In his new film Scorpion in Love, Spanish actor Alex Gonzalez got to share the screen with his lifelong idol Javier Bardem.
Best known to Australian audiences as Riptide in X-Men: First Class, Gonzalez grew up watching Bardem's films and started acting when he was 18 years old.
"Two years later I went to the cinema to watch a movie called Before Night Falls," Gonzalez says during his trip to Australia for the 17th Spanish Film Festival.
"I remember that I was sitting on the chair, watching the movie and thinking, if some day I could reach just one per cent of what he's doing in this movie, I would be so happy.
"So the next day I went to the school where he studied, joined and studied there for five years."
So years later, when Gonzalez found himself standing opposite Bardem on the set of Scorpion in Love, it was quite surreal.
"When I was working with him, for me, it was a dream," he says.
Gonzalez stars in Scorpion in Love as Julian, a young man who's part of a violent neo-Nazi group led by Bardem's character Solis.
It's based on a novel written by Javier's brother Carlos, who also stars in the film as Carlomonte, a boxing trainer who takes Julian under his wing and starts to help him change for the better.
Scorpion in Love and another of Gonzalez's films, Combustion, are playing at the 17th Spanish Film Festival around Australia this April and May and he will be taking part in Q&A sessions in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
Gonzalez says the two films are completely different.
Six years ago, he bought the novel Scorpion in Love. He initially thought Julian would be cool to play, because he was a boxer and a skinhead.
When he landed the part and really started working with the character, that changed.
"I wanted to do it because it was very interesting for me to investigate such a different person to me and another ideology and also I wanted to push myself about what I knew about my own violence, about my own loneliness," he says.
"I actually spent one year alone. No girlfriend, no friends, no family. That was a terrible year, by the way, but it was good for Julian."
The actor trained twice a day, every day, with boxers to become the real thing, getting 50 or 60 knockouts during that time.
"After Scorpion in Love I thought there was only one way to act, through suffering," he says.
But when he started Combustion, a Fast and the Furious style car-chase film, the director Daniel Calparsoro told him the opposite.
He told Gonzalez that he had to enjoy what he was doing, so the audience could.
"He taught me that you actually act with pleasure," Gonzalez says.
"At the end of Scorpion in Love, I was exhausted. I couldn't believe it when I was in Combustion - it was like Disneyland.
"So it was good for me to do these different movies, because I learnt from them, that you have to work with pleasure."
17TH SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL:
SYDNEY - April 29 to May 18
MELBOURNE - April 30 to May 18
CANBERRA - May 1 to May 14
BRISBANE - May 1 to May 14
PERTH - May 6 to May 21
ADELAIDE - May 6 to May 21
BYRON BAY - May 8 to May 14
For more info, visit www.spanishfilmfestival.com