"Man! It's hard to see yourself on the screen. There's not a single movie that I've done that I've liked," Bardem told reporters at the New York Film Festival where his new movie, "No Country for Old Men," was featured last week. "I can't watch it. Time has to pass" first.
"No Country," a Coen brothers' adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Texas thriller, is scheduled for release in theaters next month. Bardem co-stars with Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald.
The 38-year-old Spanish actor also has the lead role in "Love in the Time of Cholera," a screen adaptation of the epic love story by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Even so, Bardem, said it's nearly impossible for great fiction to become great film.
"No great work of literature exists - there could be, but I don't remember - that has been successfully transferred to film," he said. "It's impossible to equal the writer."
Still, he read Garcia Marquez's best-selling book five times during filming before setting it aside to bring his own thoughts to his role.
"There's a need to be respectful, but a moment comes when you have to jump ship, trust your own reading," he said. "After a month I said, `OK! That's enough!' I closed the book."
"Love," directed by Mike Newell and featuring Benjamin Bratt, Liev Schreiber and John Leguizamo among its international cast, was filmed in English - but that caused Bardem little grief.
"If the movie's good, it doesn't matter what language it's in," he said. "Language is a problem when the film doesn't work."