Writer/director Asghar Farhadi hands us another powerful drama with Everybody Knows.

The Iranian filmmaker, who is best known for helming the excellent A Separation and The Salesman, tackles a new family dynamic – and a different culture – with Everybody Knows, centering on a family living in a small town outside of Madrid, Spain.

With her teenage daughter and young son in tow, Laura (Penelope Cruz) returns to her hometown for her sister’s wedding and reconnects with her family. Laura is also still good friends with her old flame, Paco (Javier Bardem), who is now married and runs the local winery. However, things turn dark when Laura’s daughter is kidnapped at the wedding. Distraught and desperate to meet the kidnappers’ ransom demands, Laura turns to Paco for support, which brings out some deep secrets from their past.

ScreenPicks had a chance to speak with Bardem about his role in the film and working with Farhadi. The actor also shares a little insight into playing the Frankenstein creature in The Bride of Frankenstein, being developed for Universal’s Dark Universe.

ScreenPicks: With Asghar Farhadi, he makes his movies so personal but also infuses them with serious consequences.

Javier Bardem: Well I think you’re right. I think he’s an expert on bringing to screen what artists might call soap opera/melodramatic situations but done it in a very, very sort of nice, deep, caring, human way. Because you look around yourself or within your own home, everything is a big fucking melodrama and we create that. We create that soap opera by the things that we say. The things that we hide. The thing that we reacted and that we react to and we hold that stuff in for many years. We relate to others by the cameras or by lying, by manipulating. He is a master of showing that on screen and how that affects very normal, regular people. On how that takes them to the very limits of themselves, as persons, as individuals. He knows about human nature and he really cares about that.

ScreenPicks: What was it like working with him?

Javier Bardem: He is a very smart, caring, loving, funny human being himself. And when you are near him, you feel this energy of being close to someone that is very special. He’s like a beam of light. He has a beam of light within himself. That is radiating through his eyes, his mouth, and his energy and his hands. I worship him as you can tell.

ScreenPicks: Was Farhadi familiar with the Spanish culture? Did you kind of show him the ropes?

Javier Bardem: He came [to Spain] for a whole year without us. He came here way before when we here because we were shooting Loving Pablo in Colombia and he came to stay. Then he took the time to come around and get some of his Spanish closer to what we were trying to portray. Once we got here, we only worked and by work I mean we sat down and talked a lot and discuss ideas. I was very impressed by the … not by the quality, by the quantity of the work he does on a daily basis. I mean he’s unstoppable. He told me that he shot The Salesman in 60 days, in Iran, 12 hours per day with no one day off. So he was not very happy that we were having weekends off here [laughs]. But we were laughing so much about the fact that he would shoot like nonstop, and he wouldn’t care. Like he really, but at the same time, of course when you hear that you go, “Oh f**k. He’s a freak. He’s an obsessive-compulsive.” He’s not. He’s a very sensitive, caring, nice, warm guy and he will never push you to a place that you don’t wanna go by yourself. But he works hard and he loves what he does and he really, really puts everything into it.

ScreenPicks: What were your feelings about your character Paco and what he goes through in Everybody Knows?

Javier Bardem: What [Farhadi] wrote and what he to share with the audience is the idea of a man that sacrifices everything based on a very inner core. He doesn’t know. Everybody knows but him. And either he doesn’t know because he doesn’t want to know or because he was never told. There are many questions raised and like life itself, some of it doesn’t have an easy answer. In the sense that he will sacrifice and lose everything that he is and he has in the name of what he understands as an act of love. It is. A love to him, well, a love to her, to the other one, to the little one and to the idea of what he thinks is right to do. And he has all the odds that others are reminding him. It’s a really nice, deep, beautiful spirit to inhabit for four months, especially after doing f**king Pablo Escobar.

ScreenPicks: So true and now you’re ready to play Frankenstein’s monster.

Javier Bardem: Which is again, a beautiful spirit to play as well. Because he’s like a baby born in a very deformed, destroyed, destructed body that is the thing that everybody sees or responds or reacts to first. I think the metaphor is one that makes him very sensitive and very lovable from all the creatures and the monsters because we wouldn’t care. We know there’s something very pure inside. That is not handled correctly by the people that are surrounding him or created him. I don’t know what’s gonna happen with the movie itself because as you know it comes and goes and I mean its beyond my control but the only thing I can say is I would love to play him, of course. Plus I have the right size of the f**king head!

Make sure to check out Bardem and Penelope Cruz in Everybody Knows, playing in theaters now.