This past week, I was able to travel to Los Angeles as one of 25 bloggers covering the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales press event. As part of that event, we interviewed actor Javier Bardem, who played Captain Salazar – the new villain in this installment. Travel and accommodations were covered by Disney but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
About Javier Bardem and his role as Captain Salazar:
Academy Award® winner Javier Bardem plays the fearsome Captain Salazar, a multidimensional antagonist for Captain Jack, known as “El Matador Del Mar” (“The Killer of the Sea”). Salazar and his crew of the “undead” are ridding the Caribbean of pirates (but always leaving one man alive to tell the tale) with the ultimate goal of exacting revenge on Captain Jack Sparrow.
While preparing for his role, Javier Bardem came up with the idea that Captain Salazar was “like a wounded bull, full of rage and a strong need for revenge. One of the things that attracted me as an actor to play it is because Salazar has a point. I can understand his mentality. Of course, he’s a villain, but we can also find empathy for him.”
Directors Rønning and Sandberg commented on Javier’s role as well. “It was a challenge because you read about Salazar on the page and he’s dead,” says Rønning. “He’s not really a ghost in the traditional sense of the word, but he’s cursed to walk in some kind of a middle ground. So, it was important for us to give that character depth. And that’s why we felt so lucky when we got Javier Bardem to play Captain Salazar. We were excited about what he could bring to it.”
“It was great working with Javier Bardem creating Salazar because he brought something new to the table in his way of portraying the two different Salazars that we meet: the live Salazar
and the dead Salazar,” says Sandberg. “He chose to play the living Salazar like a matador, and then the dead Salazar like the wounded bull. So that was his way of seeing his arc and it made for a really interesting character.”
Get a sneak peek of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar in this clip:
I could have listened to Javier Bardem talk all day. Despite the roughness of his character in the movie, in person he was sweet and jovial, with a huge smile on his face the whole time. Here are just a few of the things we chatted with him about:
What was it like to talk through the black goo coming out of your mouth?
Javier explained, “They told me it was supposed to be like chocolate, chocolate my a**… I went to play the first scene, I think it was with Geoffrey Rush and it starts to pour out of my mouth and he was very disgusted. I thought it was like a rage pouring out, right? It’s not blood. It’s like the rage of the character coming out, like something more physical, like a bull. I’d always thought the character was like a bull, like a wounded bull with the blood and moving like wounded and out of breath and with a very strong idea for revenge.”
Was it difficult to portray so many emotions through all of that makeup?
“Very good question,” Javier said. “That was one of my concerns to see if my facial expression can go through the mask, but these guys won the Oscar for “Mad Max,” and they did an amazing job. Once I had the mask on the face, I realized that I could express myself through it, which is important. Otherwise, your performance is killed by it.
One of the things that these special effects people have done so well in this movie is that they brought magic into the performance without killing it, like the hair. It’s fantastic. It’s there but it doesn’t kill the physicality of the performance.”
How did you become involved in the project?
Javier explained that he got involved in the movie back in 2010, when he went to the “Pirates 4” set in Hawaii to see his wife, Penelope Cruz. He said, “I was very jealous because I was seeing all this amazing production taking place: the water, the special effects, the boat, the sword fighting. I wanted to be one of those. So, I said to Jerry (Bruckheimer), ‘Jerry please, give me a job.’
Lest you think it was really that easy, Javier went on to say, “I said that because I thought that he was going to say ‘yeah, right,’ but then he called me five years after and I was so surprised and honored because as a movie goer, I love the franchise. So, I knew that production wise and experience wise it was going to be great. Now it was a matter of what’s the story and what can I bring to the character, and when they gave it to me, I thought it was this great thing about one same character played in two ways, 1) he’s alive and it’s all about pride and it’s all about honor and 2) when he’s dead, it’s all about betrayal and pain and revenge. I liked it. It has some powerful moments, the movie itself.”
What was it like working with Johnny Depp and what was the chemistry like on set?
Javier started his answer with the story of the first time he met Johnny Depp, back in 1999. Johnny was dressed as a drag queen on the set of a movie he was working on at the time, and Javier saw him from behind, with a long blond wig on, and thought that he was a beautiful woman with a very nice bottom. He said, “And then since then, we’ve been good friends. He was a gentleman then. He was super nice, very caring, very funny, and don’t give himself too much importance at all.”
Javier said that he often had to cut in the middle of scenes because Johnny was being so hilarious that he couldn’t help but laugh (which would not have fit his character). However, despite the constant laughter he said that he couldn’t hate Johnny because “he’s a great colleague and a beautiful guy.”
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