Javier Bardem has played arguably two of the most iconic villains of the last decade. In No Country For Old Men he basically became a force of pure evil as Anton Chigurh, and in Skyfall he stepped up to make Raoul Silva one of the greatest James Bond foes of all time. Because of this, expectations are high for his antagonistic turn in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – but there’s an element of the character that he added especially for this performance: a bit of lightness. He recently explained,
It was really a matter of putting things together along with Jerry Bruckheimer and the directors, Espen [Sandberg] and Joachim [Ronning]. We all thought the idea of having something really painful inside, and dark that would help add to the gravitas of the character. And at the same time we have to balance it with something more light. Because it’s a Disney movie, and you have to play a villain in a Disney movie. It’s a lot different than No Country For Old Men… So he was more about the physicality of it, and the pace of the character. And it was good, because at the same time we’d work on that, we were finding that as we were doing it on the set, which is the fun part.
Javier Bardem took part in the Los Angeles press day for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales this past weekend, and when I had the opportunity to sit down with him the first topic discussed was the element of the character, Captain Salazar, that truly first intrigued him. The Oscar-winning actor revealed that his process involved finding the deep pain that exists within the man, but added that the fact that it’s a family-oriented franchise had its influences as well.
In the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Javier Bardem’s Salazar is introduced as a former captain of the Spanish Navy who has had a few bad years. While he was once acclaimed as a pirate hunter, his first encounter with a young Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) ended in tragedy, as his own hubris led his ship, the Silent Mary, into the dreaded Devil’s Triangle. He spent decades with his crew trapped by magic, but the events of Dead Men Tell No Tales see him freed and on the hunt for the man who cursed him.
Being a member of the undead, there certainly is a scary factor when it comes to Javier Bardem’s portrayal as Captain Salazar – but the characterization also doesn’t betray the tone of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. After all, he still finds opportunities to act opposite Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa, and you can’t really be an utterly terrifying creation standing next to goofy individuals like those.