Spanish actor Javier Bardem was interviewed by Time Magazine a few years ago.
Watch the interview and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for Intermediate and Advanced students.
1 Bardem still goes to acting school.
2 Only one per cent of actors are wealthy.
3 Bardem is a very instinctive actor.
4 Bardem used to sing.
5 Bardem played rugby for twenty-three years.
6 Rugby taught Bardem how teams work.
7 Bardem played rugby professionally.
8 Someone helps Bardem prepare his roles in English films.
9 Bardem knows how to drive.
An Oscar-winner for his chilling performance as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem stars as the romantic lead in Woody Allen’s latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Today he’s taking questions from Time.com readers. Do you think you’ll ever explore your acting abilities to their furthest limits?
Well, I start going to my acting school when I was 18 years old and now that I’m 39 I’m still going every year. And I go there for several reasons. One of them is to find the pleasure of acting, which sometimes you could lose it, and you have to go back there and get a hold on . . . of what it was that when you were young that made go ahead and be an actor. Acting is not an easy choice. I mean, people usually think that actors are people that work constantly. That’s not true. That’s one percent of the actors in the world. Most of them are unemployed, and it’s a hard job. So if you choose that it’s because you really love, and you really need to do it. And I felt that way. And I’m lucky enough to make a living out of that.
How do you make sure your performances are distinct from one film to the next?
When you read something, if it hits you in a very instinctive way, then it’s something that you feel like it’s worth to do. The body doesn’t lie, and when you are an actor or someone that is theoretically creative, you have to give more room to the instinct. So when I’m performing, it’s because I feel that I have to do that and only that because the body said so. And once it’s done, it’s done. It happened in that very moment, and I don’t want to see it again. And that’s the great thing about performing, that it’s something that happened in that moment, and only that moment. And when you see it on screen, for example, if it’s a movie, it’s weird to see it, because it’s not… most of the time it’s not what you tried to do, it’s something that happened there. It’s something that it [sic] came out naturally and you are surprised and you don’t never know if it’s good or not. It’s the people who is going to tell you if they like it or not.
You have a unique voice, do you sing?
Well, thank you for that. I don’t know what this person means by unique. It can be a unique horrible voice or unique beautiful voice. I don’t know. My voice comes from my big neck. I have a big neck. I played rugby for a lot of time so I had to reinforce my neck muscle. No, I don’t sing.
Well, since you brought up rugby, we did have a rugby question from James Sho in Beverly Hills who says, are you still an avid rugby player?
I’m a huge rugby fan, yeah, European rugby. I started playing rugby when I was nine years old and I played until I was twenty-three so it was fourteen years, and I live it. I think it’s a sport that taught me a lot of things, among all of them one that is very helpful if you’re doing movies, which is to have the sense of a team, to know that you are only one piece in the whole thing, that you have to do what is needed to be done, no more than that. There’s no room for anything more than that. There’s no room for the ego.
Do you miss playing at all?
Yes, but I’m old, I’m old for that and the rugby nowadays is so different from when I was playing because now it’s professional and you can tell. When I was playing rugby I was like a little fat man, yes, holding the ball and going through the field. Now they run like, like gazelles, and it’s spectacular the rugby nowadays.
Is rehearsing for an English-speaking role any different for you compared to rehearsing for a Spanish-speaking role?
Totally. You need to work hard in order to own the language, own the words. I’m always saying that this is like surgery. You have to put emotion and sensations into the words that are, otherwise, blank, emotionally blank to you because you haven’t had the experience in your life to use those words, to live with those words. So it’s a matter of really sit down with a great dialect coach and work little by little until you own those dialogues, and that takes time, but I love that work, I’m not lazy, I can be everything, but I’m not lazy.
Lucy Dagastino in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, asks, Javier, have you learned how to drive yet?
Yes, and if you see the movie from Woodie Allen you will see me driving one of the most… one of the nicest cars I’ve ever seen in my life, so good… I don’t know the name because I don’t like cars but it looked good and with Scarlett on the side looked amazing. And that’s me driving. It took me hours to learn to drive. One little thing from here to there but finally I did it. I don’t drive. I don’t have a driving licence and, you know what, I’m scared of cars. I don’t like cars. I don’t care about planes, I don’t care about helicopters, I don’t care about ships but I care about cars and… I don’t know, I never had an accident but I guess… I think it’s like… they’re like bullets, speeding bullets, going like that, I don’t know. It’s like in No Country for Old Men I had to drive this huge pick-up, and I learned, it’s fine, I didn’t kill anybody. My colleagues were always like action, I said, come on man, but I don’t have a driving licence. One day, I guess, I[’ll] have to go to the school and learn how to drive.
Are there any actors you’re dying to work with?
Well, I’m always saying that I don’t believe in God, I believe in Al Pacino and it’s true. For me Al Pacino… it’s, I mean, I don’t know, I get crazy about his performance, I learn so much what he did, what he does, so yes, if I ever have a phone call saying, do you like to work with Pacino, I’ll go crazy.
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