Javier Bardem opens up about those who helped him be a Ricardo

Spanish actor Javier Bardem

Spanish actor Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos.”

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

Throughout awards season, Javier Bardem has generously credited six coaches in six disciplines (acting, conga, Cuban accent, English, guitar, singing) with helping him transform into Desi Arnaz for “Being the Ricardos,” a feat that earned him an Oscar nomination. “The preparation is what I like the most,” he said in a video call, a little more than 12 hours after the SAG Awards, in which he was nominated for Best Lead Actor, and a day before his birthday. “I knew it would be difficult to achieve. And again, I gave credit because I’m turning 53 tomorrow, and as we get older, we all know we’re nothing without each other… My work on this film would have been absolutely unattainable without everyone I’ve mentioned.”

Javier Bardem in "Being the Ricardos"

Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos”.

(Glen Wilson/ © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC/Glen Wilson/ © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC)

In that spirit, The Envelope asked Bardem to say something about seven other people who helped bring this role to the screen.

Aaron Sorkins

He is the origin of everything. He is the man who gave me the images, the words, the circumstances, the details, the layers, the journey – the beginning, the middle and the end – something that is everything for an actor. But the most important, [me dio] the confidence to let me know every day – even without speaking to me, because he is a man of few words, but what words! – that he wanted me to play that role. He trusted me.

Producer Lucie Arnaz with actress Nicole Kidman on the set of "Being the Ricardos."

Producer Lucie Arnaz along with actress Nicole Kidman, on the set of “Being the Ricardos.”

(Glen Wilson/Amazon Studios)

lucie arnaz

Lucie Arnaz firstly gave me the space to find Desi on my own…Once I did my homework and had very specific questions, I reached out to her and she was so generous in giving me everything I needed, without imposing any points on me. of view, idea, image, detail or opinion. She knew much more than me! It was something like: “This is your role. This is your character. You are Desi now. I can help you however you want, but I will not disturb your process.”

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball gave me the mirror – in her performances, her interviews, her biography – to really see some of the images that Desi projected onto her. But above all what she gave me is the unconditional love that she had for him. Even if they separated, even if they got divorced, they were madly in love with each other. That was a very important role in this film: unconditional love.

A black-and-white portrait of Lucille Ball leaning against a post.

Lucille Ball in 1965.

(CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images)

Desi Arnaz

He gave me his humor. He gave me all these little clues about his performances, about his musical numbers, about his tones of voice. What he was saying to me, what I think I heard from him when I was talking to him – because I talked to him every night, I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to be him – is this idea of: “You are me as much as you can be you. same.” That is, “Don’t try to be me, because you will never be able to be me. Just try to be as much of yourself as you can, and you’ll find me there.”

Nicole Kidman

She gave me the absolute confidence to really play the best game with her. We didn’t know each other… We met on a Thursday; Friday we were filming. We didn’t get a chance to talk. On the first day, we sat in a couple of chairs in the studio parking lot and expressed our need to connect through the characters. She was so open, transparent, clear, precise in what we had to do. “We have to relate to each other from now on as Lucy and Desi, whatever. I trust you and I trust your Desi. I want you to trust my Lucy. And we said, yes, there is no Javier, no Nicole here. No time for that. Once we were on set, everything was allowed between us, because if that chemistry didn’t exist, [la película no iba a ser posible].

Javier Bardem, left, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda and Nicole Kidman star in “Being the Ricardos.”

Javier Bardem, left, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda and Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos.”

(Glen Wilson/Amazon Content Services)

Penelope Cruz

I was absolutely captivated by the importance, the complexity, the humor, the love and the pain of it all. [en el guión de Sorkin]…In the original script, “Babalu’s” number was not included. She told me, “You have to put that in the film, because that energy, her sensuality, her sexuality, her passion, you know how to connect with that.” The second thing she said to me is: “Now, go and enjoy it, because this jewel will mean nothing unless you enjoy it.”

Javier Bardem

There was a lot of work [que hacer]…and completely blocked me. Fiona McDougal, who is a great voice teacher, was very kind and relaxed about it. “Okay, we need to work a lot, but we’ll get there.” I thought that was the mantra. What I learned is to be patient with myself. You have to go step by step, line by line, scene by scene, episode by episode. Otherwise, you will never make it.

Javier Bardem

Spanish actor Javier Bardem.

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

one last thought

What would it mean for Bardem to win his second Oscar, this time for a leading role, after earning his first supporting statuette 14 years ago for “No Country for Old Men”? “It would make me happier to see Penelope [nominada como Mejor Actriz Protagónica por ‘Madres Paralelas’] receive his Oscar. That’s what will make me jump out of my seat.”

To read this note in English, click here.

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