Berlin: Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning and Salma Hayek Discuss 'The Roads Not Taken'

Salma Hayek, Elle Fanning, Sally Potter, Javier Bardem at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival for 'The Roads not Taken'
Andreas Rentz:Getty Images

Bardem plays a writer with dementia, being cared for by his American daughter (Fanning) while he recalls fictional versions of his past, including with his first wife, played by Salma Hayek.

Berlin got one of the only doses of star power available at this year's film festival when Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning and Salma Hayek posed for the paparazzi in support of Sally Potter's competition entry The Roads Not Taken.

In the film, Bardem plays Leo, a writer with dementia who spends more time living in imagined alternative versions of his past, where he stays in Mexico with his first wife Dolores (Hayek) or where he left his family to live on a Greek Island, than in present-day New York with his concerned daughter, Molly (Fanning), and his estranged ex-wife Rita (Laura Linney). It is the latest intimate, if star-studded, drama from the British director of Orlando, Ginger & Rosa and The Party.

Potter said the original story was inspired by her brother, who had a form of early onset dementia. The drama was shot over four days in three countries.

Speaking to the film's theme of paths not taken, Potter said it reflected her view of life.

"There is a lot of focus these days on identity, but I tend to think there is a crowd in everyone and we pick one and tend to perform it as 'me.' We are full of 'I could have been a contender,'" the director said.

Hayek said it was a pleasure to be able to act in her mother tongue in The Roads Not Taken. She noted that this was her first film in competition in Berlin since the 1995 Mexican feature Midaq Alley.

"It was a film in Spanish and now I'm back in Berlin with a which Javier [Bardem] and I also talk in Spanish." It was never a challenge, she said, "to speak poetry in Spanish."

Bardem admitted it was, however, a challenge to add a Mexican accent to his Spanish for the film. "Salma helped by laughing at me a lot."

Bleecker Street will bow The Roads Not Taken in select theaters in the U.S. on March 13.