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He’s a fan of Steven Spielberg, but Spanish-born star Javier Bardem passed on playing Colin Farrell’s role in Minority Report when it was offered to him.
“When I met him [Spielberg], I was really star-struck,” Bardem recalled when delivering a master class on Monday night at the Toronto Film Festival. But the Spanish movie star insisted he wasn’t ready to board the 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film at the time.
“Now I can, because I’ve done those roles. But at the time, it was difficult for me to jump into a foreign-language performance,” Bardem added. “My English is better now. You may not believe it, but it’s better,” he added.
Bardem, 48, also then had the option to work widely in his native Spain, especially after his breakout performance alongside Penelope Cruz in the 1992 drama Jamon Jamon, a movie that eventually led both Spanish performers to fall in love and marry.
“That was 25 years ago, and we have two children today,” Bardem said in passing, as both he and Cruz prefer to remain tight-lipped about their private lives. Bardem is in Toronto to promote Mother!, the Darren Aronofsky drama where he co-stars with Jennifer Lawrence.
“For me, to perform between Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, in the English language, it takes balls,” he told the Glenn Gould Theater audience. And he’s also brought to TIFF Loving Pablo, Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s English-language biodrama where Bardem plays the drug lord Pablo Escobar and Cruz is his mistress.
Bardem said being a father has changed what film roles he takes on, and how he approaches them. “There’s two little people there looking at you and they want to see daddy. They don’t want to see Pablo Escobar. They don’t want to see Ramon Sampedro. They want to see daddy. And daddy is the major role to play,” he insisted.
Bardem added actors often seek their identity through their characters, which leaves them without a strong personality of their own. But being the father of two kids requires a strong personality, he said.
So he now takes a different approach to acting, leaving all emotional intensity on set, before he heads back to his family. “I’m forced to leave everything there, after I shoot. And I go back home and it’s way healthier,” Bardem said.
The Toronto Film Festival runs through Sept. 17.
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