Imagine this: Javier Bardem stops by your place unexpectedly, and he just won't leave. You have a pleasant enough chat about his role as the villain in the new James Bond film,Skyfall
, opening today. "Everything has to make sense with the story you're telling," he says. "Otherwise it is a firework without meaning."
But though Bardem is charming and handsome and has some great stories, you have places to go.
So how do you get the actor to clear from the room within 20 seconds? Well, one way would be to ask if he is considering a stud-for-hire service aimed at spinsters who want to carry his guaranteed to be at-least-half-handsome child. (We learned that the hard way.)
"That is a very complex question," he tells us when we give it a shot. After we go through the ins and outs and do everything short of opening a pop-up business plan for him, the actor -- who clearly cares more for art than commerce -- laughs and says, "Oh, Jesus. I think it's time to wrap this one."
Which, the lonely and childless should note, is not the same thing as a no.
Weirding out Javier Bardem is a lot like the process the actor undertook to create his flamboyant character, Silva, who stands out as a true original in 50 years of kitten-stroking, nut-lasering Bond villains.
"People expect the Bond villain to be somebody who is a little bit out there," he says, "and you have to do that without losing the sensation of belonging to the Earth."
And Bardem's Bond villain is certainly a bit out there. He's got an awesome hideout on an abandoned Japanese island full of massive broken statues. His idea of a parlor trick is to shoot a glass of Scotch off the head of a beautiful woman. He's got bleached eyebrows and hair (more on that in a moment, Bardem Hair Watchers) and instead of stroking kittens, he strokes James Bond's thighs.
Yes, in a scene of James Bond slash-fiction brought to life, Bardem ties Daniel Craig to a chair and attempts to seduce him. And while no doubt many would want to do the same, Bardem's character has different motivations.
"Everything of Silva, including the looks, is based on this idea of creating something of a spectacle to the other, whoever that might be. To put them in a place where they don't know how to proceed."
And those looks! Like that of his character in No Country for Old Men, his hairstyle in Skyfall is the sort of high-risk, high-reward cut best left sported by the professionals. "I'm a great believer of stunt double work," Bardem says of his action scenes in the film, though the blond eyebrows were his own. So we had to ask at what point a hair style comes into his creation of a character like this one.
"It all came together," he tells us. "How does he look? Well, we tried different things. Nothing specific. We brought some pictures and this idea that when you watch the movie and rewind, you understand why this guy looks like that. That had to be here in the physicality. And we tried different things and then one day (he snaps) it happened. It could be something else. It could always be something else. But let's try it and see if it works."
Which begs the question, if the look in the photo above is what he chose, what did he reject?
"I cannot say."
But if we suggest a few, perhaps he'll tell us if we're right? He winks. A redhead with pigtails from the Wendy's hamburger logo?
Ever-coy Javier Bardem shakes his head. Something like Donald Trump?
"Donald Trump," he chuckles, a laugh into which we choose to infer as much amusement as horror. Spray-on hair?
"The spray-on hair?"
Like John Travolta.
"Oh, yeah," he says with very clear recognition of that strange, strange stuff on John Travolta's skull. "No. It was quite easy. We looked for it. Again, you need a good hair and makeup artist."
It doesn't hurt to be soooooooo good-looking, though. Minor spoiler alert, but there's a moment in the film when Silva removes a metal plate from behind his cheek, causing half of his face to casually cave in. And even in that moment, he's still probably one of the best-looking people in the world.
"That is insane," he tells us, handsomely. Like, reallyreallyreally handsomely. At which point, we zoned out as he told us important things about craft and creation. Things like:
"The character represents, as well as we tried, the theme of the movie, which is the renovation between the classic and the new. They confront each other and there's a contradiction: do we have to renew ourselves? What do we sacrifice? And in the name of what? Everything has to be implied in the character in that we imply something classic in him and open it to a new world."
The thing is, though, Bardem is predictably amazing in the film. To watch him in Skyfall is to question why it's taken so long for people to realize that that no one can do evil quite like Bardem. But that's as much Bardem's choice as anyone else's.
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"I'm not a huge consumer of action movies," he says. "I've seen all the James Bond movies but that's different. I've seen them since I was 12.
"I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I wanted to be James Bond. I wanted to be Jaws. When you're a kid, you want to be everything. That's the magic of being a kid, no? Then you relax once you're older and you can't do shit. You are are what you are and that's fair enough. To embrace that is not easy."
Skyfall opens in theaters everywhere today.