Sep 12, 2007

Vini, Vidi, Bardem

Yesterday night, O dear mortals, I had the privilege of attending a live interview with Javier Bardem, who is a magnificent actor and one of the most wonderful interview subjects I've ever seen. It is to his enormous credit that despite the very tepid, asskissing questioning and understandable but completely inappropriate flirtiness of Lynn Hirschberg, Bardem generously delivered very interesting information about his craft and his approach as an actor. She kept interrupting him with silly, giggly comments but he kept going back to his line of thought, gently bent on making the points he started out with. That he is one of the most effortlessly charming, intelligent, sensible and divine beings that ever graced this Earth also helped.
It has happened to me several times when attending this kind of events, that when otherwise fine reporters and intelligent journalists get to interview a famous subject in front of an audience, they become starstruck and squander everybody's time by fawning shamelessly. In Miss Hirschberg's case, she wasn't as terrible as that monster of brownosing, James Lipton, but she was gossipy and flirty and not serious enough. Bardem saved her from ridicule with his charm. People were saying she made him feel at ease, and it may be true to a certain point, but I think it was the other way around. Healthily acknowledging he has a huge ego, he was also charmingly self-deprecating. Utterly winning.
Now, it drives me crazy that she was obsessed with the fact that Bardem didn't speak English when he did Before Night Falls. It is an amazing feat, particularly since not only did he act flawlessly in a language he didn't master, but he used a pitch perfect Cuban accent on top of it, which she was too ignorant to even acknowledge. But how much time can one spend reminding the guy that he didn't speak English? She tried to save it with protestations that she can't speak Spanish (stupidly making him say things in Spanish so she could swoon) and that her French is bad, but it seemed childish and provincial. Get over it.
Bardem really spoke of his work as an actor with great openness and passion and he shared part of his approach. It struck me that either he is even a better actor than we all think, or he is not one of those actors who are tortured by their profession. He seems to enjoy it and respect it deeply, and his commitment is extremely serious. He spoke candidly about the envy actors of his caliber sometimes get in their countries of origin and was very generous, and seemingly totally sincere, with his praise for Antonio Banderas, who he claimed, correctly, paved the way for the international careers of people like him.
Thinking of his movies, it is worth pointing out that he has not yet sold himself out to stupid choices. His is a pretty solid resume and one can only hope he will not easily succumb to bad Hollywood temptations.

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