Javier Bardem, actor
EmptyAWARDS: 2001 Independent Spirit Award best male lead for "Before Night Falls"; 2001 National Society of Film Critics Award best actor for "Before Night Falls"; 2000 National Board of Review best actor for "Before Night Falls." CURRENT CREDITS: A psychopathic "ghost" killer with a bad haircut in Joel and Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax) and as a star-crossed lover in the upcoming adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel "Love in the Time of Cholera" (New Line); MEMBERSHIPS: Screen Actors Guild, Union de Actores (Spain). Academy member since: 2001
THR: You have been very busy recently, working on two highly anticipated films. What has your life been like?
Javier Bardem: (Last year) was a year of work for sure, because I did two movies, which is something that I haven't done in my life. Back-to-back films. But they were rich moments because I had the chance to work on two different projects and approach two different characters. It was quite an experience. I am happy that I did it because I really wanted to do those two roles.
THR: Your last few films have been directed by some of the best in the business: Milos Forman (this summer's Samuel Goldwyn Films release "Goya's Ghosts"), Mike Newell (the forthcoming "Love in the Time of Cholera"), and Joel and Ethan Coen (the forthcoming "No Country for Old Men"). How do their styles differ from one another?
Bardem: They are all the same, in the end, because they are all trying to create a moment between the words "action" and "cut." Trying to create something that is alive. Something that is not only nice to see and hear but also entertaining and worthwhile. All of them work hard in that sense, but in different ways. They also all have something in common, which is a profound sense of relaxation. There is no tension allowed on set.
THR: After your Oscar-nominated performance in "Before Night Falls," how did the types of roles you were offered change, both in the U.S. and Europe?
Bardem: I live in Spain. I am a Spanish actor, but since a couple of years ago, the stuff that comes to me is more international than Spanish. It's not something that I choose, it just happens. In a way, it looks like I do them because I want to get out of Spain, which is not true at all. Really, the extraordinary event for me is when I leave Spain to work.
THR: What was the Oscar experience like for you?
Bardem: It was mad. It was fun. Basically, it depends on how you take it. I took it as a gift, as something extraordinary that happened, but that doesn't mean anything at all. Awards are based on people's opinions, and that doesn't mean you are better than anybody else at all. There are many cases at the Oscars -- and at a million other awards -- where people were awarded for horrible work, and amazing actors were not even nominated. But you want to have fun with it, and that's what I did. And then I immersed myself in the journey of the whole Oscar thing. I had the experience, and then I realized that it's a lot of work. It has two sides: One is, yes, you feel honored by it, and there is the other side, where you go, "Wow, that's a lot of energy and work just to promote yourself." And I don't really promote myself well. I only did a movie, that's it.
THR: You have said that the Oscars aren't a big deal in Spain. Do you think that has changed in recent years, due to your success and that of fellow Spaniards, like Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar?
Bardem: What I meant by that is that there are many people in the Spanish film community who are up all night watching the Oscars, but the people in the street, they don't give that much importance to the Oscars. But of course, if there is a Spaniard there, more people will watch the show and be curious if they win or lose.
THR: What about the Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscars, of which Bardem has four)? Do people pay attention to those?
Bardem: Once again, it's the film people. They all pay attention to it, and we are all happy when we get nominated. We support each other. But people in the States don't care about the Goyas! In the U.S., when you say the name "Oscar" in a bar, people get crazy, as if he belongs to the culture of the country, but when you say "Oscar" in a bar in Spain, some people will say, "OK, let's make a toast to Oscar!" They don't make a big deal about it. They just care about watching the movie and saying, "I liked it," or "I didn't like it." They don't care if the movie is being awarded or not.
THR: Do you prepare for English-language roles differently than you do for Spanish-
Bardem: The language itself is something you have to really approach differently in order to make it yours and put it on your side, rather than (have it work) against you. So you have to work hard on the lines, the music, the rhythm and the pace of the language that you are not familiar with. That takes a lot of time and energy, but there's always a moment when everything clicks, and then you start to feel comfortable in it. Then the whole game starts, and you have to perform.
THR: You are a former member of the Spanish National Rugby team. I assume you've been following the Rugby World Cup that's happening now in France?
Bardem: Oh my God, yes! I've been missing lots of the games because I've been traveling, but I watched Argentina beat France. I watched Wales. I watched New Zealand score 100 points. I would love to go to the final, but I'm sure there aren't any tickets left.