Javier Bardem, the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar, is being hailed as a hero in his homeland. "Bardem makes history", blazed El Pais yesterday. It said his achievement marked not just a personal triumph but a turning point in Spanish cinema.
Sunday's award for best supporting actor marked the climax of a year in which the craggily beautiful actor, 39, won more than a dozen prizes, including the Golden Globes and the Bafta, for his performance as the icy psychopath in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men. Bardem's Oscar-winning speech contained a flourish in Spanish that paid tribute to his mother, his grandparents, his fellow actors and Spain.
His family is famed for its generations of theatrical giants, and his mother Pilar, an admired actress, is a left-wing activist and campaigner against the war in Iraq.