Javier Bardem was that kid.
He was the pint-sized one sitting in those red velvet chairs with his feet dangling at the movie house in his town in Spain. Forget the kiddie fare. His mother, actress Pilar Bardem, wanted him to have an eclectic cinematic education.
“I remember when I was a boy of 6 and my mother snuck me into the movie theater to see ‘All That Jazz,’ ” Bardem, 49, recalled. “The woman next to us at the theater said, ‘This is not really a movie for kids.’ My actress mom said, ‘I need to bring this kid with me. He needs to see this movie.’ ”
“Imagine being 6 and watching that movie,” said the Oscar winner for “No Country for Old Men.” “I was like, ‘Wow! Singing! Dancing!’ It was showtime.”
It’s his face on the big screen these days in “Everybody Knows,” co-starring Bardem’s wife, Penelope Cruz. Bardem plays a vineyard owner and Cruz’s character brings her children to her hometown for his sister’s wedding celebration.
What is a great Sunday for you in Madrid?
Sunday is a beautiful day to relax and reflect. You just want to be. I also like to go to the movies. Movies feel like little miracles to me. The moviegoer in me sits in that seat thinking, “Yay! Yay! Yay!” Or I’m like, “Don’t do that! Don’t go in there!”
Tell us about “Everybody Knows.”
A happy event becomes something else when one night changes everything. I don’t want to say too much except I play Paco, a man who lives in this little village. He has a vineyard. He’s that man who is liked by his community — a generous, caring and not too complicated guy.
And then a girl is kidnapped.
When the kidnapping happens, all of these characters must face their own pasts. These are people who, like most humans, have fears, ghosts, desires, wishes and guilt. It all comes out during this time. The kidnapping is an excuse to put the humanity of these characters in front of their own faces. This movie is about human relationships and people who have to face their own truths. It’s about how they cope. It’s not easy, as we all know.
What was the challenge of this film?
Playing a great soul, which was wonderful to inhabit. Beautiful to play. He’s a great man, which to me is defined by his generosity and nice demeanor. It’s nice once in a while to play someone like that, without the dark twists and turns. It was a pleasure to give yourself to that energy for months, yet the drama still comes through.
What was it like working with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”)?
We have actually been talking with him for years about doing something. I love that he will tell you the truth and he makes you do more. He’s also very funny. I remember being in the movie theater watching “A Separation.” What a masterpiece! As an actor, when he calls you, you feel blessed and grateful. He’s brilliant. He’s an actor’s director. He actually spoke with Penelope first, then he called me. We looked at each other and knew there was no thinking about it twice.
What was it like to work with your wife?
A joy. There is a trust there. You know the person so well. Of course, it’s risky for any couple to make a movie together every year, but we don’t do that. We just gravitated toward this because the roles were amazing.
You grew up in an acting family. Was it natural to go into the business?
You could say that acting and telling stories is just in the blood. And then there were all the movies I would go see with my mother. I was blown away. I would go running around afterward doing spaceship scenes in my yard. I saw “Star Wars” and I wanted to be all the characters and the spaceship.
What was your dream growing up?
Once I became an actor, my goal was always to bring something to an audience. It’s a break from their lives. Maybe we make someone think about something that they wondered about in their lives. We bring it to life together — me on the screen and you watching.
What do you remember about Oscar night 2008 when you won?
It was a beautiful surprise. You never dream of getting an Oscar. I’m from Spain. It’s so far away from what I dreamed of when I was younger.
You’ve played roles from psychopaths to love interests. Do you enjoy mixing it up?
I do. It’s wonderful to explore different lives. You just have to put your judgments aside. It’s not me — you don’t want to portray yourself in every film. That is boring.
Was it fun being a Bond villain?
I remember doing a scene with Judi Dench and Daniel Craig. I looked across the set and I didn’t say my line. Our director said, “Cut, what’s wrong?” I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I just realized I’m in a James Bond movie with M and James Bond, who are both looking at me!”
You’re always on the lists of Hollywood sexiest men. Does that make you smile?
I look at myself in the mirror when I’m brushing my teeth and think, “Ugh, look at that nose! Look at those eyes!”
You have two children with Penelope (Luna, 5, Leo, 7). Do you ever bring work home?
We always separate it. We don’t take characters home. It’s helpful to know there is a division between fiction and reality.