Javier Bardem's 5 Steps to Cinema Godliness

Javier Bardem is the definition of a cinema king! The Oscar-winning Spaniard has become an undeniably versatile, utterly engaging onscreen presence. Here’s how he gets the job done:

1. javier slide 01 Before Night Falls

Be persistent

Bardem comes from a family of actors dating back to the early days of Spanish cinema. He landed his first role at the age of 6, but it took almost 20 years for him to really break out with Jamón, jamón. Another decade would pass before he made his mark in American films with his Best Actor–nominated performance in Before Night Falls, in which he played Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas fighting against the antihomosexual repression of the Castro regime.

2. javier slide 02 No Country for Old Men

Be creative with your coif

Bardem is many things, but afraid to change his look he is not! He likes to get creative, to say the least, with his hairdos. From his sinister bowl cut in No Country for Old Men to his bleach-blond weirdness in Skyfall to the savage bald spot in The Sea Inside, Bardem clearly understands the power of a “look.” Expect no less in The Counselor, out now, with Bardem (playing a Mexican drug lord) sporting a full head of crazy, tweaked-out spikes. Hey, the hair makes the man!

3. javier slide 03 Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Be sexy

Who can forget all the trouble Bardem stirred up in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona? First, he earnestly offers up a threesome to Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall that basically turns their innocent Spanish vacation on its head. Once Penélope Cruz (now Bardem’s real-life wife) was added to the mix, the sexual chemistry was off the wall. Any man willing to juggle, not one, not two, but three women (and willingly!) is a certified badass in our book. It also doesn’t hurt that he could probably burn down a building with his chiseled not-pretty looks and sexy voice and accent.

4. javier slide 04 Jamon, Jamon

Be versatile

After landing a role in the early ’90s hit Jamón, jamón, he was catapulted into the spotlight as a steamy Spanish sex symbol. After that, Bardem refused any new role that cast him as a sexy stud—just so that he wouldn’t be typecast. With three Oscar nods—and a win for best supporting actor in 2007 (No Country)—it’s clear the strategy worked. Now Bardem is often praised for his ability to disappear into a character.

5. javier slide 05 The Sea Inside

Be brave

Javier Bardem fears nothing, apparently. He’s willing to tackle bowl cuts, homosexual sex scenes (hello, Before Night Falls!) and roles that require him to age and confine him to a bed (The Sea Inside). He did play rugby—the full-contact, no-pads, no-helmet British version of football—as a teenager, so his bravura doesn’t come as a complete shock.