Javier Bardem


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Bardem's talent did not go unnoticed in the English-speaking world. In 1997, John Malkovich was the first to approach him, then a 27-year-old, for a role in English, but the Spanish actor turned down the offer because his English was still poor. His first English-speaking role came that same year, in with director Álex de la Iglesia's Perdita Durango, playing a santería-practicing bank robber. After starring in about two dozen films in his native country, he gained international recognition in Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls in 2000, portraying Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. He received praise from his idol Al Pacino; the message Pacino left on Bardem's answering machine was something he considers one of the most beautiful gifts he has ever received. For that role, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the first for a Spaniard. Immediately after, he turned down the role of Danny Witwer in Minority Report which eventually went to Colin Farrell. Instead, in 2002, Bardem starred in Malkovich's directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Malkovich originally had Bardem in mind for the role of the detective's assistant, but the movie's taking so long to obtain financing gave Bardem time to learn English and take on the lead role of the detective. "I will always be grateful to him because he really gave me my very first chance to work in English", has said Bardem of Malkovich.