Some people have a special gaze, so deep as to result hypnotic. Javier Bardem is one of them while he talks about himself simply and ironically at the press conference of Dune, presented at the Venice Film Festival, with its stellar casting.

Bardem constructed his character Sillgar as a great fan of science fiction would do. That is not the only aspect of a career that includes No Country for Old Men, Vicky Cristina Barcellona, Escobar, and Villeneuve’s colossal.

Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem

In Dune he was mostly attracted to the multiplicity of plots and themes, such as ecology which led him to realize Sanctuary, a documentary on the devastating effects of climate change. The talented Bardem is preparing for the Academy competition in Los Angeles with El buen patrón by Fernando León de Aranoa, chosen to represent Spain on 27 March.

Who is Stillgar?

He’s the Fremen’s leader, an interstellar, nomadic tribe forced to recycle everything to survive in the desert. A scenario that, with climate change, could be much closer to reality than we think.

Why did you decide to interpret the role?

When I read the book some years ago, I found some similarities with Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. It’s the classic role you’ve wanted to interpret since childhood. When Villeneuve proposed it to me, I had no doubts and thought about the emotion he would have raised with such a visionary but straightforward story.

In addition to identity, travelling, colonialism, tyranny, the role of women, Dune deals also with ecology, a theme you are deeply involved with. How important is it for cinema to address the topic?

This story anticipated the times and predicted the future somehow. My character defends the environmental side of the planet to ensure that his people survive. As soon as I read the script, I immediately established a mental and emotional connection with Stilgar. Crucially, the makers of this film moved in the right direction; future generations will judge. I believe it’s time to change our way of living and act conscientiously to give an example.

That’s why you joined Greenpeace?

It was my brother Carlos to involve me in their safeguard project. I did it so that everybody could see what’s happening around us through the eyes of a non-expert.

You come from a family of actors. Do you remember some teaching from your parents?

The importance of being prepared and studying. That’s the only way to make acting a real profession.

How do you feel about the roles of villains such as Escobar?

My job also includes interpreting people I detest. I didn’t choose Escobar because I like him; but because I find him interesting, complex, and ambiguous. Usefulness for an actor consists of exploring different human types and, perhaps, villainy could even discourage spectators from taking the wrong path.