SPANISH ACTOR ON CREST OF HOLLYWOOD WAVE

Actor Javier Bardem accepted the Golden Globe awarded to him last week for best supporting actor in the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men as nothing to get too excited about. Apart from the praise for the film itself, Bardem’s portrayal of the psychotic hitman Anton Chigurgh is drawing critical acclaim and he is the hot favourite for an Oscar in the same category. Bardem said the inspiration was there in the book: “Also the way that the Coens wanted to portray him – they gave me very good clues to follow in order to understand how to do that character.” But he said it was only after visiting the hairdresser that he fully grasped how to play the chilling character: “They brought this idea of that insane haircut and this helped me tremendously because then you have this guy with this methodical, almost mathematical haircut – totally insane out of place – and that gives you an idea to follow about his way of achieving his goals.” In this case Anton Chigurgh’s goal is to recover money from a drug deal that’s gone wrong. As the plot unfolds he systematically kills and eliminates virtually everyone that crosses his path in the cat and mouse drama set in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. The critics have hailed No Country For Old Men as a return to form for Joel and Ethan Coen. But Bardem reckons the movie’s success has a lot to do with its ending. He says it’s good the audience are left asking questions about what they’ve just seen: “I think that’s what makes the difference between a good movie and a brilliant movie. This is a brilliant movie in that the ending gives room for you to, well, understand or try to see what happened there and what’s behind those sentences and those characters rather than be manipulated.” Bardem has more than two dozen films on his curriculum and he was also the first Spaniard to be shortlisted for a best actor Oscar in 2000 for his role in Before Night Falls. He said it would be “weird” if he were shortlisted again: “I mean it’s good to be recognised of course. We all want to be recognised. We all have our egos and vanities but at the same time it’s something so out of your hands and it’s never been the goal. So whether it happens or not it’s something that you can’t think about. And if it happens you just have to enjoy it and not be pressured by it.” But pressure invariably goes hand in hand with international success and media scrutiny. It has made him reflect on the downside to being an actor: “Sometimes it’s a hard job because also you have to go and promote yourself and that’s something that I don’t especially like.”

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