And indeed, audiences were laughing. Bardem's performance as the coiffed villain was, naturally, terrifying. But also, genuinely (and somewhat eerily) funny. In the newest Bond installment, Bardem plays Silva, a colorful and eccentric antagonist hell-bent on seeking revenge against MI6 and its stalwart leader, M (Judi Dench).
The actor spoke to Moviefone about his hesitation about signing onto a Bond film, passing up Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" and his thoughts on the classic Bond villain Jaws.
Is there a wig that you will not wear? [Laughs] No. Of course not. If it has a meaning to the character, I will wear it. I would even wear no wig.
You'd go bald? If it makes sense.
Your character's aesthetic is very much important to the type of person he is. Did you have any say in that? Yeah. Sam gave me so many great ideas. [He told me] to create uncomfortable situations, not being scary or threatening -- a guy who [you] really don't know how he's going to react. In other words, you have to create a situation, all the time, where the other one doesn't know what's going to happen next. And then from there, we think about the look and we look for a look that's uncomfortable to watch. But at the same time, everything has to have some meaning and make sense with the character... It's not just because you want to be blond.
In this movie there are moments of comic relief amid some very scary scenes. Did you realize that while filming? No. We didn't know. The thing is, the material is there, the lines are there, but things have to happen on the set and that's why Sam Mendes is who he is. He [put] the actors on the right track and we worked the same scenes from different angles and colors and options... We really messed it up to a point where I thought many times that we were like an independent, small-budget movie by the way we were working so close to the joy of performing.
What villain in recent memory do you think of as genuinely terrifying? Well, I thought Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast" was a masterpiece of performance. That was unstoppable. That was really more than scary, it got into my skin... because he was so recognizable. And of course Hannibal Lecter many years ago. But the one that will always stay with me is Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast." Again, he was a real person; he was a person who let their mind go and he went for it and the behavior, the way he was treating the rest of the world, was very disturbing.
Right. And you feel that understanding your villain is the key to being able to play them. Yeah. A broken person with very definitive, realistic goals is more approachable. Whereas in "No Country for Old Men" I was more of an iconic, symbolic idea of what he should represent in the story rather than a person behind those actions. Here, there's a person behind those actions.
When you were approached about doing "Skyfall," did you have any sort of hesitation to being in a Bond film? Yes and no. It's not that I had that because it was a James Bond movie; I have hesitations all the time. Because, I guess, it's a sign of insecurity that stays with me. I don't think you find, especially in movies, that great [of] material -- that just with one reading you go like, "Whoa." I haven't in my 25 years. But that's me, [and that's my] insecurity. In this case the material was pretty good. When Sam gave me these great key points I was like, "OK, OK. Makes sense." And then I get excited -- that triggers my imagination. I start to put photos and images together to show and...it's a whole process and then, before you realize it, you are in the movie.
When you turned down "Minority Report" you were quoted as saying "I don't see myself running on roofs." Was that a clause in you contract? When you do a James Bond movie, you want to feel a glimpse of [that action]. "Minority Report" was many years ago; my life has changed very much... Maybe at the time I didn't feel like I had anything to work with in that specific moment, when here I did. It's like, here's something with weight and I can play with it, that's why. But, also, I don't regret doing or not doing something. Because the movies that are done after you pass on them are done by somebody else and that's why the movies are the way they are.
Were you interested in James Bond growing up? When I was 12 I saw "Moonraker" and I remember being in the theater and freaking out, being like "What is this?" I was immediately drawn to Jaws, because I thought he was a great guy.
Really? So you have always been drawn to the villain? They are great characters. When they are well put together, they are fun to play. But in that particular case, I saw his face and I said "This guy must be a nice person." You can tell in those eyes. Of course I was scared of it because I was 12. But, at the same time, I felt, in a way, he must be a beautiful person himself. So, I had that feeling. Then with James Bond, it's James Bond and you go "Wow. That's great. That's cool. I want to be like that." But it was more emotional with Jaws.