POP CULTURE

The Mind of Javier Bardem

An award doesn’t necessarily make you a better actor.— Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem. Wikimedia Commons.

I first met the character Anton Chigurh in Cormac McCarthy’s gripping No Country For Old Men. I was floored by the power of McCarthy’s prose, the original story and the striking characters.

When the Coen Brothers translated this book to film, it didn’t surprise me to find Tommy Lee Jones selected to portray the weathered sheriff caught up in the unsettling new kind of escalating violence. But who was this remarkable character inhabiting Anton Chigurh? From his first moments on the screen Javier Bardem was stunning.

So much so that I soon found myself looking for other films he’d performed in. I found many.

The Spanish actor’s versatility is remarkable. In The Sea Inside he plays a quadriplegic who wants to have assisted suicide legalized. In Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona he’s a handsome womanizer. In Goya’s Ghost he’s a Catholic priest defending the painter Goya during the Spanish Inquisition. In Love in a Time of Cholera he is Florentino, a young man smitten by a woman who married another, aging throughout the film into an old man who has waited a lifetime to consummate his love. In Skyfall he plays another Bond arch villain.

Though superb in all these, my favorite is his nuanced role in The Dancer Upstairs as a police detective tasked with hunting down a South American revolutionary leader. Directed by John Malkovich, it is a haunting, heartbreaking tale.

Bardem is the youngest of several generations of actors involved in film since the early days of Spanish cinema. While going through some of my old files I discovered a page of quotes I’d gathered. I found his perspectives on acting, awards and the film industry intriguing and insightful.

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Screen shot from The Dancer Upstairs.

Javier Bardem Quotes

Don’t call me an actor. I’m just a worker. I am an entertainer. Don’t say that what I am doing is art.
Javier Bardem

Celebrity is very weird.
Javier Bardem

I do respect people’s faith, but I don’t respect their manipulation of that faith in order to create fear and control.
Javier Bardem

I don’t know how to drive a car.
Javier Bardem

I don’t really care where movies come from as long as they’re worth making.
Javier Bardem

I enjoy my job as long as I can create a character, otherwise it’s boring.
Javier Bardem

I live in Spain. Oscars are something that are on TV Sunday night. Basically, very late at night. You don’t watch, you just read the news after who won or who lost.
Javier Bardem

I truly don’t have any formula for the choices I make.
Javier Bardem

I want to act because I don’t know how to do anything else.
Javier Bardem

I will work with a director who has good material because at the end of the day, that’s what counts.
Javier Bardem

My concern is to continue respecting my work as I’ve done since I began as an actor and I could only do that if I’m strong enough to keep on doing what I think best in an artistic way.
Javier Bardem

Now, there are so many movies, so many festivals, and so many awards going on, each judged with each other, like your work is worse than others and that’s not fair. How can you tell what’s best and what’s worst from these awards? We’re talking about art.
Javier Bardem

Sometimes I say to myself, what are you doing in this absurd job? Why don’t you go to Africa and help people? But I cannot help people, because I am a hypochondriac.
Javier Bardem

The award is important in order to bring people to the movie theater. That’s the only principle meaning of any award.
Javier Bardem

The only thing I can do is act, but it’s not something I even feel comfortable doing. It costs me a lot, because I’m a shy person, even if I don’t look it.
Javier Bardem

This great imperialistic world called the United States has made us believe that an Oscar is the most important thing in the world for an actor. But if you think about it for five minutes you realize it can’t be.
Javier Bardem

We actors always say how difficult and physically demanding a role was. But give me a break, it’s only a movie.
Javier Bardem

We live in the moment now where this whole movie business is crazy.
Javier Bardem

What does my performance have to do with Russell Crowe’s? Nothing. If I play Gladiator and we all play Gladiator with Ridley Scott in the same amount of time, maybe we have a chance to see who did it best.
Javier Bardem

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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