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 strive to determine disguise this from the general public on the “I Love Lucy” tv sitcom.


CLARK GREGG: (As Howard Wenke) Effectively, 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 advised you it was going to be like this.

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

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

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

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

KIDMAN: (As Lucille Ball) Frankly, I can not wait.

HOLMAN: (As Roger Otter) If Lucy Ricardo’s pregnant, the viewers’s thoughts instantly goes to, how did she get that method? 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 dialogue.

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 wish to convey Mr. Lyons into this.

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

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

BARDEM: (As Desi Arnaz) There is just one factor I wish 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 artistic 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 if you happen to 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 Outdated 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 embrace “Dwell Flesh,” “Earlier than Evening 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. While you have been a child, did you see your self changing into – going into the career?

BARDEM: Probably not. I really needed to go to the wrong way as a result of I used to be so used to see all of this in my every day life that there was no magic in it for me. It was no – I used to be not likely intrigued about what that was. So I begin to – nicely, I research 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 received into the flicks by performing some work as an additional so I might get some cash and carry on portray. Sooner or later, they supplied me these couple of traces and I stated, nicely, 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 research as an actor. I went to my performing faculty, which is the one which I am nonetheless going as a result of I feel helps me quite a bit to actually remind myself, why do I like what I do? As a result of typically you get misplaced. Typically you’re like, is it price it? Why am I doing this? Am I doing this for the correct causes? Blah, blah, blah. So coming again to that, the performing faculty helps me to actually put myself within the previous footwear. After which in the future, they gave me this function the place I’ve to talk greater than two traces, and I ready myself, and I get pleasure from it. And I assume from the second to at present, I have been very fortunate, very, very fortunate and really blessed by working with among the biggest administrators I ever dream of.

DAVIES: Effectively, 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 assume what folks name the Spanish Oscars – proper? – kind of the main movie award. And also you grew to become a very main actor in Spanish cinema. Did you aspire to behave in English then in any respect?

BARDEM: Effectively, I am 42 years previous, so I assume my technology, all of us grew up with “Taxi Driver” and “Apocalypse Now” and nice performances carried out in English, together with among the nice efficiency additionally in Italy, France and, in fact, Spain, which I’ve the prospect to work with a few of them. However no, I by no means thought of 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, but it surely occurred. That is the bizarre factor.

And if you happen to ask me why, I can inform you. There’s this pretty man referred to as Julian Schnabel, which I like and I am keen on, who had the heart to say, I would like you to do “Earlier than Evening Falls” and everyone round was like, why? why? Who’s the opposite man? Why? Why? Why him? And he stated, nicely, 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 converse any English. And he stated, we’ll make this collectively. Don’t be concerned. It will be nice. And I’ve probably the greatest experiences of my life doing that film. I’ll always remember it. And we work laborious and we made it, and I assume that introduced some consideration.

DAVIES: You actually did not converse English earlier than moving into that film.

BARDEM: No. I imply, sure, hey and provides me a glass of water. That is all. I am at all times saying that I understand how to curse very nicely 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: You must begin someplace, proper?

BARDEM: (Laughter) Precisely.

DAVIES: Effectively, we must always simply pause a minute on this movie as a result of it was an actual necessary one for you. “Earlier than Evening Falls,” directed by Julian Schnabel, it is – you play the poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, who was a homosexual man persecuted in Cuba throughout the revolution. It sort of takes us by way of the by way of the ’60s, by way of the Mariel boatlift, once you, his character, results in 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 completely different from performing in Spanish for you?

BARDEM: It is a completely different, completely completely different state of affairs. And it is like right here, I am attempting to specific myself and share some opinions and be relaxed and supplying you with what I feel, supplying you with some ideas about what I what I really feel or what I feel. 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 fallacious with the intonation, with the phrases. So it’s extremely exhausting.


DAVIES: The workplace is translating. Proper. OK.

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

DAVIES: Proper.

BARDEM: Humorous sufficient. Humorous sufficient. And that is one thing that I found doing “Earlier than Evening Falls.” It provides me additionally a unique sort of freedom as a result of – I do not know say – it is is just not about not having respect to the phrases. After all, I’ve respect to the phrases. However nonetheless among the phrases does not have an emotional resonance on me. I can play with them extra freely. While you’re talking in your mom tongue, you could be extra cautious of utilizing some phrases or utilizing some intonations. In English, I really feel extra free additionally to try 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 Greatest Actor Oscar this 12 months for his starring function as Desi Arnaz within the Amazon Prime movie “Being The Ricardos.”


DAVIES: Effectively, we’ve got to speak about “No Nation For Outdated 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) Effectively, Tommy Lee Jones introduced a e book, a photograph e book of photographs that have been taken within the frontier with Mexico. And there was this man who was within the photograph? It was a sort of a black and white photograph with a prostitute in a brothel within the frontier. And Joel and Ethan Coen introduced the image to me, they usually stated, we wish this. And the photograph really was very blurry. And I stated, I do not know what you imply. Stated, you may know, you may know quickly.

So that they put me within the make-up and hair trailer. And the hairdresser, which is a good, nice man, he did this horrible haircut on my hair with my hair. And there was no mirror. So I turned and I have a look at them, they usually have been laughing so laborious that certainly one of 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 concept. I imply, it is so sensible. I imply, I knew that they gave me 50% of my character with that haircut. It was their concept.

DAVIES: Proper. And for folks have not seen it, it is – you will have lengthy hair. It isn’t notably trendy. A.O. Scott of The New York Instances referred to as it the misplaced Beatle from hell.

BARDEM: That is an excellent one.

DAVIES: Proper. So let’s hear just a bit little bit of you on this character. Now we have a clip right here from the movie. And for many who have not seen it, the plot entails – 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 stuffed with drug cash and is working. And your character, Anton Chigurh, is attempting to trace him down. And we’ll 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 you recognize the place his spouse lives and is headed to Odessa, Texas. And the clear intimation is that you’ll kill his spouse if he does not convey you the cash. So let’s simply hearken to this dialog. That is our visitor Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin in “No Nation For Outdated Males.”


BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) It is advisable come see me.

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

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) You recognize who it’s. It is advisable speak to me.

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) I needn’t speak to you.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) I feel 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’re.

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 recognize she will not be there.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) It does 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 understand how that is going to prove, do not you?

BROLIN: (As Llewelyn Moss) Nope.

BARDEM: (As Anton Chigurh) I feel you do. So that is what I will provide. You convey me the cash and I let her go. In any other case, she’s accountable, similar as you. That is the perfect 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 Outdated Males.” You recognize, 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 will have a backstory in your head that advised 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 really, that is one of many issues I like to do probably the most, to create a narrative, backstory, in my head that may assist me to grasp what I am doing. However on this case, I’ve ready a task with my performing trainer, Juan Carlos Corazza, which he is been my performing trainer since 22 years in the past. And, in fact, as soon as – once I go there with Juan Carlos, with my performing trainer, I am going primarily based on the concepts that the Coens needed me to do. It isn’t one thing that he’ll direct me 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, strive 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 method there’s backstory. And that is the good factor. He is not a human being. There is no such thing as a backstory. He’s an emblem. He’s a symbolic concept of violence. He’s a person that comes out of nowhere and goes to nowhere ultimately. So he is demise himself. He is violence himself. And that is why we needed 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 quite a bit to say as a result of they have been directing me on the set in a really, very, very delicate method, but in addition with out shedding their humorousness.

DAVIES: Humorousness, huh?

BARDEM: Yeah. That look, that method of strolling, that method of throwing one line right here and there, that is one thing that the Coens have been – I imply, they have 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 do this? They usually have been laughing (laughter). They usually stated, you may know. You may know once you see the film. They usually’re proper. I imply, it is – one of many nice issues in regards to 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 do 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 she or he says, I can not give any data. After which I naturally have a look at her. And I went away. They usually stated, no, no. You have a look at her. And also you keep there for 2 minutes. And I used to be like, what? Sure. I – we wish 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 do this. And I believed, in the meanwhile, it was slightly bit too pressured, you recognize, to pushy. However, no, they knew precisely. And certainly one of – that is one of many moments the place I feel and I do know folks love probably the most with that look. In order that’s – these are the issues that the Coens know do the perfect.

DAVIES: Yeah. I keep in mind that scene, too. And she or he says, sir, we won’t give out no data. 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 Outdated Males” is just not actually a human being. Did you join with him in any method or no?



BARDEM: And – nicely, to start with, I went…

DAVIES: That is reassuring, I assume (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 can not. I do not drive. I do not converse 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 concept relatively than a human being. However then there was a second the place I lastly received the rhythm of him – of his. And I felt snug. And as I stated, the Coens have 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, simpler for me.

DAVIES: You recognize, you have had this lengthy profession of actually attention-grabbing, complicated roles in your worldwide work. And, you recognize, hundreds of thousands of Individuals actually kind of received to know you thru “No Nation For Outdated Males.” Is it bizarre so that you can be launched to plenty 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 wish to come and say, hey.


DAVIES: Yeah. Good.

BARDEM: (Laughter) No. It is like – no, it was – to start with, I by no means anticipated this film to be the film that it’s. I imply, as a result of, as you recognize, 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 have been doing. Then once I noticed it, I felt, wow, that is one thing loopy and insane. Nevertheless it’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 know the way it is going to be obtained.

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

BARDEM: Thanks.

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

That is FRESH AIR.


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