The Oscar-winning actor chats long days and legs of ham…
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive on set?
I like to say hello to everyone. And then I head straight for the coffee. I can’t function if I don’t have coffee.
What do you take on set with you?
I always carry a copy of the script and I cover the pages with notes. I believe in paper and pencil more than computers and buttons, but I also make voice notes on my phone during the rehearsals, and I make sure I have them with me on set too.
Do you ever sleep on set?
Definitely not. I can’t act when I’ve just woken up. If I have to be woken up to go to set, I’m gonna be bad!
What’s the longest day you’ve ever spent on a film set?
When I was doing The Sea Inside, I would do about four-and-a-half hours of make-up every day, plus 12 hours of shooting, plus one hour of taking the make-up off – so that was almost 18 hours. Every day. For a week. And I still didn’t sleep!
Hot or cold lunch?
I prefer the working lunch. I don’t like to stop for an hour to eat – I prefer to eat whatever I can around the shooting… just snacks, here and there. It interrupts the rhythm of the acting sometimes and it’s sometimes hard to get back into it again. I don’t like stopping the process for anything.
Worst on-set experience?
When I did Jamón Jamón, I was 21 and it was my first big movie. Penélope [Cruz] was only 16 at the time, and her character had this nightmare that I was hanging from a goalpost, naked, like a leg of ham. So I was strung up naked in the middle of nowhere… in December. I remember we had problems with the crane and it took forever to shoot. I was cold, I was humiliated and I felt like, “Shit, what the fuck do I want to be an actor for?!”
Have you ever stolen from a film set?
No. Sometimes I take some clothes, but I always ask first. I was also told I could have the coin that I flip in No Country For Old Men, but the prop guy forgot to give it to me. But then Viggo Mortensen did a movie called The Road and apparently met the same guy. He gave the coin to Viggo and then Viggo came to Spain and gave it back to me. I keep it near the Oscar.
Best ever wrap party?
Wow, there have been some good ones. The one that Julian Schnabel gave us for Before Night Falls, in Veracruz, Mexico, was a really wild party that ended up in the pool. We had so many nationalities of people there having a good time, it was fun. Also, I was 30 years old. Now I’m almost 50, I usually turn up, give everyone a hug, and then go back home!
What was it like sharing the set with your wife on
It’s great having Penélope there because we bring the kids with us too. It’s hard when you have to work apart from each other on the other side of the world. But you have to be careful not to bring any of the character home. I think we’re pretty good at that though. We’ve been doing it for a long time! PB
ETA | 2018 / LOVING PABLO RELEASES ON DEMAND LATER THIS YEAR.
‘WRAP PARTIES? NOW I’M ALMOST 50, I TURN UP, GIVE EVERYONE A HUG, AND THEN GO BACK HOME!’
bardem with real-life wife penélope cruz, in Loving Pablo.