Auric Goldfinger, Rosa Klebb, Dr. Julius No, Jaws... Add Raoul Silva to any list of memorable Bond movie villains.
Javier Bardem's murderous, vengeance-seeking cyberterrorist in "Skyfall," opening Friday, isn't out to destroy the world; he wants to unleash a world of hurt on 007's boss at MI6, M (Judi Dench), with whom he has a complicated history.
The demented hacker with platinum blond hair and rotting teeth doesn't appear until almost an hour into the movie, but his buzz-worthy, homoerotic interrogation of Daniel Craig's superspy will have audience members fidgeting in their seats. Bardem says that was the point.
"It was part of [Silva's] game. Sexuality was there as something important to create a behavior. It's not the main thing, though," the Spanish actor said during a press conference at the Crosby Hotel in New York.
Director Sam Mendes, Bardem said, used the "uncomfortableness" to explain the atmosphere Silva was setting up to intimidate Bond in the scene. "Within that you can read anything you wish," he said. "But it's more ... putting the other person into an uncomfortable situation. Even James Bond doesn't know how to get out of it. We wanted to create something that was unexpected."
According to Mendes, Bardem nails that uncomfortableness he wanted. In a separate press conference, the director said Bardem brought the right mix of flamboyance and realness to the role. "Javier allowed himself to be playful and mischievous, but never lost the danger, the mystery, the strangeness, the otherness," he said. "I think he's done something wonderful."
Craig agreed. "What's great about Javier's performance is that he plays him for real," the actor said. "He plays it to the limit and never forgets he's playing a Bond character. And that's a testament to how good an actor he is."
Although Bardem won a supporting actor Oscar for playing the psycho killer Anton Chigurh in the 2007 film "No Country For Old Men," he admits it's been an unnerving experience jumping into the 23-film franchise, especially in the movie that marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond.
In one scene with Dench, Bardem said, he forgot his lines because it occurred to him that he was in "a James Bond movie." But that was just the beginning of his nerves.
"I'm feeling the pressure now," he admitted with a grin. "Out here promoting the movie I see the poster and I go, 'Wow, James Bond!' When you receive a script that says 007, of course, something clicks inside of you. I'm 43 and I was 12 the first time I saw Bond in the theater. It was 'Moonraker.'
"I was really drawn to [the villain] Jaws, I have to say. I was 12 and I thought, 'This guy's such a nice guy, why is he playing a villain? I could tell that inside he was a beautiful person."
Bardem, too, might be a beautiful person, but apparently not while in his Silva persona. He joked that he looked so scary in the blond wig and makeup that he startled co-star Ralph Fiennes outside the makeup room. Bardem appreciates that his character was more physically menacing than physically active.
"In terms of action, I didn't do [anything] compared to what Daniel did," Bardem said. "I was watching Daniel do those things and I was going, 'Oh my God.' He's so prepared and committed. I did a couple of things but the rest, I let the stunt[men] do it. This role wasn't that physical and that was good. I kind of prefer that."
Miki Turner is a RedEye special contributor.
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