Javier Bardem Talks ‘Dune 2’, Cancel Culture And His 2016 Flop ‘The Last Face’ In Cannes

“It was a disaster!” he beamed. But I was laughing. Now [critics] cannot post reviews on the same day of the opening, because the opening of that movie that day was like a funeral. We worked hard on making that movie—I haven’t done any movie where people didn’t work hard. I mean, it was a [misfire] of a movie, in my opinion. You keep on doing what you need to do. Right? I have my own idea about what that movie was. I mean, it’s like life.” I was like, ‘Yes—this is what it is to make movies.’ Sometimes you do No Country for Old Men, sometimes you do [a film like] this one, and it is not important whether it’s great or bad. People saw that, people shared that, and the whole rules of the festival changed after that. “But, let me tell you, it was a great disaster. But it was a missed [opportunity]. It’s good to come to a festival like Cannes and be booed and be reminded that what we do can be horrific, because otherwise we think of ourselves too highly.
When the interview went to audience questions, there was an audible intake of breath at the mention of Sean Penn’s 2016 Cannes Competition entry The Last Face, a critically panned love story in which Bardem played a relief worker. Luckily, the actor burst into a smile.
“I was 20 years old and life was different,” he said, “and also the way of making movies was different. Today, the most a movie can last onscreen is a month-and-a-half or two months. Asked to cast his mind back to the early days, Bardem, a four-time Oscar nominee and winner for playing Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, pointed out that he made his debut at a time when celluloid was the norm. So we live in a different time of speed and lack of—I don’t know—some kind of attention [span], because we have so many choices to put our attention to that it’s hard to define just one. Movies were an event, an event that would open in a theater and might last for a year if it went well.
So what I remember the most from those days is the pace. You would do a role and you would spend the whole time preparing that role, and you would do the movie. Now, we are going so fast, and I feel sorry for the people who are starting out now. It was a different pace.” I don’t know what it means to be trying to make movies today as an actor, or director, or producer, or writer, because the rhythm is so different from where I started. It was a sacred thing, and then it would open and it would create a climate—it would mean something. “But when I started, it was different.
Unusually outspoken for a famous actor, Bardem put that fact down to his upbringing. “My mom was very [politically] active, and my uncle, and I saw that when I was little, so I guess it comes [naturally] with me. [People] are very sensitive about everything, and to have an opinion today is very risky. “I guess I was born into it,” he said. But I think we have to have opinions about things, because otherwise there is no discussion.”” /> It’s good to have conflict—life is conflict. It’s OK to have opposition, otherwise it’s impossible to grow up. Sometimes it creates enemies, but it’s fine to have enemies. I am comfortable with the idea of having an opinion rather than shutting up, especially today.
Dressed down, relaxed and very, very funny, the actor addressed a wide range of topics in a Q&A that covered a lot of ground, from his marriage to Penélope Cruz to his experience on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Javier Bardem addressed a packed Salle Bunuel on Friday as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s 75th birthday celebrations.
Obviously, it’s hard for me sometimes, because people recognize me, but with a mask on [they don’t]. I like the eyes. “I also like to draw,” he said, “and I always draw faces—faces and bodies. I’m addicted to seeing people’s behavior on the street. I like expressions. I’m not interested in landscapes. The only good thing about the f*cking pandemic sh*t is that I can have a mask on—and then I can watch them!” To illustrate his point, Bardem explained that is also a budding artist and avid people-watcher.
They won’t be surprised [by what happens], obviously, because they’ve read the book, but they’ll be surprised by the way they put it together. I was very moved by it. He’s a lovely man.” “I’ve read the new draft,” he said, “and I think they’ve done an amazing job of putting together the pieces in a way that is gonna surprise people. It’s a movie that is full, and you can feel the weight of it, and at the same time [you can enjoy] the spectacularity of it. [I can’t wait] to go back to the desert with those people, and I’m so happy to go back with Denis, who is one of the greatest directors ever. Asked about Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune sequel, he was surprisingly forthcoming.
“Well, I guess that every actor’s dream is to erase themselves into their character,” he mused. “I don’t think that can ever happen. Some people say they’ve done it, but it never happened to me. As for his craft, Bardem revealed that his process is much like any other actor’s. That’s what you’re aiming for when you play a role: to try to find the psychology and the behavior and personality traits that makes that person unique. But even if it doesn’t happen, that’s the aim. That’s the part of my job that I love so much.”

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