As Spain’s most internationally acclaimed actor, Javier Bardem has captivated audiences worldwide with his diverse performances. In 2008, Bardem received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his chilling portrayal of sociopath killer, Anton Chigurh, in Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men.”
Bardem, now plays Daniel Craig’s cyberterrorist nemesis Raoul Silva in the latest 007 outing “Skyfall.” His character is the man who puts MI6 at risk and hell bent on revenge.
In the film, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
A few weeks ago I had to the chance to sit down 1-1 with Bardem to talk about the film and explains finding the character inside the villain.
Here is what he had to say.
Latino-Review: Was this a dream come true for you?
Bardem: I don’t know about a dream come true, but it was a great…it was a great opportunity that involved a lot of fun and joy through the creativity of it, in the sense of working with Sam [Mendes] and the cast and this great material, that at the end is what counts, how good the material is or not. This was very good material, working with that. It happened to be also very pleasant, because of the people that were involved, and now being a part of this movie, of course it’s a great privilege. It’s a great honor. Being in the movie that celebrates fifty years of ‘James Bond’ is that something that I would’ve not ever thought when I was walking ‘James Bond’ movies.
Latino-Review: I read somewhere that you said when you take a project on it has to hit you. What was it about this one that hit you, beside it being a ‘Bond’ film?
Bardem: It’s the feeling that…when I read it, I felt that the story was very…it would work on different layers of complexity, and then when I got to my part, I thought it was very open to work in many interpretations of those layers that the character has. So it was an open invitation to really do a journey with it, a journey…a creative journey that you construct, one behavior, one person, one personality. It was also more original in the sense that it’s not a man who wants to destroy the world. He’s kind of more of a person who’s broken inside and what’s to achieve something in particular, and that’s more approachable as an actor, I guess.
Latino-Review: Do you see this ‘Bond’ film as a grounded one?
Bardem: Yeah, it’s grounded in the sense that there’s some…I think that what Sam did along with the screenwriters is to truly focus, not focus, but put weight on the back story of all the characters, and as a director, what he did with us was to allow us to breathe and to sit down and take our time and do the scenes, great scenes, without the rush like in movies like this are supposed to happen, without losing the momentum and tension of a ‘James Bond’ movie. That’s the tricky part that he managed so well in this one.
Latino-Review: Where do you go or where do you pull this character from, because you’re a great psychopath?
Bardem: I don’t know. I think it was…it’s always what’s on the page. You cannot really bring something that is not there. It’s that based on what you read and what you have in your hands, is that thing enough to trigger your imagination or not. In this case, it was, and then you get there and you try different tones and different colors and different things to it. You work along with the director. It wasn’t especially difficult or especially easy. It was enjoyable. It was something I enjoyed.
Latino-Review: It looks like onscreen that you had fun playing it. Do you have fun playing bad guys?
Bardem: I don’t know if playing bad guys. I have fun playing good characters, and in this case, also – what’s the word – the fun was allowed because it’s a Bond villain. Within the rules of the ‘James Bond’ movie, the Bond villain is allowed to have fun.
Latino-Review: I like that this film has some homages to the older ‘Bond’ films.
Bardem: Yeah. We tried to make a mixture, to bring something classic to him, because it’s also a movie that celebrates fifty years and we knew that. And at the same time, to open it a more present day situation, modern or call it whatever you want.
Latino-Review: If you could have played another ‘Bond’ villain from the past, which one would you have been?
Bardem: I don’t know. I don’t have anyone in my mind that I could say. I mean, many of them have been done by great actors, and I can’t tell which one was the one that struck me the most, since I was twelve and it was the first one I saw which it was Jaws. ‘Moonraker’ was the first movie that I saw.
Latino-Review: How do you feel about the love that Spanish cinema has been getting?
Bardem: Well, I think Spain, as in any other country, we managed to good films, bad films, mediocre films. We try our best, but at least until now we managed to do films. Now, in Spain it doesn’t look good at all. It looks really bad. I don’t know what’s the future of Spanish cinema now. The government…which is beyond any color. It goes way more beyond any color that government represents. The situation in Spain, how this government is handling it, it’s pretty strong, especially – I mean many things – but on the film industry, it’s really hard on it. It’s in the sense that it went eight percent to twenty-one percent of taxes, in the sense that now, for people who are going through a very horrible situation, to go to a movie theater is impossible. It’s a luxury. That implies that many, many, many movie theaters are closing, with a lot of unemployed people behind those doors, which implies that not many movies are being made because there is no money to invest in those movies. Also, you don’t know if there is ever going to be a place to watch. So the situation is really strong, but I don’t want to be all pessimistic. I have to say that many great young directors are also raising up and doing different formulas to express themselves and there are great projects out there that I know are going to be the new thing, the new thing in the future.
Latino-Review: Do you like the balance of doing a movie like this and then an independent film?
Bardem: Yeah. I mean, I like my job. I’m a passionate person about what I’m doing. I have the privilege, the immense luck of making a living out of it when that’s not the common thing. It’s not easy to make a living as an actor, and I really love what I do and I don’t care where they come from. I don’t care. I just care about the quality of the script and I don’t care where it comes from.
Latino-Review: Going back to what you said about a good character, is there any way that you would ever play Pablo Escobar? I know that you were supposed to –
Bardem: Well, Pablo Escobar, for sure, is an amazing figure of many, many, many things involved in that personality, as far as I know, as far as I read. I read many, many books about it, and of course a very strong figure that is very powerful to create in fiction, to create not a biopic, but a movie around him. But again, if a project comes to me powerful on that and makes sense, because most of it…it always has to make some meaning, in the sense that things cannot be done just because. Most of the Pablo Escobar that I received didn’t make sense. For better or worse, they were like isolated in their own thing. It’s like, ‘No. Pablo Escobar is a very complicated character.’ He’s not only one piece of a character, I think.
Latino-Review: What happened with ‘Dark Tower’?
Bardem: ‘Dark Tower’ went to it’s own thing, and then it came to a moment where the thing got stopped by the budget and all of that. So far I don’t know anything about it, but I’m not worried about it. What I take with me was the great experience of being in the room with Ron Howard and Akiva [Goldsman] and Brian Grazer, discussing the project. That was a great moment. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but it may happen some other day.
“Skyfall” hits theaters on November 9, 2013.