Javier Bardem, who currently has his work as King Triton in The Little Mermaid on the bill, is undoubtedly the most talented Spanish actor who achieved success in Hollywood. Not surprisingly, he was the first from his country to be nominated for an Oscar (three times as Best Actor), in addition to winning it in 2007 as Supporting Actor.
In his beginnings, since the '90s, he excelled in films by renowned Hispanic directors such as Bigas Lunas (Las edades de Lulú, Jamón jamón), Pedro Almodóvar (Tacones lejanos, Carne trémula), Alex de la Iglesia (Perdita Durango) and Alejandro Amenábar (Mar adentro).
Then he went to the Anglo-Saxon world thanks to films such as Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel), No Place for the Weak (by the Coen brothers), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (by Woody Allen, with who would later be his wife Penélope Cruz), Biútiful (by Alejandro González Iñárritu), Skyfall (from the James Bond saga), Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge and the most recent Duna and Being the Ricardos.
Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, at the Oscars, in 2022. Photo: AP
His Argentine secret
In Mexico City, during interviews to promote the premiere of the new live-action version of The Little Mermaid, Javier Bardem chatted with Clarín and his face lit up at the mention of his theater teacher, the Argentine -born in Córdoba- Juan Carlos Corazza, who has a famous acting school in Madrid.
"For the actors and actresses of the world," he exclaimed, "it is a pleasure, a luxury and a gift that Juan Carlos Corazza exists and is happy to share his talent and humanity with all of us!"
And he gave more details: "For me he is a teacher on a very deep, artistic and also personal level. Whenever I can, I go to him. Most of my characters I prepare with him and this time I was in a seminar and we were working on Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht."
Without pause, he added: "And it is wonderful to belong to a group of people where there are people from 20 years old until maybe me who was the oldest, with 54, and to see that we all share the same fear, the same insecurity and the same desire to get rid of things that hinder us to tell a story. "
Javier Bardem, signing autographs before the premiere of "The Little Mermaid" in Mexico City. Press photo courtesy of Getty/Disney
"You've been working with him for a long time, even Penelope too.
-Yes, yes, yes. Penelope too. She worked and prepared a lot with Cristina Rota, also from Argentina. They have a lot of talent in Argentina! You were one of the first to drink from Russian theater and when (Lee) Strasberg went to Argentina he was amazed with the interpretive quality of the people who were working there!
You are very advanced people at the interpretive level! That is why they bear fruit for many people like Cristina and Juan Carlos, with extraordinary quality. I know of the actors and actresses that are there, that we all know.
Javier Bardem when he received the Best Actor award for "El buen patrón", during the Platino Awards in Madrid, in 2022. Photo: EFE
-How is your relationship with Argentina, did you ever come to film or promote?
-I was never in Argentina, but I have very good friends in Argentina and outside Argentina, that is, Argentines in Spain. I love Argentina! I've been listening to Argentine since I was 14 years old... I love Los Pumas; I support Los Pumas when I go to a world championship. And what am I going to tell you about the World Cup? I cried when they beat Argentina, and I'm not Argentine!
-And the music?
-The music too, of course, everything. I know what you have, you are very exalted in many things.
Heading to the Disney World
-How did you get summoned for "The Little Mermaid"?
-I chased the paper! I texted the director saying, "If there's a chance King Triton has a Spanish accent, please think of me."
The poster of Javier Bardem in "The Little Mermaid", 2023 version, with actors.
I've been wanting to work with director Rob Marshall for years, and I, at 54, have seen this Little Mermaid classic several times and shared it with my children. I thought there was a small chance, but it was a bit of a shot in the air, because I didn't think they would say yes. But it coincided that they were thinking of offering it to me on that same day that I sent the text, with which the destination was written there.
What did your daughter say when she found out?
"I immediately said, "Luna, I'm going to do The Little Mermaid" and he asked me if I was going to play Ariel. I said no, for everyone's sake. (laughs)
Premiere of The Little Mermaid in Mexico City, with Halle Bailey and Javier Bardem. Press photo courtesy of Getty/Disney
-You look happy.
I'm happy with life, it's my pink time. It is the time of pink, blue, of being able to share my work with my children. That they recognize that there is a sense behind everything when Dad goes on a trip or when Dad is studying or singing or dancing at home and they say "Please, Dad sit down, it's ridiculous to see you."
-Within the modifications for this version was added a scene in which Triton cleans the garbage left by humans in the sea.
I think it's beautiful and important that we recognize that and see it. We have an important responsibility to our seas. I'm very proud and very grateful that they included that scene in the film.
-What do you think of the message of this new version?
The Little Mermaid is now a strong young woman who struggles to create the future she desires for herself and not to please anyone, but to become the woman she dreams of being, beyond what has been predestined for her. That's important to see for new generations and it's important, as King Triton does at the end, to support that.
Women's empowerment is basic and we as men have to blindly support it and it's one of the things that I think this review of The Little Mermaid does best.
Javier Bardem in a scene from "The Little Mermaid", characterized as King Triton, father of Princess Ariel.
The choice of projects
-How is that choice of work, in general you seek to do something totally different from the previous film, or the risk of being too fussy and left with nothing?
-Yes, that can happen (laughs). The truth is, I don't know! When you start, maybe you measure things more, and the steps to take are more mental.
But now I'm calmer, in the sense that I do what I feel like doing and that I feel makes sense to do, for whatever reason. It can even be for monetary reasons, uh, I have nothing against that. I always do it with the same desire to try to take a smaller step in learning, to be able to do it, to try to do it better. But I'm not looking for diversity or variety.