The Tragic True Story of Javier Bardem
The following article contains mentions of suicide.
Javier Bardem’s stardom belongs to no one but himself. When he won the Oscar in 2007 for Best Supporting Actor after playing the deadly Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”, he admitted he was stunned. When asked by the guard if the win gave him a sense of security in 2021, his answer was telling. “No! No, no, no, no! When I won the Oscar I felt great, but it didn’t make sense,” Bardem replied. “It was more like, ‘Wow, what’s this? I need to earn this now so they don’t take it off my hands!'”
Bardem’s status as a Hollywood sex symbol is equally puzzling to him. “I don’t see this heartbreaking thing at all,” he told the… Independent† While Bardem may remain confused about why he’s so desirable both as a hunk and as an actor, the rest of us know what’s going on. The Spanish Star broke into the American film world thanks to hits like “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Eat Pray Love” by Woody Allen, but he never aspired to be an actor. In fact, Bardem . told NPR that his dream was to become a painter and that he only took on acting roles to pay the bills. “But little by little I got into the movie doing some extra work so I could get some money and keep painting. One day they offered me these few lines and… I did it and I felt great.” I had the feeling… I belong here.”
But the road wasn’t always easy for Javier Bardem.
Javier Bardem’s family had a hard time financially
Javier Bardem grew up in the Canary Islands, an archipelago of Spain off the coast of Africa, per Hello! magazine. His father, José Carlos Encinas, left his mother, Spanish actor Pilar Bardem, when Javier was a child. Raising her children alone and at the same time being called to acting, he understood that a life in the cinema could lead to financial problems. “I saw it from the inside, I knew how hard it was,” Bardem said of acting to… the guard† But showbiz ran in his family – in addition to his uncle, director, Juan Antonio Bardem, the grandparents of the future star also got into the acting game. Still, it was tight for the Bardems.
The financial struggle and the abandonment of his father made their family extremely close. “My parents split up when I was little, but we were so close – my mom, my brother and my sister,” said Javier. GQ in 2017. “We were like a pack of wolves. We would attack anyone we thought was a threat.” He noted that his single mother had to “make money where she could,” and there’s definitely a bond there. In an interview with the IndependentBardem fondly referred to them as a “family of crazy people.”
His mother continued to work all her life and came full circle in the 1987 film “Live Flesh”, when she played Penélope Cruz’s mother, and Javier also in the film. Javier later married Cruz, making it seem like the cinema world is a lot smaller than it actually is.
His troubled relationship with his father
When Javier Bardem’s father, José Carlos Encinas, left his mother, he created a vacancy that would influence the actor for the rest of his life. His mother had to take care of the family alone and take on the financial responsibilities, which meant that Bardem was often unsupervised. “As a child I was left to my own devices,” he said GQ† “My father was absent. I didn’t have a dominant male figure to look up to. This isn’t a complaint, it’s a fact. It meant testing myself. I had to push my own limits. It meant making mistakes.”
In 1995, a 25-year-old Bardem lost his father, and the actor admitted that The Telegraph in 2011 that he missed the chance to have a real conversation with Encinas, to hear him and forgive him before he died. “I always say I wasn’t the man I wanted to be when my father died,” said Bardem, who admitted he didn’t yet have the maturity to connect with his father in a non-judgmental way.
But his father’s death caused a religious shift for Bardem. Although he is an atheist, his Catholic roots came back in a powerful way when he lost his father. “I wasn’t a very committed Catholic before, but when that happened, it all suddenly felt so natural: I now believe that religion is our attempt to find an explanation; to feel more protected,” he told the newspaper. Independent† It didn’t make him religious, but it did bring a spiritual softening that he carried with him.
Javier Bardem’s struggle as an actor
Breaking into the acting world was no easy feat for Javier Bardem, and once he hit Hollywood, the sense of isolation didn’t go away. His perceived language barrier meant he always felt like an odd man out and imposter syndrome meant he never believed he could take on a role well. “When I first saw the film, I almost killed myself,” he said The New York Times about 2000’s “Before Night Falls,” a film about gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, who died by suicide amid an AIDS-related illness in 1990. “…I look at myself, and I see a Spaniard trying to are understood by an English-speaking audience and put a lot of effort into it, rather than expressing themselves freely and feeling comfortable.”
The sense of loneliness was no different when Bardem played Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers’ “No Country For Old Men,” compounded by the language and cultural differences. “I felt isolated for many reasons,” Bardem . said The Telegraph† “I was the only foreign man on the whole set, and it’s hard to be in deep Texas for a Spaniard.” But Bardem’s saving grace in all of this was his mother and her message to him about what it meant to be an actor. He told The Telegraph that she had warned him never to buy any of it: the fame or the criticism. Instead, she saw it as a right and a privilege to work as an artist, and that was enough.
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Violence in his past made the actor wary
For whatever reason, Javier Bardem has a long history as the villain. He played James Bond’s nemesis Raoul Silva in the 2012 film “Skyfall” with pale blond hair and a coolness that gave viewers the creeps. Perhaps his most famous role, and the one for which he won an Oscar, was the role of Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country for Old Men’, where he is a calm and ruthless killer with a certain sense of morality that somehow contributes to his ruthlessness.
Despite the violence Bardem displays through his characters, the actor is vehemently opposed to any kind of brutality in real life. When he was young, Bardem sat in a bar and got into such a fierce fight that he almost died. “If it hadn’t been for my friends, those guys would have killed me,” Bardem said GQ† “It brought home a sense of mortality for me. I learned about respect, about keeping my boundaries, about keeping my mouth shut sometimes, about friendship and about how violence always comes back to you.”
The brutal fight also had long lasting consequences for the actor, and he now takes an extreme stance against any kind of cruelty. “From that moment on, I couldn’t stand violence,” he added. ‘I still can’t look at it. I can not bear.’ Bardem emphasized this again during a conversation with the guardsaying that violence never does any good. So how does he justify this with acting? Bardem says it just makes characters; real life and family life are what counts.
Javier Bardem has spoken about his mother’s death
In July 2021, Javier Bardem’s mother, Pilar Bardem, died of lung disease in Madrid. Deadline reported at age 82. Javier’s wife, Penélope Cruz, shared a touching tribute to her mother-in-law Instagram† “You were always so good to me,” Cruz wrote in part (as translated by Deadline). “I could not have dreamed of a better mother-in-law. Thank you for all the love you have given us, your children, grandchildren, family and friends.”
His mother’s legacy continues to influence Javier, even as an actor, as she also knew the terrain, and he still relies on his mother for guidance. “Every decision I make now, I think, ‘Would this make my mom proud?’ And if not, I immediately reject it,” Javier told the guard that Dec. “That’s a powerful legacy to leave behind, but she was a very powerful person.”
The reason Javier still relies on his mother for her creative inspiration is because he knew how hard she had to work to become an actor, especially as a woman and single parent in Spain. The dedication to the art form also came with stigma at the time. “In 1960s Spain, it was a really tough time being a woman, especially divorced with three kids and an actress,” Javier told The Guardian. “You were called a prostitute.” So if his mother could remain committed to acting despite these hurdles, Javier knew he had no excuse and used the art as a legacy in her memory.
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