It takes balls to jump into a ring and face a bull. Bardem did just that. He has balls -- and we saw them when he faced a bull naked as he waved a red cape to taunt the bull. This light-hearted scene is in the 1992 Spanish comedy film, Jamón Jamón. This sexy hit feature was his first film. He could've easily coasted on his handsome face but he was serious about the craft of acting. He did not want to be pegged as what we might all "eye-candy." He would not settle for a "movie hunk" image.
After love scenes with new actress Penélope Cruz in Jamón, Jamón, he did the 1999 Spanish drama Segunda Piel (Second Skin). Two men fall in love. One of them is married and keeps his marriage a secret. This came out about five years before our Brokeback Mountain. The steamy man-to-man love scenes in Segunda Piel make the ones in Brokeback Mountain seem tame enough to air on the Disney Channel. And, I believe, this was an original feature for television. That's Spain for you.
Come 2007, we saw him in what's probably his most famous role with American audiences. He was the menace at loose in the world, the ruthless hit man in No Country For Old Men.
For director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Bardem starred in Biutiful.
If you missed that 2010 film, check it out. By the way...I was right. Biutiful brought Bardem an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.