While Javier Bardem is no stranger to villain roles, his approach towards the titular antagonist in the new drama Loving Pablo demanded something new. Unlike Anton Chigurh or Raul Silva, Pablo Escobar was an actual person, and though not exactly in the traditional sense, it was a story that required an extra bit of respect. It was a subject that came up when I sat down with the Academy Award winner and asked him about what was most important to him in the making of the movie:
Javier Bardem isn't the first actor to portray Pablo Escobar, but in his preparation he told me that he solely focused on the work and the real man instead of the choices of other performers. Diving deep into the project and the character, Bardem decided it was of utmost importance to him that the material not be a glamorization of Escobar's life, but instead a stark representation of who he was, featured in a story that fully demonstrates the consequences of the many horrific choices that he made in his lifetime.
Pablo Escobar, of course, is one of the most notorious drug kingpins in history, operating from mid-1970s to the early 1990s. His home base established in Colombia, he was directly responsible for hundreds if not thousands of tons of cocaine being smuggled into the United States, and was known for extreme violence in dealing with perceived enemies and threats. Loving Pablo, directed by Fernando León de Aranoa, is a film specifically based on the book by Virginia Vallejo, who was a lover of Escobar's and is portrayed in the film by Penelope Cruz (Javier Bardem's wife).
Most actors will say that the key to playing a villain is to perceive them as the hero of their own story, but after playing Pablo Escobar in Loving Pablo, Javier Bardem noted that a recognition of reality changed how he decided to play the role:
You can watch Javier Bardem discuss his portrayal of Pablo Escobar in Loving Pablo by clicking play on the video below:
Loving Pablo, which co-stars Peter Sarsgaard and Julieth Restrepo, arrives in theaters this Friday, October 5th. Between now and then, stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with Javier Bardem.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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