I just watched this amazing movie: Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
This guy is one of the best actors out there. I'd put him right up there with Al Pacino, maybe. He is awesome.
Of course, first I saw him in No Country For Old Men. He was scary, downright. And I am a guy who has thought of horror movies as makeup melodramas since when I was young.
Then I saw him in Biutiful. He has done it so right I thought maybe he grew up in Mexico. How can you get the Third World thing so perfect if you did not grow up there?
And I just learn he is married to Penelope Cruz. When did that happen?
Three very different movies. Such superb performances.
I had no idea Woody Allen was still making movies. He should not stop.
At sea with Javier Bardem
Sailing lifts people out of their normal parameters of understanding; it makes them question their place in the world, because their feet and their brains need time to adjust to their new reality. (Spend enough time at sea and land becomes the alien place.) For some people, the idea is too much to bear, and their sensory systems become overloaded and they throw up their lunch. For other people, the feeling becomes addictive. They learn to love the sensation of being just a little off-balance. It's as though they can find the truth about themselves only when they can't find their feet. ...... "These are the guys you should be writing about," Bardem says, nodding at the doctors. "They should be on the cover of your magazine. They save lives. I only make movies. The world is a funny place. It doesn't make any sense." ...... He looked like Javier Bardem: everything oversized — his eyes, his nose, that enormous head — his black hair swept down over his brow, a thick growth of whiskers on his face. He did not look as though he were dying. He looked tanned, robust, relaxed. Javier Bardem looked built to last, half man, half monument. ....... I'm pretty sure my voice cracked when I said thanks for the most delicious Coke I will ever drink. She had just woken up, and she was fresh out of the shower, her wet hair still slicked back. She wasn't wearing makeup, but her skin was flawless. Her eyes were bright, and her teeth were perfect, and she was wearing a top that revealed her brown shoulders. ......... No wonder Bardem thinks he's dying. His heart must stop a thousand times a day. ......... He apologized many times for his English; he didn't need to. He talked about his reticence for publicity, how he thinks of himself as a working actor, not a celebrity. ........ He talked about his doubts and fears and insecurities, this Oscar-winning actor who had just married Penélope Cruz. He talked about his dream of one day working with Al Pacino — "but I doubt that will ever happen" — and how he would love to play Pablo Escobar and Cortez the Killer. ..... but that he would like to talk about Biutiful. "I think it's a masterpiece," he said, "and it needs help." ...... When Bardem first saw 21 Grams — the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's debut English-language film — he had the same feeling in his stomach. He stumbled out of the theater. "I remember, I almost got hit by a car walking out after," he says. "I was so moved by it. I wasn't right for a week." So Bardem was eager when he was offered the lead role in Iñárritu's Biutiful. "They are only movies," he says, "but I want to make movies that count for something." The character he plays, a dying man named Uxbal, has scratched out a life on desperate margins, but he is a man who has also maintained an unlikely moral center — like Anton Chigurh, like Bardem himself. "I believe in a man having a code," he says. Bardem is unforgiving when wronged; he believes in doing a job well; he commits entirely, but he does not commit himself often. He is selective, and he will always be careful. "How much money do you need?" he asks. ......... Biutiful is a nearly perfect movie, and Bardem carries nearly every frame of it. It's not an easy movie; it's not entertainment. There are dead children in it, and drugs, and blood filling the toilet bowl. ...... Movies don't save lives, but they can change them. The best of them can make you want to be better than you are. ..... For some reason, I suddenly realize that it has been more than two months since I have seen rain. Where is my head? I can't dream of getting into my car. I wander the streets for an hour or so before I feel as though my feet are my own again. That can happen when people grow old, or get sick, or drink too much. That can happen when they fall in love.
The Actor as Architect of a Role
“I watched my mother act all my life, and yet I wasn’t attracted to acting as such,” he recalled recently. “What attracted me was my mother’s effort, her dedication, the seriousness of the work, the desire to do something. But what that something was didn’t matter to me. It could just as well have been painting or writing or even rugby.” ....... Leading directors regularly offer him juicy parts, and he has worked in widely varied roles with many of the most distinguished names in film ..... “I think the best actors are those who are not only talented, but work harder than anybody else ....... He’s got a deep interior life going on, but he’s so immersed in the thing he does, with such concentration, with so many different buttons he can press, from humor to despair, that he becomes that, and it doesn’t even look like he is acting.” ....... But nothing, according to Mr. Bardem, has ever tested him — physically and mentally — or required greater effort and dedication more than “Biutiful,” a drama ........ said he wrote the part specifically for Mr. Bardem, the first time he had ever cast a role in advance. ...... “Physically Javier possesses an attraction that is tremendously magnetic and kinetic,” Mr. González Iñárritu said. “On the one hand, he has the primitive force of the minotaur, the strength of a bull crossed with a man, along with a face that contains the essence of the Mediterranean, that looks like it could be that of a Caesar on a Roman coin. But he also has the sensibility of a poet, an inner subtlety and emotional baggage, and it is those two sets of qualities that made him so particularly fitting to play this character.” ....... he describes his work as meticulously plotted in advance and in detail. Asked about a pair of especially moving moments in “Biutiful” in which his character, wrestling with mortality, does not speak at all, Mr. Bardem reached for a sheet of paper and proceeded to diagram the stages into which he had divided the two scenes. ........ “A character is like a building,” he explained. “I’ve never studied architecture, but I imagine that first you have to prepare the plans, lay down the base, a solid base that has to do with the character, and from there build it up. Once this is all clear, you can add the details: I want blue walls, I want wood floors, I want him to speak this way or move like that. But first you have to think.” ......... despite the growing acclaim for his body of work, he continues to study with an acting coach ....... Mr. Bardem not only consults with him as he prepares for each role but also attends his classes and workshops, where he is sometimes matched with beginning actors. ........ “Part of the work in preparing for his roles is always at the table, where we analyze the script, each word and each phrase, to try to understand the mind of that other person,” he explained. But Mr. Corazza also has Mr. Bardem do exercises designed to “prepare the canvas for painting” by “identifying and stripping away the habits, clichés and artificial aspects between him and the character, so he has the courage to find a freedom in his character.” ........ In addition to his mother, both of his maternal grandparents also were prominent actors, and one of his uncles, Juan Antonio Bardem, was a distinguished screenwriter and director ...... But Mr. Bardem tried at first to resist being pulled into the family trade. He played rugby as a boy, relentlessly and passionately, which gave him the broken bones to show for it and instilled the sense of teamwork that directors uniformly praise. When it came time to choose a career, however, he initially decided to go to art school, intending to become a painter. ...... To earn money for his studies he did small acting jobs on the side ..... But in his art classes he discovered that while he seemed to have talent, the only thing he wanted to draw was “faces, eyes, expressions and bodies,” not landscapes or abstract works. ...... “to get to the art, one must work very hard.” He added: “Art doesn’t exist just as talent. It exists as effort, work and judgment.”
Javier Bardem interview
The fact that Spain’s most eagerly followed couple chose to have a discreet ceremony with only family present (the bride wore Galliano) is hardly surprising. What is remarkable is that they managed to keep it a secret from the world’s press. ...... are not only worshipped fiercely in their native country – both were the first two Spaniards to be nominated for, and later win, Academy Awards – they are also fast becoming two of the most respected actors in Hollywood, with a glamour that threatens to dim even Brad and Angelina’s. ....... the couple are clearly planning to maintain their dignified silence about their private lives ......... 'Being famous in your own country is fun at first because you’re 20 years old and everyone is giving you all this attention,’ he explains, recalling the clamour that followed Jamón, 'but after a couple of months, I said: “This is bad, there is nothing good in this”, and I still think the same. ...... When Al Pacino saw the film he called up director Julian Schnabel to get Bardem’s number. In the middle of the night, he left a message on Bardem’s answerphone in Madrid, saying that he wanted to tell him straightaway how much he loved the movie. Bardem, who is fond of saying that 'I don’t believe in God; I believe in Al Pacino’, was astonished. 'I keep that tape with me,’ he says. 'It’s one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. I don’t care whether it’s a lie or not, whether he was just being nice.’ ......... Fresh from his success as the Coen brothers’ horribly convincing coin-flipping murderer, Roberts had doubts about the casting of Bardem in a romantic role. But she says these were dispelled when she met him on set 'and the image of that killer went straight out of my head. He’s so sweet and funny.’ ...... 'Really, I don’t see this heart-throb thing at all,’ he counters, rubbing at his stubble and sounding every bit the archetypal heart-throb. 'I don’t get it and that’s why I work so hard to try and make people believe it, like in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, with Scarlett [Johansson], Pen [Cruz] and Rebecca [Hall], where I was like: “Who in the world is going to believe that they are killing each other for me, man?”’ ....... With his warm brown eyes and smile, though, he exudes huge charisma and charm; whether he believes it or not, Eat Pray Love will only increase his allure with the opposite sex. ....... His No Country co-star Josh Brolin said: 'The first four or five days on set, Javier was creepily quiet. He’d made a choice to stay as white as he could, out of the sun. He wanted to isolate.’ ....... 'I thought the Brando of our time would have no interest in Glee but Javier was obsessed. He really wants to play a rock 'n’ roll star,’ Murphy says. ..... In one memorable scene she helps Cruz give birth on a bus, cutting the umbilical cord with her teeth. ..... Since I began in 1989 I’ve always taken a lot of time from one movie to another, some times a few months, sometimes 18 months, because I knew from the beginning that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. ...... He’s firm in his refusal to discuss his new bride, or his old flames, and yet he’s generous elsewhere. He is still delighting in his country’s win at the World Cup and expresses genuine solace at England’s miserable elimination. ......... 'I’ve always said that playing rugby in Spain is like being a bullfighter in Japan,’ he laughs. 'No one does it. But I loved rugby – but you have to quit if you want to work as an actor. I did Jamón, jamón and it was a great success and from then on playing – the other teams were always going: “He is the guy from Jamón, jamón, let’s beat him up.”’ ....... 'With No Country, I was the only foreigner on the set. You don’t feel like you want to kill someone. But you feel disconnected. The Coen brothers were treating me nicely. But beyond that I felt: what the hell am I doing there? And that actually connected me directly with the character. But if I gave that to Chigurh or Chigurh to me, I don’t know. But it does show that you should always listen to your mother!’
Globe-Trotting and Soul-Searching
a movie that takes seriously (or for that matter has fun with) a woman’s autonomy, her creativity, her desire for something other than a mate. ...... post-divorce globe-trotting ..... the essential tension between Liz’s longing for independence and her desire to be loved ....... television is, at the moment, a braver and more radical medium than the movies.
Spanish inquisition: why Javier Bardem was haunted by his new film
how sometimes 'fiction takes place in your reality, and it’s bigger than you, stronger than you, and even if you are aware of it, it happens’. ....... 'sitting down and putting death itself in a chair and talking to it’. ..... acting royalty, having known each other since working together on one of Spain’s most successful films, Jamón Jamón, in 1992, and then reunited on celluloid nearly 20 years later in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. ..... Because they are a national obsession in Spain, both have remained intensely private about their lives together, and it is made clear before our interview that Bardem will not speak about their relationship. ....... his physical presence, so intense on screen, is much more understated in real life. He has that rare quality, that only a few really great actors do, of appearing almost disappointingly anonymous when you meet them, until with a certain gesture, or perhaps a laugh, their star voltage is made unsettlingly apparent. ......... Bardem is an easy person to be with, relaxed and personable. His English is fluent, although strongly accented, and his voice is startlingly deep (so much so that listening to the recording of the interview later, it sounds wavery, the pitch almost too low for the machine to pick up). He is immediately curious ('why is everyone wearing these red flowers on their jackets?’) but one cigarette is enough and he soon hurries me inside. 'I’m Spanish, I’m freezing!’ ...... Uxbal is an extremely hard part to play, a complex, multi-layered character who is on screen in almost every scene of the film. When Bardem first read the script he rang Iñárritu and said, 'I don’t know if I’m going to survive because what you are proposing is not a movie, it’s a life experience.’ ...... Bardem brings a dignity and restraint to Uxbal, who longs only for his children to be provided for, all the while terrified that they won’t remember him. ...... Before filming started at the end of 2008 Bardem spent a month doing research, which included meeting immigrants and 'visiting these forgotten, invisible places of Barcelona, where you can sit down and listen to people’s stories, which they are anxious to tell. I went to one broken old building where there are living 50, 60 people, and some of them were really suspicious, edgy, but little by little they got into the conversation and we all ended up having dinner.’ ...... You’re there to help portray that situation as an actor, you’re not a politician.’ ...... The guy’s very, very smart and he’s down to earth and he works super-hard. He’s a great listener, and he’s got an incredible sense of humour. He’s a sponge, he can assimilate any kind of thing. He can take whatever information you give him and turn it into something else.’ He stops to consider for a moment, then laughs. 'He can probably weave straw into gold.’ ........ Because I played rugby for so long, I really clicked very well in the team of a movie set.’ ....... 'I was the only foreign guy on the whole set, and being in deep Texas is a hard place for a Spaniard to be. But I felt I was looking for that isolation also, as a way to understand my character. And even though I was with the Coen brothers, who are great guys, and Josh Brolin, who is a funny and amazing man, I couldn’t really connect with them.’ ....... 'I am here because some people placed their trust in me.’ ..... It was on the set of Vicky Cristina Barcelona that Bardem and Cruz were rumoured to have fallen in love.