Javier Bardem likes playing characters who are full of contradictions : NPR


That is FRESH AIR. I am David Bianculli, in for Terry Gross.

Spanish actor Javier Bardem is nominated for an Oscar for finest actor for his portrayal of Desi Arnaz within the Amazon Prime film “Being The Ricardos.” It is about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, their courtship, their marriage and “I Love Lucy,” the historic TV present they created collectively and starred in as Desi and Lucy Ricardo.

This is a clip from the film. Lucille Ball, performed by Nicole Kidman, who can be nominated for an Oscar, and Bardem as Arnaz are of their workplace with CBS executives. They inform execs that Lucille Ball is pregnant. The shocked studio males rapidly attempt to determine learn how to cover this from the general public on the “I Love Lucy” tv sitcom.


CLARK GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) Nicely, what do you intend?

JAVIER BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) That Ricardos have the newborn.


GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) What do you imply?

NICOLE KIDMAN: (As Lucille Ball) I instructed you it was going to be like this.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) Lucy Ricardo will probably be pregnant on the present – an eight-episode arc, beginning with Lucy telling Ricky the pleased information and ending with the beginning of the newborn.

JEFF HOLMAN: (As Roger Otter, laughing) No. No. No.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) You’ll be able to’t have a pregnant girl on tv.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) Why not?

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) As a result of it is tv. We come into folks’s houses.

NELSON FRANKLIN: (As Joe Strickland) Pregnant ladies usually vomit.

KIDMAN: (As Lucille Ball) I do know I might any second.

HOLMAN: (As Roger Otter) Could I say one thing?

KIDMAN: (As Lucille Ball) Frankly, I am unable to wait.

HOLMAN: (As Roger Otter) If Lucy Ricardo’s pregnant, the viewers’s thoughts instantly goes to, how did she get that means? Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) We’ll be pushing the beds collectively, too.

CLARK GREGG, NELSON FRANKLIN AND JEFF HOLMAN: (As Howard Wenke, Joe Strickland and Roger Otter) Oh, no, no.

HOLMAN: (As Roger Otter) No, no, no, no, no.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) I am sorry, Des. We will need to put our foot down on this one. You’ll be able to’t do it, finish of debate.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) Miss Rosen, will you are available in, please, with a pad and pen? My secretary.


GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) What are you doing?

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) To Mr. Alfred Lyons, chairman of the board of Philip Morris.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) We do not need to carry Mr. Lyons into this.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) Mr. Lyons, I suppose all of it comes all the way down to you. You’re the man who paying the cash for the present, and I will do no matter you determine.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) Mr. Lyons would not get entangled at this degree.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) There is just one factor I need to make sure that you just perceive.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) Desi.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) We have given you the No. 1 present on tv, and up till now, the inventive choices have been in our palms. They’re now telling us the Lucy and Ricky cannot have a child on the present.

GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) That is not precisely what we stated.

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) All I ask from you in the event you agree with them is that you just inform them that we’ll not settle for them telling us what to not do except starting with our subsequent episode, additionally they inform us what to do. Sincerely, et cetera, et cetera. Thanks. And ship it by telegram, please.

DANA LYN BARON: (As Miss Rosen) Sure, sir.


KIDMAN: (As Lucille Ball) And that wasn’t even why I married him.

BIANCULLI: In 2008, Javier Bardem received an Oscar for his efficiency as a psychopathic killer within the Coen Brothers’ movie “No Nation For Previous Males.” He performed a seductive Spanish artist within the Woody Allen movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Bardem has been a revered actor in worldwide cinema for years. His different movies embody “Stay Flesh,” “Earlier than Night time Falls,” “The Sea Inside” and “Biutiful,” for which he additionally earned an Oscar nomination. Javier Bardem spoke with Dave Davies in 2011.


DAVE DAVIES: You come from a protracted line of actors – your mother – proper? – your grandparents, your brother, your sister. Once you had been a child, did you see your self turning into – going into the occupation?

BARDEM: Not likely. I really wished to go to the other way as a result of I used to be so used to see all of this in my each day life that there was no magic in it for me. It was no – I used to be probably not intrigued about what that was. So I begin to – effectively, I examine as a child. After which I begin to work as a painter. And I went to Belle Arts (ph), Bellas Artes, to color. However little by little, I acquired into the films by doing a little work as an additional so I might get some cash and carry on portray. Sooner or later, they provided me these couple of traces and I stated, effectively, why not? And I did it and I felt nice. I felt like, wow, I do know this place, I belong right here.

After which I begin to examine as an actor. I went to my performing faculty, which is the one which I am nonetheless going as a result of I believe helps me loads to essentially remind myself, why do I really like what I do? As a result of typically you get misplaced. Typically you might be like, is it price it? Why am I doing this? Am I doing this for the precise causes? Blah, blah, blah. So coming again to that, the performing faculty helps me to essentially put myself within the outdated sneakers. After which someday, they gave me this function the place I’ve to talk greater than two traces, and I ready myself, and I take pleasure in it. And I suppose from the second to at present, I have been very fortunate, very, very fortunate and really blessed by working with a number of the best administrators I ever dream of.

DAVIES: Nicely, I imply, you actually had success at it. I imply, you received the Goya Award for finest actor for the movie “Boca A Boca.” That is I suppose what folks name the Spanish Oscars – proper? – kind of the main movie award. And also you grew to become a extremely main actor in Spanish cinema. Did you aspire to behave in English then in any respect?

BARDEM: Nicely, I am 42 years outdated, so I suppose my technology, all of us grew up with “Taxi Driver” and “Apocalypse Now” and nice performances completed in English, together with a number of the nice efficiency additionally in Italy, France and, after all, Spain, which I’ve the possibility to work with a few of them. However no, I by no means considered going out of Spain and dealing in a overseas language ever as a result of that was completely out of my radar. No – it is like, no, that is not going to occur, nevertheless it occurred. That is the bizarre factor.

And in the event you ask me why, I can inform you. There’s this pretty man known as Julian Schnabel, which I really like and I like, who had the center to say, I would like you to do “Earlier than Night time Falls” and everyone round was like, why? why? Who’s the opposite man? Why? Why? Why him? And he stated, effectively, as a result of I like him. As a result of he noticed a few of my films in Spain. At the moment, I did not communicate any English. And he stated, we will make this collectively. Don’t be concerned. It should be tremendous. And I’ve the most effective experiences of my life doing that film. I’ll always remember it. And we work exhausting and we made it, and I suppose that introduced some consideration.

DAVIES: You actually did not communicate English earlier than stepping into that film.

BARDEM: No. I imply, sure, whats up and provides me a glass of water. That is all. I am at all times saying that I understand how to curse very effectively as a result of I study English listening to AC/DC.

DAVIES: (Laughter) OK.

BARDEM: So I am an enormous fan of AC/DC. And so I used to be translating the lyrics, so I understand how to curse (laughter).

DAVIES: It’s important to begin someplace, proper?

BARDEM: (Laughter) Precisely.

DAVIES: Nicely, we must always simply pause a minute on this movie as a result of it was an actual essential one for you. “Earlier than Night time Falls,” directed by Julian Schnabel, it is – you play the poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, who was a homosexual man persecuted in Cuba through the revolution. It sort of takes us by means of the by means of the ’60s, by means of the Mariel boatlift, if you, his character, leads to New York and will get AIDS. I imply, it is a actually dramatic function. And one of many factor that is fascinating to me about it’s that it takes place in Cuba, however a lot of the dialogue is in English. How is performing in English totally different from performing in Spanish for you?

BARDEM: It is a totally different, completely totally different scenario. And it is like right here, I am attempting to precise myself and share some opinions and be relaxed and supplying you with what I believe, supplying you with some ideas about what I what I really feel or what I believe. And there may be this workplace in my mind full of individuals working on the similar time that I am speaking to you attempting to not, I imply, be unsuitable with the intonation, with the phrases. So it’s totally exhausting.


DAVIES: The workplace is translating. Proper. OK.

BARDEM: Precisely. If I communicate Spanish, that workplace is closed. There’s no one within the workplace. I imply, I am tremendous by my very own (laughter).

DAVIES: Proper.

BARDEM: Humorous sufficient. Humorous sufficient. And that is one thing that I found doing “Earlier than Night time Falls.” It provides me additionally a distinct sort of freedom as a result of – I do not know learn how to say – it is is just not about not having respect to the phrases. In fact, I’ve respect to the phrases. However nonetheless a number of the phrases would not have an emotional resonance on me. I can play with them extra freely. Once you’re talking in your mom tongue, chances are you’ll be extra cautious of utilizing some phrases or utilizing some intonations. In English, I really feel extra free additionally to attempt to experiment issues and experiment tones and the way in which of talking and – and so one factor provides you the opposite.

BIANCULLI: Javier Bardem talking with Dave Davies in 2011. Extra after a break. That is FRESH AIR.


BIANCULLI: That is FRESH AIR. Let’s get again to FRESH AIR’s Dave Davies and his 2011 dialog with Javier Bardem. The Spanish actor has been nominated for a Finest Actor Oscar this 12 months for his starring function as Desi Arnaz within the Amazon Prime movie “Being The Ricardos.”


DAVIES: Nicely, we’ve got to speak about “No Nation For Previous Males,” the Coen brothers’ movie the place you play Anton Chigurh, this really scary, sociopathic killer. To start with, simply clarify how you bought the look of this man.

BARDEM: (Laughter) Nicely, Tommy Lee Jones introduced a ebook, a photograph ebook of images that had been taken within the frontier with Mexico. And there was this man who was within the picture? It was a sort of a black and white picture with a prostitute in a brothel within the frontier. And Joel and Ethan Coen introduced the image to me, they usually stated, we would like this. And the picture really was very blurry. And I stated, I do not know what you imply. Stated, you will know, you will know quickly.

So that they put me within the make-up and hair trailer. And the hairdresser, which is a superb, nice man, he did this horrible haircut on my hair with my hair. And there was no mirror. So I turned and I take a look at them, they usually had been laughing so exhausting that one among them fell off on the ground – ha-ha-ha. And I stated, I would like a mirror. I would like a mirror proper now. What is going on on right here? And I noticed it. And it was like, wow, that is actually insane (laughter). However once more, it is Coen brothers. It is so sensible thought. I imply, it is so sensible. I imply, I knew that they gave me 50% of my character with that haircut. It was their thought.

DAVIES: Proper. And for folks have not seen it, it is – you’ve lengthy hair. It is not significantly fashionable. A.O. Scott of The New York Occasions known as it the misplaced Beatle from hell.

BARDEM: That is a great one.

DAVIES: Proper. So let’s hear just a bit little bit of you on this character. We have now a clip right here from the movie. And for many who have not seen it, the plot includes – there was a bunch of drug sellers, and there was a shootout. And this man who occurs to be a welder who’s performed by Josh Brolin comes upon a satchel filled with drug cash and is working. And your character, Anton Chigurh, is attempting to trace him down. And we will hearken to as a telephone name between you and this man who has the cash. And one of many issues that’s referred to within the name is that the place his spouse lives and is headed to Odessa, Texas. And the clear intimation is that you’ll kill his spouse if he would not carry you the cash. So let’s simply hearken to this dialog. That is our visitor Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin in “No Nation For Previous Males.”


BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) It’s worthwhile to come see me.

JOSH BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Who is that this?

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) You realize who it’s. It’s worthwhile to speak to me.

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) I need not speak to you.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) I believe you do. Are you aware the place I am going?

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Why would I care the place you are going?

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) I do know the place you might be.

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Yeah. The place am I?

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) You are within the hospital throughout the river, however that is not the place I am going. Are you aware the place I am going?

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Yeah. I do know the place you are going.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) All proper.

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) You realize she will not be there.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) It would not make any distinction the place she is.

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) So what are you going up there for?

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) You know the way that is going to end up, do not you?

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Nope.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) I believe you do. So that is what I will supply. You carry me the cash and I let her go. In any other case, she’s accountable, similar as you. That is one of the best deal you are going to get. I will not inform you it can save you your self as a result of you may’t.

DAVIES: And that is one of many 10 scariest guys I’ve ever seen in a film. That is our visitor Javier Bardem from the movie, the Coen brothers movie “No Nation For Previous Males.” You realize, your character, Anton Chigurh, we do not actually know something about him within the movie. And I collect within the novel, the Cormac McCarthy novel, he is additionally not so clearly outlined. Did you’ve a backstory in your head that instructed you the way he grew to become what he was?

BARDEM: That is a really humorous, very attention-grabbing query. No, I did not. And truly, that is one of many issues I like to do probably the most, to create a narrative, backstory, in my head that can assist me to know what I am doing. However on this case, I’ve ready a task with my performing instructor, Juan Carlos Corazza, which he is been my performing instructor since 22 years in the past. And, after all, as soon as – once I go there with Juan Carlos, with my performing instructor, I am going based mostly on the concepts that the Coens wished me to do. It is not one thing that he’ll direct me learn how to do it, after which I’ll go to a set and do what I would like. No. It is like, I speak to the administrators. They inform me what they need. I am going there, to the laboratory, attempt various things, come again to them. They usually select what they need.

And I used to be working with Juan Carlos. And we discovered, like, there isn’t any means there’s backstory. And that is the good factor. He is not a human being. There isn’t a backstory. He’s an emblem. He’s a symbolic thought of violence. He’s a person that comes out of nowhere and goes to nowhere in the long run. So he is demise himself. He is violence himself. And that is why we wished to create this factor the place you aren’t positive what’s him, if he is a person or a machine, or a biblical plague (laughter) – or what? And that was humorous to do, but in addition very delicate to not cross previous the road. And in that, the Coens had loads to say as a result of they had been directing me on the set in a really, very, very refined means, but in addition with out dropping their humorousness.

DAVIES: Humorousness, huh?

BARDEM: Yeah. That look, that means of strolling, that means of throwing one line right here and there, that is one thing that the Coens had been – I imply, they had been pushing me – not pushing me, like, asking me to do. And typically I’ll go like, why? Why? You do not want that. You do not want – why? Why would he try this? They usually had been laughing (laughter). They usually stated, you will know. You may know if you see the film. They usually’re proper. I imply, it is – one of many nice issues concerning the Coens is that they always remember the humorousness.

DAVIES: Are you able to consider an instance of a kind of issues that you just stated, why would you like me to try this, after which it made sense later?

BARDEM: I do not know. There is a scene the place I am going to the trailer park. And I ask for Josh Brolin’s. character. And there is this girl there. After which I ask the place he’s. And he or she says, I can not give any info. After which I naturally take a look at her. And I went away. They usually stated, no, no. You take a look at her. And also you keep there for 2 minutes. And I used to be like, what? Sure. I – we would like you to take a look at her and stare at her for 2 minutes, I imply, with out blinking. And I stated, OK. I will try this. And I believed, in the meanwhile, it was slightly bit too pressured, , to pushy. However, no, they knew precisely. And one among – that is one of many moments the place I believe and I do know folks love probably the most with that look. In order that’s – these are the issues that the Coens know learn how to do one of the best.

DAVIES: Yeah. I keep in mind that scene, too. And he or she says, sir, we won’t give out no info. And also you simply…

BARDEM: Precisely (laughter).

DAVIES: You stare proper again at her.

BARDEM: Precisely.

DAVIES: The character Anton Chigurh in “No Nation For Previous Males” is just not actually a human being. Did you join with him in any means or no?



BARDEM: And – effectively, initially, I went…

DAVIES: That is reassuring, I suppose (laughter).

BARDEM: Sure. Sure. Sure. Thank God (laughter). I went to the Coens – and which I’ve at all times, at all times dreamed of working with. And I by no means thought it was going to occur. And it occurred. And I went to him – to them. And I stated, hear; I can not do that film, I am unable to. I do not drive. I do not communicate English. And I hate violence. They usually stated, you are excellent.


BARDEM: You are excellent for the film. I stated, OK. No matter. So that they satisfied me. And I went there. And I used to be so misplaced. There’s nothing an excessive amount of – there’s not a lot to carry on to as a result of, as we’re speaking – as we stated, he is an thought moderately than a human being. However then there was a second the place I lastly acquired the rhythm of him – of his. And I felt snug. And as I stated, the Coens had been at all times, I imply, serving to me find the tone and discovering the humor in it. And that is why I had a good time doing it. In any other case, he would have been too darkish. And it’s too darkish. He’s very darkish. However he additionally has these glimpses of humor that make the entire thing, I imply, less difficult for me.

DAVIES: You realize, you have had this lengthy profession of actually attention-grabbing, advanced roles in your worldwide work. And, , tens of millions of Individuals actually kind of acquired to know you thru “No Nation For Previous Males.” Is it bizarre so that you can be launched to lots of American audiences as this creepy man?

BARDEM: (Laughter) No, no. It is a pleasure (laughter). I imply, that make folks have a second thought after they need to come and say, whats up.


DAVIES: Yeah. Good.

BARDEM: (Laughter) No. It is like – no, it was – initially, I by no means anticipated this film to be the film that it’s. I imply, as a result of, as , we do not work together. We did not ever work together, me and Josh Brolin or Tommy Lee Jones. So I used to be solely conscious of what I used to be doing on the set, which was strolling round with that haircut and killing folks with my cattle gun. So I did not actually know what film we had been doing. Then once I noticed it, I felt, wow, that is one thing loopy and insane. But it surely’s very Coen Brothers. I find it irresistible. After which the film went to this enormous, excessive place. And – however you by no means know. You by no means understand how it is going to be acquired.

DAVIES: Nicely, Javier Bardem, it has been actually attention-grabbing. Thanks a lot.

BARDEM: Thanks.

BIANCULLI: Javier Bardem chatting with Dave Davies in 2011. The Spanish actor is up for an Oscar this 12 months as Finest Actor for his function as Desi Arnaz in “Being The Ricardos.” After a break, movie critic Justin Chang evaluations two different Oscar nominees, films competing within the class of Finest Worldwide Characteristic, representing their respective international locations of Belgium and Chad.

That is FRESH AIR.


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