He studied law and entered the School of Dramatic Arts in Madrid. In 1986 he participated in the film Time of Silence, where he became known, and as a result of that he obtained the role of Cosme in the series Turno de oficio, in which he achieved certain notoriety.
Thanks to his success, he was called to an important number of films, including Divinas palabras (1987), for which he won the Goya Award for the best male performance of the cast. In this title they followed Bajar al moro, A solas contigo or La noche más larga. In television he starred in 1991 today’s Girls, with which he got a Silver Frames.
Two years later, in 1993, he enjoyed his greatest professional success to head the cast of Madregilda (Francisco Regueiro), where he played a Francisco Franco self-conscious and weak. For this work, Juan Echanove won the Silver Concha for the best actor in the San Sebastian Film Festival, the Goya Award for the best male protagonist, the Sant Jordi Award for the best actor as well as the Ondas Award and a candidacy for the Fotogramas de Silver that lost against Javier Bardem. His intervention that same year in My brother of the soul (Mariano Barroso) was settled with another nomination to the Goya Awards.
Two years later, together with José Luis García Sánchez and Juan Luis Galiardo, he started a film series about deep Spain composed of the following titles: Sighs of Spain (1995), There is always a way to the right (1997) and Goodbye with the heart (2000). Between the filming of each film, Echanove participated in films such as La flor de mi secreto (Pedro Almodóvar, 1995), His eyes closed and the world continues to walk (Jaime Chávarri, 1997) or Los años barbaros (Fernando Colomo, 1998). In the first of them he played a journalist capable of reviving a writer whose marriage had failed. In the second, a Falangist eager to imprison some escaped prisoners, played by Ernesto Alterio and Jordi Mollá.