How Javier Bardem Went About Gaining Weight For Playing Pablo Escobar

Penelope Cruz Javier Bardem in a dump Virginia Vallejo Loving Pablo

Watching Fernando León de Aranoa's new movie Loving Pablo, it's surprising to see the transformation of Javier Bardem playing drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. In addition to sporting a mustache that we don't typically see on the actor, Bardem also gained quite a lot of weight for the role -- working to be as accurate to reality as possible. What's interesting, though, is that Escobar's size actually fluctuated over the many years that the story covers, and according to the Academy Award winner, it had an interesting effect on the way the film was made:

It came about making sure that you are surrounded by great people, and also I gained the weight that you need to weigh to play Pablo Escobar! But the problem is that these 12 years of his existence, his life, he didn't have one weight, he had different weights. As I was gaining the weight, we were working around to do different weights, until I finally gained the weight that he needs for the end of the movie.

Javier Bardem was never going to have the exact same body type as Pablo Escobar, as he stands almost half-a-foot taller than the notorious criminal did in real life, but that didn't hinder his efforts to try and embody him as much as he could. This included putting on a significant amount of weight for the part with the help of professionals, as Bardem explained last month during the Los Angeles press day for Loving Pablo, but it also helped that the film production was, to a degree, working in sync with his transformation.

Movies are very rarely filmed in sequence for a number of reasons -- the most significant being that it's generally not economically feasible -- and it should be noted that Loving Pablo didn't exactly go that route. The film as a whole was not filmed in chronological order, but there were concessions made in the scheduling to help Javier Bardem be the size he needed to be for certain sequences. When I followed up about shooting in sequence, the actor explained,

Kind of, kind of - knowing that it's almost impossible to film any movie in order.

You can watch Javier Bardem -- sans his Pablo Escobar weight -- talk about his physical transformation for Loving Pablo by clicking play on the video below:

In addition to Javier Bardem, Loving Pablo also stars Penelope Cruz and Peter Sarsgaard, telling the story of Pablo Escobar's rise from the perspective of his lover/journalist Virginia Vallejo. The movie is in theaters this weekend, and stay tuned for more from my interview with Bardem here on CinemaBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.