Javier Bardem: Examining the Renowned Actor’s Life & Career

A few Spanish actors in Hollywood have achieved the level of success Javier Bardem has in the past decades. His transition from Spanish film and television into Hollywood has seen him work with top actors and filmmakers in the industry. Although he made an appearance on television at age 5, his professional acting career began in the mid-1980s.

The four-time Academy Award-nominated actor continues to make, join, and break records with his stellar performances. As a leading man, Javier Bardem has worked with several directors who have won an Oscar for Best Director. Javier Bardem’s career has spanned over 35 years. For more about the actor, here are XX things you probably didn’t know about Javier Bardem.

Javier Bardem Comes From A Generation Of Actors

Javier Bardem and his mother Pilar Bardem

He was born Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain, on March 1, 1969. His mother was legendary Spanish actress Pilar Bardem, and his father, José Carlos Encinas Doussinague, was a successful businessman. From his maternal side, Bardem’s generations can be traced back to the early days of Spanish cinema. Javier Bardem’s maternal grandparents were Matilde Muñoz Sampedro and Rafael Bardem. Javier Bardem took his mother’s last name because she singlehandedly raised him after his parents separated shortly after his birth.

With the Bardem name being a famous last name in the Spanish entertainment industry, Javier Bardem also has popular and successful relatives. The late Spanish film director and screenwriter Juan Antonio Bardem was Javier Bardem’s maternal uncle. Born as the last child to his parents, Bardem has two older siblings, Carlos Bardem and Mónica Bardem, who are also actors.

He Was An Active Child

Raised by an actress mother, he spent a lot of time on movie sets and in theaters. Wanting to have an active role in Javier Bardem’s life, Pilar Bardem ensured to have him close to her as much as possible, irrespective of work or schedule. Although he starred as a child actor in El Pícaro (The Scoundrel), it never stopped Bardem from having a normal life as a kid. Javier Bardem found an immense passion for rugby and participated in the sport in school. As a skilled rugby player, Bardem joined the junior Spanish National Team and played several games for the team.

Javier Bardem’s Career Dream Was In Painting

Javier Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Although acting came naturally for Javier Bardem, it was a life he had known since he took his first step. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t enthused with the prospect of a professional acting career. At the time, his true passion and love was painting. He wasted no time pursuing his painting dreams and went on to study Painting at Escuela de Artes y oficios in Madrid.

However, he had to take on acting roles to support himself while trying to find his feet as a painter. Eventually, he decided he wasn’t as good a painter as an actor. While he was great as an actor, Javier Bardem struggled in his early days in the profession, landing roles he hated but had to take to make ends meet.

Javier Bardem’s Breakthrough Role Was With Before Night Falls

Javier Bardem in Before Night Falls

Although he struggled on television, hope came in film. He starred alongside his mother in the 1990 Spanish erotic drama Las edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu). While he was only cast in a minor supporting role as a gay man, Bigas Luna, the film’s director, was impressed by his performance. Bigas Luna gave Bardem the lead role in his next film, Jamón, jamón (Ham, Ham). Javier Bardem starred alongside Spanish actress Penélope Cruz in her film debut. 

Although Jamón, jamón significantly helped boost Javier Bardem’s profile, Julian Schnabel’s biographical drama Before Night Falls (2000) was Javier Bardem’s international breakthrough role. His performance as Reinaldo Arenas was so remarkable that American actor Al Pacino (Javier Bardem’s idol) called him to praise his acting. To effectively portray the character, Bardem lost 30 lbs to get in a smaller size like Reinaldo Arenas while also learning Cuban-Spanish and Cuban-accented English.

Javier Bardem Broke Records at the Academy Awards

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Unsurprisingly, Before Night Falls (2000) did not only gave him international recognition from critics, audiences, and colleagues, he brought him his first Academy Award nomination. Receiving an Oscar nomination made Javier Bardem the first Spanish actor to receive an Academy Award nomination. Bardem lost his nomination at the 73rd Academy Awards to Russell Crowe (for Gladiator). 

Seven years later, Javier Bardem was back at the Oscars with a second nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in No Country for Old Men (2007). Luckily, Bardem won his nomination this time at the 80th Academy Awards. Javier Bardem’s Academy Awards win in 2008 also made a new record at the Oscars as the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar. Javier Bardem’s next two Academy Awards nominations came in 2011 and 2022 for Best Actor in Biutiful (2010) and Being the Ricardos (2021).

He Has A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Javier Bardem joined the list of entertainers awarded a star by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Bardem was presented with the 2,484th star on November 8, 2012. Javier Bardem’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Star is located at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the El Capitan Theatre. He was honored in the Motion Picture category for his contribution to film.

Javier Bardem Is Married to Penélope Cruz

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in Everybody Knows

Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz first met while filming Jamón, jamón (1992). Although they had both played lead roles in the film, they neither acted on the attraction they felt for each other. However, they co-starred again in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy-drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), alongside Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall. It was during the filming of Vicky Cristina Barcelona that Bardem and Cruz began dating. 

However, they kept the relationship away from the public eye. Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz married in July 2010 in The Bahamas. The couple have been together since, welcoming their first child, Leo Encinas Cruz, on January 23, 2011. At 44, Javier Bardem welcomed his second child, daughter Luna Encinas Cruz, on July 22, 2013. If you enjoyed reading about Javier Bardem, check out Javier Bardem’s most iconic roles in movies.

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