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Why Javier Bardem can’t watch himself on screen

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Javier Bardem on the cover of GQ's October issue. Nathaniel Goldberg/GQ

Javier Bardem may be a critically acclaimed film actor, who can scare audiences as a deranged killer in "No Country for Old Men" and then charm them as the guy who sweeps Julia Roberts off her feet in "Eat Pray Love," but don't expect to see Bardem himself standing in the ticket line to see one of his flicks. "The fact that I like to make characters doesn't mean that I like to watch my characters being made, my performance," he confesses to GQ. "I can't even watch that f***ing nose, that f***ing voice, those ridiculous eyes. I can't handle that. But when I'm doing it, I don't see my nose or hear my voice; it's like there's something stronger, bigger than that. And I need to express it."

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For those hoping the 43-year-old might spill some scoop about his marriage to sex symbol and fellow Spaniard Penelope Cruz or their 20-month-old son, Leonardo, in the magazine's October issue, well, you're out of luck. He does, however, share stories about his childhood in Spain, where he was raised by a single mother and hailed from a family of thespians who were looked down upon because of their craft. "My grandparents were actors in a time when actors weren't allowed to be buried on sacred ground because they were considered heretics and homosexuals," he explains. "My mother, who's acted all my life, was called a prostitute. I saw street fascists chase and threaten her when I was a kid."

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Nathaniel Goldberg/GQ

While Bardem may seem like a pretty manly man, he insists that he hasn't been afraid to explored his feminine, more emotional side. "When I was born, there was a very isolated idea of what it meant to be a man or a woman, and you belonged to one gender or the other," the Oscar winner says. "I was raised not to be afraid to show emotion or imagination.... I have a man and a woman in the same body; I have the male and female values in the same body. 'Be a man' — what do you mean by that?"

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Today, Bardem is still heeding advice his mother gave him when it comes to his career. "It's the actor's insecurity: One day you're liked and the next it's ah, nah, not that guy. My mom told me, 'Just keep doing your job.' You get something gold, thank you. You suck, thank you. You keep on moving."

In the interview, Bardem also touches on the fact he's an atheist, an admission few in the public spotlight tend to make. But don't worry, he has his own higher power. "I've always said I don't believe in God," says Bardem. "I believe in Al Pacino."

The October issue of GQ is on newsstands now.

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