Spanish actor Javier Bardem says playing a promiscuous, heartbroken Colombian in “Love in the Time of Cholera” felt like a cleansing shower after portraying a serial killer in “No Country for Old Men.”
For the first time in his career, Bardem, 38, filmed two movies back-to-back that are opening within a week of each other — Ethan and Joel Coen’s “No Country for Old Men” opens on Friday and Mike Newell’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” debuts on Nov. 16.
“It was quite a scary character,” he said of Anton Chigurh, a mysterious killer searching for $2 million missing after a drug deal along the U.S. border goes awry. The film is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2003 novel of the same name.
“I thought if I do ‘No Country’ with this character I need to do something else that’s going to take me out of that place,” said Bardem, who was nominated for a best actor Academy Award in 2001 for his role in “Before Night Falls.”
Shortly after finishing what critics have hailed as the best work by the Coen brothers yet, Bardem transformed himself into Florentino Ariza, who struggles with unrequited love for half a century by sleeping with hundreds of women.
“After (‘No Country’) you take this character (Ariza) with such a need, open yourself up and let yourself free and open your heart, whereas the other one (Chigurh) is insane,” he said. “I felt like (playing Ariza) was a clean shower.”
Bardem, who lives in Madrid, said he read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” several times while growing up and became so passionate about the story that he pushed to be a part of the movie.
What fascinated him, he said, was the “idea about being in love for so many years as if it were the first day.”
“No matter how much (Ariza) ages he’s stuck at the age of 14, at that very moment that he sees her. The body says the opposite but his spirit is the same — that’s beautiful,” said Bardem, who grew up in a family of actors and filmmakers.
After working through 2006 and recently finishing filming on Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Bardem said he is taking his time looking for his next role.
“I go slowly,” he said. “It’s fine to stop for a little bit.”