11/01/2007 at 08:00 PM EDT
Javier Bardem, who stars in Love in the Time of Cholera
as a man who spends his life obsessing over an unattainable woman, says that, in reality, he likes women who are comfortable in their own skin.
"For me, the most attractive woman is the person who is at peace with herself – calm but not boring," Bardem, 38, tells Parade
magazine. "No matter how good that person looks, when I see somebody at peace, that is sexy to me."
Bardem, a self-described "romantic" who has been linked to compatriot Penélope Cruz, also says he's not afraid of strong women. "I've always been surrounded by strong female personalities, and I respect them. I think they are far stronger in the soul than men."
Bardem tells the magazine he is currently single – though he and Cruz were spotted soaking up the sun
together on vacation in the Maldives and hugging in New York last month.
Cruz costars with Bardem in Woody Allen's next film Vicky Cristina Barcelona
– and has denied that she and Bardem are anything more than friends.
As for his newest films, Bardem, who plays a killer in the upcoming No Country for Old Men
, says it's easier to play a lover than a fighter. "The hard part for me wasn't showing my body – I've done that plenty," Bardem says of Cholera's
love scenes. "It was shooting the gun that I hated. In Europe, we have no problem doing love scenes but more trouble doing violence."