When I found out Javier Bardem had married Penelope Cruz, I was heartbroken. When she gave birth to their son, Leo, though, I resigned myself to the idea that he would never leave her for me. Still, I continue to follow his film career because I can’t help myself.

Although he was extraordinary in The Sea Inside and in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I think his best film so far was Biutiful, in which he plays the dying Uxbal and for which he received a 2011 Oscar nomination. There are few actors who can ennoble suffering the way he does, and there are few who can embody sociopathy like he can.

In No Country for Old Men, for instance, he won an Academy Award for his role as the diabolical Anton Chigurgh. In the new James Bond film, Skyfall, he is equally chilling as Raoul Silva, the bleached-blonde cyberterrorist at the center of the movie. Unlike the villains in other Bond movies, though, Silva is multidimensional, and Bardem’s performance is nuanced and infused with the kind of suffering he has brought to his other roles.

As I think about Bardem’s movies, I can’t help but reflect on what it means, and what it looks like, to take creative risks. It’s got me thinking about my writing…and about playing it safe. Or not.


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