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Why Captain Salazar From Pirates Of The Caribbean Looks So Familiar

The Pirates of the Caribbean series has a tendency to make its characters hard to recognize. Whether it's the tentacled beard of Davy Jones or the skeletal specter of the unkillable Barbosa, the series has become a playground for great actors to dress up in fantastic costumes and chomp on the nautical scenery. So if you can't quite put your finger on who's behind new villain Armando Salazar's messed-up mug, don't worry—you're not alone. 

The Pirates series' newest baddie is played by none other than Javier Bardem. A 48-year-old actor and lifelong resident of Spain, Bardem is the first Spanish actor to have been nominated for an Academy Award, as well as the first Best Actor contender to be nominated for a role performed entirely in the Spanish language. He's an actor of great range well worth getting acquainted with, so while we prepare to see what Bardem has in store for us in Disney's big-budget blockbuster on the open sea, let's have a look back at some of the most recognizable roles from his career. You may be surprised by where you've seen him.

Before Night Falls

Released in 2000, Before Night Falls is the movie that announced then 31-year-old Bardem's arrival on the international scene, following ten years and more than two dozen films in his native Spain. Playing the Cuban expat author Reinaldo Arenas, Bardem embodies the poet with startling sensitivity and grace in a story that spans his entire life, from growing up exploring his sexuality in Cuba playing opposite a gender-bending Johnny Depp, to living out his last days in New York City as a casualty of the AIDS epidemic. It's one of Bardem's best performances, a perfect melding of screenwriting and performance that allows him to flex his full range—never self-conscious, never showy, disappearing into another skin like a chameleon, as all great actors do.

No Country for Old Men

Bardem's turn as the monstrous Anton Chigurh is arguably the role that made him famous. A menacing, otherworldly force of nature, the character was one of the most memorable parts of this Best Picture-winning Coen Brothers masterpiece—and Bardem imbued the role with great humor, eliciting guilty chuckles from audiences even though his only purpose in the story is to kill. To say his performance earned rave reviews is an understatement; the Academy Award for best supporting actor is only the most notable of the honors he earned for his work. And no one—but no one—will ever be able to make that awful pageboy hairstyle work the way Bardem pulls it off here.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

In this 2008 Woody Allen dramedy, Bardem stars opposite Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johannson and Penélope Cruz as Juan Antonio, an alluring Spanish artist. The human embodiment of the word seduction, Bardem takes scenes like a brazenly forward proposition of a three-way tryst and elevates them into something weirdly suave. (The accent does at least 33% of the work, admittedly.) 

As with a lot of latter-day Allen, your mileage may vary—the dialogue runs like clockwork, but everybody still sounds like the same guy's voice, so you're either on board or you're not. In any case, Bardem effortlessly wrings every last drop of charm out of a character that could easily come across as dislikable and absurd, and when he asks the two protagonists to join him on a plane trip for a weekend in a far-flung Spanish city, it's hard not to want to join them for the ride.


The fourth theatrical release from acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Biutiful follows the last days of a dying single father as he works to ensure a future for his children following a terminal cancer diagnosis. It's a brutal emotional ride, but Bardem shoulders the burden with practiced ease. It's the kind of role that could come off as overwrought in less capable hands, especially as the story progresses and the tragedies mount up—Bardem's protagonist, Uxbal, tries his best, but almost nothing goes according to plan. It's both a unique and a universal story, with something everybody can relate to—impending death—infused with elements of magical realism in Uxbal's ability to talk to the dead. 

While some may have difficulty connecting with more contrived aspects of the story, Bardem's performance is unambiguously incredible. He carries the movie, single-handedly elevating what could've been an overly grim slog into something special.

Eat Pray Love

Bardem brought a dash of class to 2010's Eat Pray Love, the Julia Roberts-led critical dud also known as your mom's favorite movie that year. Starring opposite Roberts' Liz Gilbert, Bardem plays Felipe, a Brazilian businessman who becomes her lover at the tail end of her soul-searching journey around the world. Despite being based on a true story, it's a cliché-addled role, with Bardem made to mine real emotion out of lines few human beings would really say, like "Do you love me, or do you love me not?" But we'll give the movie this: if you absolutely, 100% have to get someone to fill the role of Wise and Dashing Foreigner, getting Javier Bardem on board is a casting slam dunk.


Making his entrance to the James Bond series with aplomb, Bardem went toe-to-toe with Daniel Craig's 007, playing the most captivating villain the series had seen in decades. A cruel madman with flair who stands out even in the pantheon of Bond villains, Bardem's Silva had it all—a helicopter fleet, an island lair, and even his own entrance music, like a WWE superstar. 

The fact that the following film saw Bond's famous nemesis Blofeld return to considerably less acclaim goes to show that all you need to make an impression is a good character and a great performance, not just a recognizable name. Bardem's Silva will likely go down with the likes of Jaws and Scaramanga in the canon of great Bond villains; in an installment critics agree is among the series' best, he's one of the highlights, and it's hard to imagine the film without him.

The Counselor

Bardem returned to material penned by No Country for Old Men author Cormac McCarthy with this rare screenplay from the acclaimed American writer. Though The Counselor is a weird watch by any metric, Bardem works—McCarthy's bleak tone and literary writing fit the actor like a glove. So what if the rest of the movie is bugnuts insane? 

Playing Reiner, a spiky-haired Versace-clad scumbag who knows a thing or two about the darkest corners of the underworld along the Texas-Mexico border, Bardem notably had a part in the movie's most memorable scene, during which Cameron Diaz' Malkina performs a sex act in a full split on the windshield of Reiner's Ferrari. It's the sort of thing you've literally never seen before, but Bardem's wide-eyed performance watching this display is almost enough to make the whole movie worthwhile.

The Gunman

It's Sean Penn versus the world in this Taken-esque "old-mercenary-goes-H.A.M.-on-his-enemies" international action thriller. Or at least, that's what The Gunman is sold as—in practice, the movie's way too slow, languid, and action-light to live up to its peers in the genre. From the Congo around the world to Spain, Penn plays an expert sniper assassin, and Bardem plays his foil, an old teammate turned enemy. Bardem feels miscast as a high-powered, lowlife businessman and exposition engine, but he does get to have some fun in his scenes as a drunken lush. Bombing critically and commercially, it's a movie without many defenders, but if you're hungover watching cable on a Sunday, you could do a lot worse.