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Javier Bardem on how his late mother is more 'present' today than ever before

Bardem's mother passed away earlier this year.
/ Source: TODAY

Javier Bardem is an acclaimed actor with multiple awards under his belt — and he says it's all thanks to his mom.

Bardem sat down with Sunday TODAY's Willie Geist during this week's Sunday Sitdown. The men discussed how his mother Pilar Bardem's acting career influenced his own decision to work in the movie industry. His uncle was also an actor, and his grandparents were filmmakers.

"I guess it was in my DNA," Bardem said. In his first major film role, he appeared alongside his mother in the Spanish film "The Ages of Lulu."

Javier Bardem's mother, Pilar, congratulates him after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008. Gabriel Bouys / AFP via Getty Images

The "No Country for Old Men" actor, who started working in English-language movies in 2000, said that after his mother's death from lung disease in July, working in front of the camera makes him feel closer to her.

"It's amazing how present she is today, even more than it was before," Bardem said. "And before, let me tell you, (she) was very present. But now it's in every cell on my body and everything that I do to make her proud."

Bardem said that his mother taught him the joy of acting but also showed him that working in the arts industry could be a struggle.

Pilar Bardem, right, appears in the film "Las Melancolias" in 1971. Europa Press via Getty Images

"My parents divorced when I was very little, and being an actress with three kids, a single mother back in the '50s in Spain, it was very hard," Bardem said. "The way she was treated, it was like, horrible, so I saw a lot of downs, more than ups, in mother's career, until she had her moment when she was a very well-respected actress in theater and movies."

Some of his mother's advice sticks with him to this day.

"When I started to be an actor, she told me one thing: 'If you want to really become an actor, prepare yourself and be respectful to the craft and everybody involved with this craft, because it's sacred,'" Bardem recalled.

Javier Bardem and Pilar Bardem attend the Goya Cinema Awards in Madrid, Spain in 2016. Fotonoticias / WireImage

The actor, who was the first Spanish actor to ever win an Academy Award, told Geist that now he tries to balance being a performer with being a parent.

"For me, I've always said it, I have two weeks," Bardem explained. "After two weeks without seeing my family, I can't. I can't."

Even now, acting continues to be a family affair: Bardem and his wife, Penélope Cruz, met in 1992 while starring in the Spanish romantic comedy "Jamon-Jamon," and starred onscreen together in hit movies including "Loving Pablo." Bardem said that he looks forward to working with his wife again, even though the couple try to draw boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

"She's an amazing actress. She's very smart, very quick in getting the depth of the roles," Bardem said. "But at the same time, we have to be protective of what we are, which is most important, which is family and husband and wife."