Acting is among the most difficult jobs in Hollywood, and actors frequently end up being typecast into the same roles over and over. Whether you're known for being a gangster, a romantic, or an action star, many of the world's most famous actors have pigeonholed themselves into repeatedly playing the same re-skinned roles. However, among the few great acting talents who have proved that they are truly capable of taking on any role is Spanish-born #JavierBardem.
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His career started off slowly, even necessitating that he briefly become a stripper before his career took off, but he is now one of the most renowned actors in the world. His next role will see him as Captain Armando Salazar in the upcoming #PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMenTellNoTales, where he'll play the film's great antagonist, chasing down Jack Sparrow as he pursues the trident of Poseidon.
In celebration of his newest role, let's take a look back at the most powerful performances of his fruitful career.
1. 'Jamon, Jamon' (1992)
Released in 1992, Jamón, Jamón was 23-year old Bardem's breakout role. Prior to this film, his career had primarily been relegated to television appearances and a couple of minor film roles, but Bigas Luna took a shot on the youngster, and it paid off handsomely, laying the groundwork for much of what would make Bardem into a star.
The film centered on a love triangle where Bardem attempted to sabotage the wedding of a pair of young lovers, played by Penelope Cruz and Jordi Mollà. Bardem and Cruz carry the story through wordplay and eroticism, and it doesn't take long for Bardem to display the talents that made him into a young heartthrob early in his career. Bardem garnered plenty of critical acclaim for his first leading role too, earning his first of eight acting Goya nominations (the equivalent of the Oscars in Spain) for his role.
2. 'Boca A Boca' (1995)
Continuing in his early-career trend of taking on highly sexual roles, Bardem plays an aspiring actor who works for a phone sex line during at night in Boca a Boca. The film adopts a criminal twist though, as he ends up becoming more intimate with one of his clients who gets him wrapped into an assassination plot. Bardem shows off plenty of the physical sexuality that made him a star, but he also extends his reach, adding in some of his first action and deep drama.
3. 'Before Night Falls' (2000)
Though he had been a popular actor in Spain for nearly a decade by 2000, Bardem's role as Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls was the role that brought him his first significant international recognition. Bardem perfectly embodied the Cuban poet, spending nearly two months before filming working with Arenas's best friend in New York, learning the ways in which Arenas walked and talked. His nuanced performance of the homosexual Cuban showed a different type of sexuality for the actor, who was able to demonstrate something more nuanced and controlled than his early work with Bigas Luna that focused on a more eroticized, masculine love. Bardem walked away with his first Academy Award nomination, which was also the first for a Spaniard, and he's been a legitimate Hollywood star ever since.
4. 'Mar Adentro' (2004)
Mar Adentro is probably the darkest film on the list and Bardem's most thoroughly dramatic turn. The movie is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro, a man who became paraplegic following a diving accident and spent the remaining years of his life advocating for euthanasia. Bardem underwent an incredible physical transformation for the role, appearing practically unrecognizable, contrasting heavily with his early days that focused so firmly on sexuality. The heartbreaking role earned him all sorts of critical acclaim, including his second Golden Globe nomination, his seventh Goya nomination and fourth win.
5. 'No Country For Old Men' (2007)
The role Bardem is most well known for, in 2007 Bardem took the world by storm, terrifying audiences with his maniacally horrifying role as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Bardem won his first Academy Award for playing Chigurh, and for good reason. He took the role of what could have been a relatively generic or hammy hitman and turned him into one of the most menacing and memorable villains of all time. The Coen Brothers are some of the most popular and successful filmmakers of their generation, and Anton Chigurh is one of the greatest characters they've ever brought to the screen, thanks almost exclusively to the acting of Bardem.
6. 'Biutiful' (2010)
#Biutiful is Bardem's third and most recent Oscar-nominated performance, as he played the only role ever to earn a nomination for lead actor in which the character spoke exclusively Spanish. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Bardem plays a man who has seen his own death and must live his life anyways. It's a powerful film, and though it got a bit of a mixed reaction from critics, there were no bad words to be said about Bardem and his performance. He captures the torment of a man spread across too many walks of life, and he finds a way to balance the intimate drama with some of the more unusual happenings of the film.
7. 'Skyfall' (2012)
The most recent film on the list, #Skyfall is Bardem's most commercial film to date and the one that most closely resembles his upcoming performance in Dead Men Tell No Tales. In Skyfall, Bardem takes on the role of Raoul Silva, the dastardly man who confronts our familiar hero.
Bardem clearly had a ton of fun getting to be a slightly over-the-top bad guy, and it looks like he might be leaning into that same sort of persona even a bit harder in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Bardem lit up the screen as the villain for Bond, and more than any other role on this list, Skyfall acts as an indicator that Bardem is going to be one of the most fun parts of Dead Men Tell No Tales. I can't wait to see him when he's sailing the high seas in search of Captain Jack.
8. 'The Walking Dead'
Bardem unexpectedly took on the role of Negan at the end of Season 6 in The Walking Dead, and he has been absolutely killing it. No, wait a second. This might not be right.
Bardem has proved himself to be one of the most transformative actors alive today, with each of these roles displaying a different aspect of what makes Bardem such a compelling performer. He's taken on every challenge, from hitman to paraplegic to poet and everything in between. Bardem is almost certain to take Dead Men Tell No Tales to a higher level, and his work will be right back at the forefront of Hollywood with his next couple of projects too, when he stars in films directed by Asghar Farhadi and Darren Aronofsky.
Which of these Bardem performances do you think best showcases his acting abilities?