Q&A: Bardem is excited for US arrival of 'The Good Boss'

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This image released by Cohen Media Group shows Javier Bardem, center, in "The Good Boss," a film by Fernando Len de Aranoa. (Cohen Media Group via AP)

NEW YORK – Javier Bardem is confident that audiences in America will enjoy “The Good Boss” as much as moviegoers in Spain when the film arrives in the U.S. later this month.

“When we were doing screenings in Los Angeles and New York and some other places in the states, when we were presenting the movie for the Oscars, the theaters were packed and people were laughing and having a great time and also, (gasp), holding their breath at the end when they understand what they were laughing about,” Bardem said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

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Fernando León de Aranoa’s satire about corporate corruption opens August 26 in New York and Los Angeles before a nationwide rollout that comes months after the film won six Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars) and was shortlisted to the Academy Award for best international feature film.

“I think the reaction is pretty much the same everywhere we went, in Spain and out of Spain, and that speaks volumes of the quality of the story and the movie and the character and the dialogues. So I expect them to have a great time, to laugh and see some of their own work experiences on screen.”

In “The Good Boss” (“El Buen Patrón”), Bardem portrays Julio Blanco, the owner of an industrial scales manufacturing business that goes to great lengths to solve any problems from his workers in time while anxiously awaiting a visit by a committee that could give his company an award for excellence.

It's a very different character from Bardem's portrayal of Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos,” which earned him his fourth Oscar nomination earlier this year. The Spanish star won the Academy Award for best supporting actor in 2008 for “No Country for Old Men” and competed for best actor in 2001 and 2011 for “Before Night Falls” and “Biutiful”, respectively.

In a recent interview from Budapest, where he is filming the second installment of “Dune,” Bardem spoke about “The Good Boss”, his acting process, and the impact that fatherhood has had on his life. The actor and his wife, Academy Award-winner Penélope Cruz, have two children together: Leo, 11, and Luna, 9.

Remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: “The Good Boss” arrives in the US after the success of “Being the Ricardos.” How did you go from one role to the other? What is your process?

BARDEM: I guess the process is to really trust the good writing of the scriptwriters and follow their leads, follow what they’ve done so beautifully. In this case, we’re talking about Aaron Sorkin and Fernando León, both extraordinarily talented directors and writers. So, there’s a proposal there on the page, and you just go with the proposal because there are steps beautifully put together by the writer that tells you where to go. On the other hand, I try to prepare the roles with my acting coach, Juan Carlos Corazza, who I work with since I was 20 years old and he’s my friend and my mentor, he helps me a big deal to get to the place where I understand organically what a character is like.

AP: The character of Julio Blanco, as you said in your acceptance speech at the Goya Awards earlier this year, has so many hues. How did you find his voice? Did you get inspired by someone in particular?

BARDEM: You know, I was talking to the director and the speeches that (the character) does, because he does quite a few speeches, we thought if we do it with the normal kind of very in its place kind of voice, like the guy knows how to speak, he likes to give speeches, it will transcend to a place that we don’t want to be. There must be something that really doesn’t work and tells us that there is something that doesn’t fit quite well with what he’s saying. And at the same time, in my country, in Spain, we’re used to that kind of energy, to that kind of profile of person that is very warm and fun and close, and at the same time is stealing your wallet. So that’s what we tried to find in the voice.

AP: In the movie, you also play a family man who discovers that the girl he just slept with is the daughter of a very good friend whom he hadn’t seen since she was little. As a father, how did you take that scene, and how has being a father affected your approach to acting?

BARDEM: Well, I cannot even think what would that be like if that was my daughter (laughs). But how does being a father affects me? In every way. It affects me in every way as a human being, and there’s no way you can separate one from the other. It makes you more empathetic and more aware of your own faults and limitations, and also aware of somebody else’s needs — not wishes or desires, but needs. And you have to postpone your own needs for their needs, and that’s a beautiful thing to do.

It's there, in that interaction, that you find the best of yourself. And I guess acting is the same thing. When you are on your own, you’re too concentrated in your own belly button, thinking about what you want to do and what you want to become and what you want to make people understand. You lose track of what’s the purpose of this job, which is to be in service of something bigger than yourself.

AP: Have your children seen any of your movies?

BARDEM: Now I’m making movies for them! I’ve done one with a crocodile in which I sing and dance, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”, and I’ve done “The Little Mermaid” (both currently in post-production.) They've seen “Being the Ricardos!” They liked it a lot, although at times — they're young and there was a lot of bla-bla-bla, a wonderful blablabla by Aaron Sorkin — but well, when they saw me dance and sing they laughed because they saw me rehearse at home. And they have seen “Pirates” (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”). Leo, my boy, has seen “Dune”, and here I am, making movies that they can also see.

AP: Over decades now, you’ve been widely recognized and awarded for your work. Is this something that still excites you, or are you used to it?

BARDEM: More than excite, what surprises me is the fact that I’m still 53 years old and I’m still working, that I’m still making a living doing this, that they keep calling me and that, from time to time, they like what I do. That’s a lot! It still surprises me in a real way, and I don’t want it to stop surprising me, I don’t want to stop caring about it. I want to keep trying to do my best and sometimes you have to remind yourself because you take things for granted that you shouldn’t.


Sigal Ratner-Arias está en Twitter como https://twitter.com/sigalratner

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