Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor who won an Oscar and established himself as a Hollywood icon, has recently discussed his portrayal of the Cuban Icon and I Love Lucy star, Desi Arnaz.
Bardem, who recently played alongside Nicole Kidman in the biographical film, Being The Ricardos, is well-versed in the mechanisms of fame in the entertainment industry.
After winning an Oscar for his role as Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers’ adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country for Old Men, Bardem has been celebrated as one of the most remarkable actors from Spain.
Describing Academy-Award-Winning Actress Penélope Cruz solely as ‘Javier Bardem’s Wife’ undermines the star’s extensive and thriving career.
Who Is Javier Bardem?
Bardem was born in the Canary Islands in Spain, to Spanish actress Pilar Bardem. His father, José Carlos Encinas Douissinague was the son of a cattle rancher.
Douissinage was impulsive and violent, and his frequent job changes left his three children hungry for most of their early lives. The two separated shortly after Bardem’s birth, leaving his mother to raise the children on her own.
Bardem is part of a Spanish filmmaking dynasty dating back to the earliest days of Spanish cinema. He is the grandson of acting legends Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro. His uncle was the screenwriter and director Juan Antonio Bardem, who was imprisoned by the Francoist regime for advocating anti-Fascism in his films.
Having spent his youth on movie sets and stages, it was only natural that Bardem wanted to join the family trade.
His first role in a major motion picture was when he appeared alongside his mother in The Ages of Lulu when he was 21.
After a series of supporting roles, the director of Lulu, Bigas Luna, offered him one of the main roles in 1992’s Jamón Jamón. The movie was a major success, propelling Bardem into stardom.
His talent was noticed by American and English filmmakers, who frequently offered Bardem roles in various films. Initially, he declined these offers as he felt he was not proficient enough to act in English.
His premiere English-speaking role was in 1997 when he starred in Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango as a bank robber.
Bardem’s breakthrough in Hollywood came with his role in Before Night Falls, where he portrayed Cuban Poet Reinaldo Arenas and was the first Spanish actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
The pinnacle of his early career was the validation he received from idol Al Pacino and was swiftly lauded by Francis Ford Coppolla and John Malkovitch as well.
In 2007 it was disclosed that he was in a relationship with his Jamón Jamón co-star Penélope Cruz.
Who is Penélope Cruz?
Actress Penélope Cruz made her film debut in Jamón Jamón in 1992, taking on the role of Silvia, a young pregnant woman who becomes entangled in a series of romantic affairs.
The film was a triumph, and Cruz was commended for her captivating acting abilities. Many critics observed that her physical allure was a draw for audiences, but Cruz has stated she chose to star in the film for its narrative, not to flaunt her physical attributes.
Her subsequent roles after Silvia showcased her versatility, and audiences noticed that Cruz could adeptly adapt her acting style to suit any given role.
Her triumph in Hollywood is credited to her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008. The film cast her alongside then-partner Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson.
In the movie, Cruz assumes the character of María Elena, Bardem’s character’s neurotic ex-wife who is envious of his relationship with the American tourists.
The role earned her international recognition, including a Goya Awards, a BAFTA, and her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
To date, she is the only Spanish actress ever to win an Academy Award and the sixth Hispanic entertainment figure to achieve this.
About Their Marriage
Bardem and Cruz tied the knot in July 2010, after three years of courtship.
They wed in a private ceremony at a friend’s home in the Bahamas.
Their children, Leo Encinas Cruz and Luna Encinas Cruz, were born in 2011 and 2013.
The couple chooses to keep their personal life private, often avoiding the subject in various interviews.
Cruz and Bardem have collaborated on several projects since Vicky Cristina Barcelona, including The Counselor in 2013 and Everybody Knows five years later.
Cruz’s Career Tribute
Bardem has been highly supportive of his wife’s career, often citing her as one of his all-time favorite actresses.
On December 14, Cruz was honored with a tribute at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual film benefit in New York City. The event raises funds to ensure that cinema continues to be part of the MoMA’s vast collection.
Cruz’s tribute featured Pedo Almodóvar, Lupita Nyong’o, Rebecca Hall and singer Rosalía.
She told The Hollywood Reporter that she sees the museum’s conservation work as integral to cinematic history, saying:
“Many generations after us wouldn’t be able to enjoy the work of many geniuses, of many brilliant films. Unless [the MoMa does] that, it would, at some point, get lost.”
When asked about how she hoped future audiences would view her and her work, the actress replied with “I would want to be remembered as someone who attempted to keep learning every day and never became too complacent about it.”
In her address, she acknowledged the ever-evolving nature of the Hollywood machine and how she has had to adapt to keep up with audience demands as a performer.
Addressing the impact the pandemic has had on the film industry, she discussed the new advancements streaming sites have introduced to the industry, saying:
“It’s a very intriguing time for film and filmmakers, and for audiences. With so many distribution platforms, and devices on which to watch, access to film is ubiquitous. We all have the capability to carry a cinema in our hand and to watch films wherever we go,” adding that “the last few years have taken their toll on film productions. Some shutdown. Theaters closed. Cinema is changing. And we all wonder what the future of cinema looks like.”