Maybe now you know Bardem as the go-to-guy in Hollywood for playing villains with crazy hair, however as most European actors he got his start in the independent cinema. His first big break came with Jamon Jamon by Bigas Luna in 1992. The art house Spanish director has given Bardem his first small role in his previous movie The Ages of Lulu and decided to give him the male lead in Jamon Jamon. The film was awarded with the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. It gave the Spaniard actor the chance to be discovered by an international audience. He continued doing films in Spain, his 1995 film Boca a Boca was nominated for 7 Goya Awards and amongst them the award for best actor for Bardem which he won. His first Academy Award nomination came in 2000 for Julian Schnabel’s film Before Night Falls, a film based on the autobiography of Cuban writer and playwright Reinaldo Arenas.

sea insideHis first English role was in John Malkovich’s directorial debut The Dancer Upstairs in 2002. For him to star in this film he had to turn down a role in Spielberg’s Minority Report. However he wouldn’t regret it and he would say that he would be eternally grateful to Malkovich for giving him the chance to work in English. And the awards would keep on coming, this time it was for the Sea Inside (Mar Ardento) directed by his compatriot Alejandro Amenambar. The film follows the quadriplegic turned euthanasia activist Ramon Sampedro. His performance was awarded with the Goya for best actor as well as the Volpi Cup Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival.

When Bardem was asked, who are the American directors he would like to work with, he would always say the Coen Brothers, thinking it would never happen. For his delight as well as the public’s he worked with them in the Cormack Mccarthy film adaptation of No Country for Old Men in 2007. The film was an artistic and commercial success and Bardem’s horribly coiffed villain was awarded with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor . From then on he would be a household name in both sides of the Atlantic.

javier-bardem-skyfall-portbiutiful434-2-6bb7eHis streak with the weird looking villains continued with the latest James Bond movie Skyfall as well as the latest Ridley Scott film The Counselor. In between he would play and mock at the same time the cliché Spanish lover in Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and his haunting performance in Iniarritu’s Biutiful.

His talent has been praised by many of his famous colleagues such as Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino , the industry seems to be eager to nominate him in practically everything he’s in and the public just can’t get enough of his weird haired menacing characters. And even though he could sustain a very successful career as a character actor or a romantic leading man he always takes risks and tries to sink his teeth into different areas of the human psyche.

So if you think this is just another fairytale-like Hollywood story, you may be right but that doesn’t mean that the dream can`t come true for you. You can get your first magical experience at the ÉCU Film Festival by winning the Best Actor Award. Submit your films and your fairytale can begin here!

Ntaiana Kefalogianni

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