Javier Bardem has played some iconic characters throughout his career, but he is best known for his work as the villain. He takes on that role once more in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, playing the vengeful Salazar, an undead Spanish sea captain who escapes his ghostly prison in the Devil’s Triangle and kills every pirate he comes across on the seven seas to hunt down and kill Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).
We were recently invited to sit down with our fellow journalists to talk to Bardem about his role in the film and approach to the character. He also revealed his history working with Depp, and how he and his wife share something in common. Check out the full interview below.
Geeks of Doom: You worked with Johnny [Depp] 17 years ago in Nightfalls, talk about the reunion in this film.
Javier Bardem: It was bad. Bad. Because he looks exactly the same than he did 17 years ago. I go “man, what happened? I’ve aged. And he hasn’t.”
But he was exactly the same. Back in the day, 1999, he was a nice gentle guy. Very caring. A generous actor who flew from the States to Veracruz, Mexico to help us with Before Night Falls, Julius Schnabel’s movie. He helped us by playing two roles. I was a little bit starstruck when he came because he’s Johnny Depp and because he’s so nice to come all the way to Mexico. I play this scene where we kiss. We kiss each other. Then he kissed my wife [Penelope Cruz] in Pirates 4, so it’s kind of between the family now. I’ve seen him through the years, and then I was on the set of Pirates 4, and he’s a gentleman. So when I worked with him in this one I was just amazed at how easy it is to be him. Not easy, how skilled he is to be a clown, to become this character so easily. The first time I have to cut the scene and cut the scene because I was laughing. “Here he is. Here’s Jack Sparrow!” He’s a player. He likes to play. He won’t ever let you down. He’s always very caring about the person in front and on set, and is game for working with other actors.
Geeks of Doom: Do you remember your first reaction when you saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean?
Javier Bardem: I was in Iceland, in a tiny little fisherman village, on holiday in 2003. It’s been a while since I saw a pirate film on screen. So I said “I’m very curious to see this.” And I was blown away by Johnny’s work and the movie. But it was Johnny’s work, I was like “wow, that is challenging.” Now we see it so easily, but back in the day. He really took a risk and scored the goal. Since then I’ve seen them all. Some are better than others, but all of them have amazing qualities and amazing production values to it. They are entertaining.
Geeks of Doom: Did it take much convincing for you to join the film?
Javier Bardem: No. I knew the production value of it was going to be fantastic. I was on the Pirates 4 set and I saw how everything worked out so well. It was more about what to play and what to bring. Jerry [Bruckheimer] from the very beginning was, from the very beginning, was open to bringing ideas, and me along with the directors started to create the character. The way he would talk and speak. The look of it was decided already, but we created the character together. You think everything is by the book, but it’s not, it’s the opposite. They really encourage you to bring your input.
Geeks of Doom: In the film Salazar wants to become human again, is there anything that you want as much as him?
Javier Bardem: I would love to become human again. (laughs) My mom told me that I was human at three-years-old, then something happened. I became an actor. (laughs) The other thing that I want the most is love and peace. I know it sounds cheap, but c’mon, it’s too much pain in this world. That’s also the reason why you are a father. You want to make a movie that entertains. That brings joy and laughter. It is as important as to do another kind of movie that helps you to reflect on other things. It’s not less important. The risk is being in a good one. And I think this is a good one. The ending of the movie is spectacular. My hair is like crazy, no? The first time I saw it on screen – because I really didn’t know how it was going to look like but I was really pleased and grateful for the people who did it because it really helps the performance.
Geeks of Doom: Did you wear makeup?
Javier Bardem: It was me without sunscreen. Don’t laugh. (laughs) But it was three hours of makeup. I know women that take longer. (laughs)
Geeks of Doom: Are you used to sitting in that chair for long hours and how long did you sit there.
Javier Bardem: Three hours, and no I am not used to it. It drives you nuts. The first thing they do is give you coffee. They are nice. It’s five o-clock in the morning. It’s cold. It’s Australia. You know you have a 14 hour day ahead of you. Then they give you a coffee. Then second thing they do is put glue all over your face. Like actual glue on your face with a brush. Like a dog licking your face. Then they slap chicken breasts on you, because they feel like chicken breasts. Then they tell you not to talk, eat, or drink for the next three hours. Then you start to get crazy.
Geeks of Doom: Did you have to do anything different in terms of performance with the way your character moves in the film?
Javier Bardem: No, I thought about it at first. It came after the performance. They adjusted to the performance, which is good. Because I was worried about that. I was like “should I do something…” and they were like “No, no, no. Do your thing. We’ll adjust to what you do. It was great. It’s funny because I thought of my character being a wounded animal sometimes I’d be very aggressive on the movements. I didn’t think about “if I do that, what would they do with the hair.” I never did it on purpose, but it looks great.
Geeks of Doom: You’ve played several iconic villains before, are you worried about getting typecast?
Javier Bardem: Look, this is a job. I do what they offer to me. And what they offer, I try to get the best. I’ve only done three villains: No Country For Old Men, Skyfall, and this one. They are all in very powerful movies, so the arch of them are bigger.
Geeks of Doom: Given that you are anti-violence, yet you play these powerful villainous roles, how do you set yourself up in the mindspace and flip the switch from peace loving guy to iconic villain?
Javier Bardem: As a gift. As a gift in a sense that I have a chance to put it out. When I play rage, I play rage. It will be on them how to tone it down. If I play rage, I play rage. I don’t play rage for kicks. One of the great gifts of being an actor is to give room to your hundreds of thousands of characters we all hold inside. One of them being rage. So its good to give it a voice and say “okay now we are going to talk and you are going to be out there for a couple of months and have fun and enjoy it.” And it’s good. It’s not that I want to kill people when it comes out.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in theaters on May 26, 2017. Check our interviews with Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario, and our review of the film as well.