Javier Bardem is the youngest member of a family of actors that has been making films since the early days of Spanish cinema. He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to actress Pilar Bardem (María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz) and businessman José Carlos Encinas Doussinague. His maternal grandparents were actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro, and his uncle is screenwriter Juan Antonio Bardem. He got his start in the family business, at age six, when he appeared in his first feature, "El picaro" (1974) (A.K.A. The Scoundrel). During his teenage years, he acted in several TV series, played rugby for the Spanish National Team, and toured the country with an independent theatrical group. Javier's early film role as a sexy stud in the black comedy, Prosciutto prosciutto (1992) (aka Ham Ham) propelled him to instant popularity and threatened to typecast him as nothing more than a brawny sex symbol. Determined to avert a beefcake image, he refused similar subsequent roles and has gone on to win acclaim for his ability to appear almost unrecognizable from film to film. With over 25 movies and numerous awards under his belt, it is Javier's stirring, passionate performance as the persecuted Cuban writer, Reynaldo Arenas, in Prima che sia notte (2000) that will long be remembered as his breakthrough role. He received five Best Actor awards and a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal.