Bond baddie Javier Bardem hails ‘Skyfall’ director
LOS ANGELES—Spanish actor and Bond villain Javier Bardem lavishes praise on Oscar-winning British director Sam Mendes, saying he turned the new 007 movie “Skyfall” into a “creative laboratory” for the cast.
In an interview with AFP ahead of the 23rd Bond movie’s European release, Bardem praised Mendes for encouraging actors to improvise, an ‘astonishing” freedom given the enormous scale of the 007 franchise.
Daniel Craig plays James Bond for the third time in the movie — which had a red-carpet premiere in London Tuesday — with even more attention than usual focused on the project in the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film.
“The first time I saw a James Bond movie, I was 12 years old and it was ‘Moonraker’,” Bardem told AFP. “Since then I have seen them all,” said the actor, who plays cyber-terrorist Raoul Silva.
“My generation and lots of others grew up with James Bond, and it was a luxury and an honor to be invited to be in the film celebrating its 50th anniversary,” added the Oscar-winning actor.
The movie, released on Friday in most of Europe and on November 9 in North America, is a first Bond movie for Mendes, who won an Oscar for 1999′s “American Beauty,” and is also known for “Revolutionary Road” in 2008.
“What he’s done is to add a classic touch from the biggest James Bond films, while bringing more complexity to the characters, their relationships and the dialogue,” said Bardem.
“That combination makes the movie work on all levels,” he added.
He continued, of Mendes: “He is someone who works very hard, who loves to get involved, to try different things, to improvise. On set there was an atmosphere like a creative laboratory, we tried all sorts of things.
“For a film on the scale of ‘Skyfall,’ that was absolutely astonishing.”
The creative freedom also applies to Bardem’s role as Silva, whose first scene in the movie is a striking long-shot in which he walks from the distance straight up to the camera.
“Sam and I suggested several ideas, and worked on how to handle the same scene with different tones and different nuances,” said Bardem. “That produced something, and Sam used that to develop the scene as it appears in the film.”
The same goes for what his character looks like, including the blond hair and strangely child-like psychopathic smile, said Bardem, who is married to Spanish actress Penelope Cruz.
“The physical appearance of a character must always, absolutely always, be justified dramatically. You can’t do anything gratuitously, otherwise it just becomes a display of an actor’s vanity,” he said.
“With Silva, we wanted to create situations which were uncomfortable for the characters around him. And this difficulty had to be shown in the physical sense, very explicitly,” he added.
“That’s how we came up with the idea of an appearance which is uncomfortable to watch,” which makes the filmgoer wonder “What’s happening with this guy,” added Bardem.
Bond star Craig, Barden’s nemesis in the latest film, has admitted to having “stalked” the Spaniard to appear in “Skyfall.”
“I’m one of Javier’s biggest fans,” said the Briton. “I’m a bit of a stalker in fact, because I actually did stalk him to get him for this part — I went to a party he was at so I could ask him to do it, and he said ‘Yes’.”
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