LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Spanish actor Javier Bardem has seen his star rise to lofty levels in recent years in Hollywood, and this year he is nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar, which will be given out on February 24.
Many Oscar watchers believe Bardem, 38, is a shoo-in to win for his role as a cold-blooded killer in bleak crime drama “No Country for Old Men,” which was directed by brothers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, who are also up for the best director Oscar.
Bardem was previously Oscar nominated for best lead actor playing a Cuban poet in 2000’s “Before Night Falls,” directed by Julian Schnabel, who also is nominated for the best director Oscar this year with “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.”
Q: So, who are better directors, the Coens or Julian Schnabel?
A: (laughs) “They have things in common. They like to achieve their goals, but the way they approach that is different. The Coens are very generous in welcoming you as part of their process.”
Q: What about Schnabel?
A: “Julian is a man who is always searching as an artist, and he is going to approach the work in a unique way. It is about making a journey without really knowing where he’s heading, and you have to take that leap of faith. And you want to take it because you know he will take you to the right place.”
Q: You said the Coens’ approach is to welcome you into their process. How did that take place in “No Country?”
A: “They give the actors a chance to bring with them what they think is best for the characters. It’s not like mommy and daddy telling you what you have to do, or if you’re doing it right or wrong. They make it feel like you are responsible for the character and you have to pull it off by yourself.”
Q: You’re character is a killer, and he doesn’t talk much.
A: “What I and the Coen brothers tried to do was just to bring some menace with him, so that the first time you see him, you feel that something is wrong and something is going to happen. What it is, we do not know, but we feel insecure. This guy shows something that is uncomfortable to watch, and that is what we tried to achieve.”
Q: How difficult is it to achieve without words?
A: “Well, I‘m always saying that a movie performance is related to the directors that are behind it. To me, this was kind of a dream because the Coens for a long time have been my favorites. I can’t say my performance avoids the common place, I try to do my best. But the Coens avoid the common place. This could have been just a scary guy in a scary movie, but they really achieved something else.”
Q: You always dreamed of working with the Coens, why?
A: “Because you are able to play amazing characters and circumstances that are really unique. They create characters that are not very common and I like that a lot about them.”
Q: A couple Oscar questions. You’ve been in the Oscar race before, is it any easier this time around?
A: “I‘m having much more fun, because you see it from a different perspective. Of course you’re honored that someone would think you are worthy of being considered among these extraordinary performers, but at the same time you have been there before and you know it can be a game, a lottery.”
Q: In a way, its kind of a shame the word “best” is put in front of the winners.
A: “We were in the (Oscar nominee) lunch, and I thought it was beautiful that they picked these movies and we belong to this beautiful list. There always are losers and winners, but in this case there are not losers and winners, just luckier and less luckier.”
Q: Are you dating Penelope Cruz?
A: “I don’t answer that question.”
Q: You’re almost a year from turning 40 years old, do you find characters and roles are changing with age.
A: “Hopefully. I don’t know. What you bring with you as an actor is your life experience, and you want to match up with characters that you can put that into it.”