Some actors “find” their characters through research. Others use clothing to transform themselves. For others still it’s in the voice or accent. For Javier Bardem, it’s all about the hair. Or, more precisely, the bad hair.
Though well coiffed in real life, Bardem’s penchant for bowl cuts, dye jobs and other follicular missteps in front of the camera goes back way before The Counselor, which hits theaters on Friday, and even pre-dates his Oscar-winning turn in No Country for Old Men. These are his 10 craziest (on-screen) hair moments.
In most movies, Bardem could pull this tousled style off with relative ease. But when he’s playing a priest, as he does in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, the look creates a too-casual discord with that collar. Even if he is playing a priest who is wrestling with his faith.
It’s not so much the hair that’s crazy in John Malkovich’s The Dancer Upstairs. It’s more the cut and facial hair combo, which makes Bardem—who was just 33 years old when he played Detective Agustín Rejas—look twice his actual age.
Bardem really only needed to give his No Country for Old Men bob a curtain part to play Florentino Ariza, romantic rival to Benjamin Bratt, in Mike Newell’s adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s epic novel of the same name.
Bardem is barely recognizable as Felix, a crime lord with a buzz cut, in Michael Mann’s Collateral. Then again, Bardem wasn’t a well-known actor at the time, despite being nominated for an Oscar three years earlier. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-him role actually marked Bardem’s Hollywood movie debut.
Bardem donned a mop top to play Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls—a role that earned the actor his first Oscar nomination. The best thing we can say about this look is that at least he’s got Johnny Depp beat!
Mixing elements of historic fact with fiction, the easiest explanation for Bardem’s wig-like mess in this Milos Forman film is that it’s a period piece set in the late 18th-century. A quick look at his male co-stars—including Stellan Skarsgård and Randy Quaid—shows that they didn’t make out much better in the deal. Hell, even Natalie Portman could use with a quick blow-out.
Throughout much of Alejandro Amenábar’s Oscar-winning movie, Bardem’s locks are longish and luscious. But through illness and the aging process, he ends up a bald old man by the end of this moving biopic based on the life of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic who waged a 30-year battle against the courts in Spain for the right to die with dignity.
Bardem went back to the hairstylist’s chair to play fun-loving drug lord Reiner in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, his second run at bringing celluloid life to a Cormac McCarthy character (the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist wrote the screenplay). But if Bardem ever wants to work with Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer, he’ll keep all negative comments about this do to himself: at CineEurope, Scott admitted that the style was inspired by Grazer’s signature spikes.
Bardem—playing Raoul Silva, a psychotic cyber-terrorist intent on taking down James Bond in Skyfall—may just be the franchise’s all-time best villain. That’s largely due to Bardem’s keen ability to mix a genuinely frightening edge with the fun, cartoonish elements of old-school Bond villains (think Goldfinger meets Hannibal Lecter). He’s aided in his endeavor to intimidate with a bleached-blonde dye job that would have made late-’80s Madonna jealous.
Unflattering in every way, Bardem himself once declared the bowl cut he sported as air tank-toting sociopath Anton Chigurh “the worst haircut I’ve ever had,” noting that the only way Joel and Ethan Coen could repay him for the months he spent having to live with the style (it was indeed his real hair, not a wig) would be to cast him in their next movie.