team. Though he grew up in a family full of actors, Bardem did not see himself going into the family business.
Actually, painting was his first love. He went on to study painting for four years at Madrid’s Escuela de Artes y Oficios. In need of money he took acting jobs to support his painting, but he also says he was a bad painter and eventually abandoned that career pursuit.
In 1989, for the Spanish comedy show El Día Por Delante (The Day Ahead), he had to wear a Superman costume for a comedic sketch, a job that made him question whether he wanted to be an actor at all. Bardem has confessed to having worked as a stripper (for one day only) during his struggling acting career.
Bardem came to notice in a small role in his first major motion picture, The Ages of Lulu, when he was 20, in which he appeared along with his mother, Pilar Bardem. Bigas Luna, the director of Lulu, was sufficiently impressed to give him the leading male role in his next film, Jamón Jamón in 1992, in which Bardem played a would-be underwear model and bullfighter.
The film, which also starred a teenaged Penélope Cruz, was a major international success. He then starred again in Luna’s next film Golden Balls (1993).
Bardem’s talent did not go unnoticed in the English-speaking world. In 1997, John Malkovich was the first to approach him, then a 27-year-old, for a role in English, but the Spanish actor turned down the offer because his English was still poor.
His first English-speaking role came that same year, in with director Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango, playing a santería-practicing bank robber.
After starring in about two dozen films in his native country, he gained international recognition in Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls in 2000, portraying Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.
He received praise from his idol Al Pacino; the message Pacino left on Bardem’s answering machine was something he considers one of the most beautiful gifts he has ever received.
For that role, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the first for a Spaniard. Immediately after, he turned down the role of Danny Witwer in Minority Report which eventually went to Colin Farrell.
Instead, in 2002, Bardem starred in Malkovich’s directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Malkovich originally had Bardem in mind for the role of the detective’s assistant, but the movie’s taking so long to obtain financing gave Bardem time to learn English and take on the lead role of the detective. “I will always be grateful to him because he really gave me my very first chance to work in English”, has said Bardem of Malkovich.
Javier Bardem and the Coen brothers at the Cannes Film Festival 2007. Bardem won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his role in Mar Adentro (2004), released in the United States as The Sea Inside, in which he portrayed the quadriplegic turned assisted suicide activist Ramón Sampedro.
He made his Hollywood debut in a brief appearance as a crime lord who summons Tom Cruise’s hitman to do the dirty work of dispatching witnesses in the crime drama Collateral. He stars in Miloš Forman’s 2006 film Goya’s Ghosts opposite Natalie Portman, where he plays a twisted monk during the Spanish Inquisition.
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 with Giovanna Mezzogiorno by Gabriel García Márquez.
In No Country for Old Men, he played a sociopathic assassin, 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 word, “What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?” (in response to the convenience store owner’s query, “Ya’ll gettin’ any rain up your way?”), was named Top HollyWORDIE of 2007 in the annual survey by the Global Language Monitor.
Chigurh was named No. 26 in Entertainment Weekly magazine’s 2008 “50 Most Vile Villains in Movie History” list. Bardem’s life’s work was honored at the 2007 Gotham Awards, produced by Independent Feature Project.
Bardem at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011. Francis Ford Coppola singled out Bardem as an heir to, and even improvement on, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro, referring to Bardem as ambitious, hungry, unwilling to rest on his laurels and always “excited to do something good.”
Bardem was attached to play the role of Tetro’s mentor in Coppola’s film Tetro, but the director felt the character should be female, so he was replaced by fellow Spaniard Carmen Maura.
Bardem was originally cast to play fictional filmmaker Guido Contini in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine, but dropped out due to exhaustion.
The part eventually went to Daniel Day-Lewis. He went on to star alongside Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).
In 2010, he was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Biutiful directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who specifically wrote the film with Bardem in mind.
After being overlooked by the Globes and SAG, Bardem was the unexpected Oscar nominee on 25 January 2011, becoming the first all Spanish-language Best Actor nominee ever.
He won his 5th Goya Award, this time for Best Actor in Biutiful, dedicating the win to his wife, Penélope Cruz, and newborn son.
Around this same time he was offered the lead role of “Gunslinger” Roland Deschain in Ron Howard’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels.
If he had signed, he would have starred in the TV series as well. Then Eon Productions offered him a role as villain Raoul Silva in the James Bond film, Skyfall.
With Universal deciding not to go forward with the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series, and to end months of speculation, Bardem officially confirmed his role in Skyfall during an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC’s Nightline.
Bardem received the 2,484th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 8 November 2012. The star is located outside the El Capitan Theatre.
With his movie Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony (2012), he demonstrated the suffering of the Sahrawi people in refugee camps. He publicly denounced the UN as unwilling to definitively resolve the human crisis there.
Bardem portrayed the main antagonist, Armando Salazar, in 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth film in the series.
In September 2017, Bardem starred with Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris in the horror film Mother! from director Darren Aronofsky, which focuses on a couple whose lives are disrupted by the arrival of unexpected guests.
In 2018, Bardem appeared on screen together with his spouse Penélope Cruz in Asghar Farhadi new feature film Everybody Knows.
Bardem is set to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the 2019 remake of the Bride of Frankenstein, directed by Bill Condon.
In February 2019, Bardem was cast as Stilgar in the upcoming Denis Villeneuve film Dune.
Bardem has also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a BAFTA, five Goya Awards, two European Film Awards, a Prize for Best Actor at Cannes (ex-aequo with Elio Germano) and two Volpi Cups at Venice for his work.
He is the first Spanish actor to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Actor, 2000, for Before Night Falls), as well as the first Spaniard to win one, for Best Supporting Actor in No Country for Old Men, 2008.
He received his third Academy Award nomination, and second Best Actor nomination, for the film Beautiful.
As of January 2018, Bardem became an environmental activist with Greenpeace for protection of Antarctica.