There was a brief period of time when Charlie Rose (a longtime favorite show) posted transcripts of their programs. As a regular viewer, I would often pour over them after watching a show that struck me, even going as far as to occasionally save selections. One such striking show, aired on December 28, 2010, featured actor Javier Bardem and writer-director Alejandro Iñárritu. They were appearing to promote their film “Biutiful”, which tells the story of Uxbal (played by Bardem), a man living in this world, but able to see his death, which guides his every move. In this heightened context, please see below for some of their selected remarks on a few different topics. (Also, one minor note on the transcriptions: though their English is extremely comprehensive, there are certain idiosyncrasies owing to Spanish Bardem and Mexican Iñárritu’s native Spanish speaking.)
Therapy vs. Acting
CHARLIE ROSE: Is it a series of problem solving in terms of how you approach him, what you can discover about him, how you feel inside about his own dilemma?
JAVIER BARDEM: Yes.
CHARLIE ROSE: What’s that about?
JAVIER BARDEM: That’s about how much of your vanity is in the game and how much of your humbleness, can you say, is on the game, because when you’re facing a character that has to go so deep in himself you are discovering layers and layers of yourself in it and insecurity usually makes you to put yourself in there in a way that doesn’t allow you to go through the really — through a real person you’re portraying.
In other words, it’s like a use the character to portray myself. And that’s not performing, that’s therapy. I do that with my therapist.
JAVIER BARDEM: Performing is to really be able to detach yourself from everything in order to go to the place that the character demands. Sometimes that place is very hard. And those are the actors I like. The actors you see they are not putting themselves in front of the character because they think they are more — they are worth to be listened and watched rather than the character they play.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK, so what you what you admire is when you see the character do what?
JAVIER BARDEM: I admire when the actors really puts himself in the place where he’s not there anymore.
The love that connects us…
CHARLIE ROSE: What is the most important thing to allow you to access the things that you might be fearful of exposing?
JAVIER BARDEM: I would say love.
CHARLIE ROSE: Really? Love for the character? Love for the —
JAVIER BARDEM: Love for the —
CHARLIE ROSE: The story?
JAVIER BARDEM: I know it’s going to sound very ‘60s, but love for you, my friend. Love for everybody. Love for the human race. What I mean is love for the people, because I like people and I believe in people and I still trust in people, including myself.
I do this job otherwise I would have done something different because I am obsessed about portraying people in are going through a very hard circumstance struggling with themselves in order to become better and to do less harm to others. That’s what inspires me and that’s what I look for when I read material, when I read a script.
And there’s a moment where you have to really give up, when you have to really give of yourself and give up yourself and give all of yourself to something in order to remind us that there is hope that we can see each other and we can help each other and we can thank each other for being just us.
The importance of truth…
ALEJANDRO IÑÁRRITU: Basically what I look for — when I offer a role to somebody, in this case I’m looking for truth-ness, you know what I mean? It’s not about the skills, it’s not about the craftsmanship, it’s not about nothing more than to get this to a level of truth to imprint these characters with that. And I demand that, and to get that is very difficult.
“Bleak” and “Dark” are reductive adjectives…
ALEJANDRO IÑÁRRITU: Yes I think that this is a film that for the first time I’ll dealing with the tragedy. It’s not a drama. It’s a genre that I have never touched with a metaphysical element and with a social commentary approached in a very imperialistic way.
But at the same time what Javier is saying is true that for me there’s an immediacy reaction. People will not be indifferent to this film. I promise that. Now I guess that you sometimes can go in or not go into a film and that’s the right of it.
But if you let yourself go in, and you scratch a little bit on the service and the obvious reaction of people at some time they find it very emotional or this bleak or dark or reductive adjectives to give to a film that sometimes put you in uncomfortable position, I have found and I discovered that not all beauty is beautiful. That sometimes beautifulness or real beauty has to be found in ways and places that are not obvious and you can — you have to look a little deeper. And even when they are not beautiful in the way that we understand things are much more meaningful and profound and much more full of life. And that’s what it is for me.