Javier Bardem faced down acting demons in "Biutiful"

Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:09am EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fans of Javier Bardem who think he can perform no better than in his Oscar-winning turn as a hitman in "No Country for Old Men," can now think again.

This week, his drama "Biutiful" lands in U.S. theaters after playing overseas and earning the Spaniard a share of the best actor award at May's Cannes film festival.

Bardem told Reuters the role of a man, Uxbal, who is nearing death and coming to terms with his own life and legacy, was among the most rewarding parts he had ever played and one that pushed his talent beyond its previous limitations.

That is saying a lot for the actor who has worked with the likes of Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Julian Schnabel and for "Biutiful," Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

"It's been rewarding in the sense of putting yourself in front of a mirror where you face your limits and have to deal with them," Bardem said. "This is, by far, the professional experience that has helped me the most when thinking about my craft, about my job, about my responsibilities" as an actor.

Bardem, 41, first gained notoriety in his home country on television and later in Almodovar films such as "High Heels" and "Jamon Jamon." His turn as jailed Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in Schnabel's "Before Night Falls" earned him his first Oscar nomination and made Bardem one of the few Spanish-language actors to break into Hollywood's ranks.

By the time he played a temperamental painter in Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," in which he starred alongside his wife Penelope Cruz, Bardem was a bona fide A-list star.

But "Biutiful" was no walk in the park for recognizable name who could claim just about any role he wanted.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Javier Bardem arrives at the premiere of his and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film "Biutiful" in Los Angeles December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>