The unhealthy information is that, at the final minute, my interview with Javier Bardem is modified from being a face-to-face encounter to at least one performed by the much less dangerous technique of video chat (rattling you, Omicron!) But the excellent news is this implies I get to snoop round Bardem’s house in Madrid, the place he Zooms me from, and which he shares along with his spouse, the actor Penélope Cruz, and their two kids, Leonardo, 10, and Luna, eight. OK, I don’t really see the entire home, but he does give me a panoramic view of his examine whereas his youngsters shout and play outdoors.
“You possibly can see my little bookcase right here,” Bardem says, selecting up his laptop computer and giving me the grand tour. “And my map of the world. It’s very chaotic.”
It is vitally a lot not a elaborate oak-lined library, but an area that appears nearer to most individuals’s junk room. Containers of previous books and DVDs are ready to be donated to a library, Fellini movie posters are hung half-heartedly on the partitions and a desk is piled with what can solely be described as mishmash. Like everybody else on the planet, the Bardem-Cruz family spent lockdown clearing out their house.
Did he and Penélope dump all their couture Valentino clothes and Armani fits at the native charity store? “No, we gave it to this church, the place the priest indoctrinates along with his personal instance, serving to immigrants and individuals who have come out of jail. He made good use of the issues we supplied.”
So should you spot some particularly well-dressed former convicts in Madrid, now you understand why. Bardem, the first Spaniard to be nominated for a greatest actor Oscar (for the attractive Earlier than Evening Falls in 2000), and the first to win greatest supporting actor (for his terrifying efficiency in 2007’s No Nation for Outdated Males), has the look of a person who’s fortunately off-duty, in his studying glasses and rumpled T-shirt.
Unhappily for him, he has to speak to me about his latest movie, the sparky Being the Ricardos, Aaron Sorkin’s biographical drama about the I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball (performed by Nicole Kidman) and her on- and off-screen husband, the Cuban bandleader and actor Desi Arnaz (Bardem). The movie is nice on the weirdness of Ball and Arnaz’s marriage, the two simulating a contented home life on air and residing a extra difficult one off it. Sorkin condenses the most tumultuous occasions of Ball’s life right into a single week, together with when the actor was questioned by the Home Un-American Actions Committee about being a communist, and her husband’s infidelity was being splashed throughout the newspapers.
Arnaz fled to the US as a near-penniless teenager to change into considered one of the greatest celebrities in the nation. But Bardem doesn’t underplay his weaknesses, particularly for different girls. “In Nineteen Thirties Cuba, Desi was taught to continuously show his male energy, and that [machismo culture] is one thing I can relate to, for certain,” he says.
I Love Lucy ran from 1951 to 1957, and would usually entice greater than 40 million viewers every week in the US. Bardem, 52, grew up on the Canary Islands and was, at greatest, vaguely conscious of it. But he watched and listened to all the recordings of Arnaz that he may discover, and he fares higher than Kidman in the movie, who appears slightly hemmed in doing an impersonation of Ball. Bardem is looser, and has extra enjoyable with the position, though he definitely took it severely. Arnaz died in 1986 and day-after-day earlier than filming, Bardem would attempt to entry his power, “like a medium … I would say: ‘OK, I am right here, if you wish to are available in and specific your self,’” he says. Simply as I’m worrying we’re tipping in to thespy woo-woo territory, he laughs. “I didn’t try this when I performed Pablo Escobar [in 2017’s Loving Pablo]. I didn’t wish to invoke him in any respect!”
Some complained when Bardem, a Spaniard, was solid in the position of a Cuban, though there have been no objections in the early 2000s when he performed the Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas in Earlier than Evening Falls. “It was a unique time, proper? But that is what actors do, we create different individuals’s lives. That may embrace origins or sexual orientation, accents and behaviours. I assume we generally go too far in blocking the freedom of creativity by framing what an actor can and can’t do,” he says.
Sorkin recently compared the McCarthy era depicted in the film with the cancel culture era today. A probably extra fruitful parallel might be drawn between how Ball’s profession was nearly destroyed by a tabloid allegation – that she was a communist – and a preferred tendency in the present day to conflate allegations with proof. Bardem starred in Woody Allen’s 2008 movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and he has defended the director towards repeat accusations that he’s a baby molester; Allen was cleared by two investigations in the Nineties.
“Pointing fingers at somebody may be very harmful if it hasn’t been legally confirmed. Past that, it’s simply gossip,” Bardem says.
A number of actors labored with Allen over the previous 20 years, solely to denounce him when the public temper turned towards him. One such actor was Rebecca Corridor, who co-starred with Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Has he spoken to her about this? “No, I haven’t seen Rebecca in lots of, a few years. To inform you the reality, I don’t observe any of that, what individuals mentioned. I attempt to go the place logic dictates, which is: let’s observe the guidelines that exist to ascertain whether or not somebody is responsible or harmless. If the case re-opens and he’s confirmed to be responsible, I might be the first to say: ‘What a horrible factor.’ But to date, I haven’t seen that.”
This summer time, Bardem’s beloved mom, Pilar, died, and he mentions her usually. “Each choice I make now, I assume: ‘Would this make my mom proud?’ And if not, I instantly reject it. That’s a strong legacy to go away, but she was a really highly effective individual,” he says.
She was, clearly, a helluva girl. A leftwing activist and celebrated actor in Spain identified broadly as “La Bardem”, Pilar divorced her husband when Bardem was three and later wrote in her memoirs that her ex-husband had a “violent will”. She raised her son and his two older siblings all on her personal. “In Sixties Spain, it was a really onerous time to be a girl, particularly divorced with three youngsters and an actress. You have been known as a prostitute,” he says.
Bardem was not a robust scholar – “I can’t be sitting for 5 hours; I’m sorry, I’m not that man” – and he channelled his power into rugby and portray, then ultimately appearing. He comes from a protracted line of Spanish actors and film-makers and remembers his mom saying: “In case you’re going to dedicate your self to this craft, respect it deeply for the surname you’re carrying.” By the age of 21, he was working with administrators akin to Pedro Almodóvar and Bigas Luna.
How would he really feel if his youngsters wished to be actors like their mother and father? He laughs. “Nicely, they’re very expressive and like to speak, so it’s a risk. I keep in mind when Penélope was pregnant with Leonardo, we went out to dinner in New York after the premiere of Biutiful,” he says, referring to the 2010 Alejandro González Iñárritu movie, for which he received his third Oscar nomination. “And God – in any other case often called Al Pacino – mentioned hello to us and we requested him to bless the stomach. I mentioned: ‘I hope he’s not an actor’, and Pacino mentioned, ‘Yeah, proper.’ Then there was a silence and he checked out me and mentioned smiling, ‘I hope he’s.’”
Bardem and Cruz by no means speak about their non-public life, but as he has given me this inch, I seize a mile. The 2 fell in love whereas making Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2007, but that they had labored collectively earlier than, in 1992 on Lunas’s Jamón Jamón. Did they’ve emotions for each other then?
“After all we had emotions for one another, but we had emotions for every part that moved then! She was 16, I was 21, like, luggage of hormones! It was the first time we went away to make a movie, it was her first movie. Life itself was opening in entrance of us. Then we went completely different routes and she or he did wonderful issues. So I guess these emotions have been stored in a field till they have been open,” he says.
Does he credit score Allen with getting them collectively? “After all we credit score him. He reunited us – numerous credit score!”
Did they invite him to their wedding ceremony? “No, no!” he laughs at the thought. “But I don’t assume he would have come. I don’t know the way sociable he’s.”
Bardem has mentioned that seeing his mom’s wrestle to seek out work proved to him that an actor can by no means really feel solely safe of their job. Certainly three Oscar nominations and a win has given him some sense of safety?
“No! No, no, no, no! When I won the Oscar, I felt nice, but it didn’t make any sense. It was extra: ‘Wow, what is that this? I must earn this now in order that they don’t take it out of my arms!’”
But nobody would argue he didn’t deserve it. His efficiency as Anton Chigurh, the unstoppable killer in the Coen Brothers’ No Nation for Outdated Males, made him considered one of cinema’s nice villains. That, plus his efficiency as the Bond baddie Raoul Silva in Skyfall means many audiences affiliate him with cruelty. But he loathes violence. Is that due to his father?
“No, no, it’s simply that violence by no means helps, it solely harms,” he says.
So taking part in unhealthy guys should require an additional degree of appearing from him.
“Completely! But this goes again to what we have been saying earlier. Making characters who’re removed from you … nicely, that’s what we do for a residing.” Exterior, although, the household is ready. Making a residing is all very nicely, but actual life awaits.
Being the Ricardos in UK cinemas now and on Amazon Prime Video from 21 December.