Lumière Festival: Javier Bardem on Woody Allen: ‘I’d work with him tomorrow’

LYON, France – Javier Bardem charmed his audience at a masterclass during the Lumière Film Festival on Monday, eliciting laughter with stories of his youth, learning English by way of AC/DC, his famous family and expounding on the talent, compassion and genius of the filmmakers with whom he has worked, among them Bigas Luna, Julian Schnabel, the Coen brothers and Woody Allen.

Bardem reiterated his support for Allen, who directed the Oscar-winning Spanish actor in 2008’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” saying he would work with him again at a day’s notice.

“He’s a genius,” Bardem said, adding that in this time of the Me Too movement, “I would work with him tomorrow.” He stressed that Allen’s legal status today has not changed since the last they worked together in 2007 and noted that the director had never been found guilty of any crime. “Today, 11 years later, it is the same accusation. Public accusations are very dangerous. If some day there is a trial and it’s proven to be true, I would change my opinion, but at this moment, nothing has changed.”

Bardem’s comments drew loud applause from the packed crowd, possibly reflecting Allen’s enduring popularity in France, or European attitudes that contrast with those prevailing Stateside.

The actor also expressed his appreciation for Julian Schnabel, who launched his Hollywood career with “Before Night Falls.”

Bardem first met Schnabel at a San Sebastian Festival presentation in New York. “He said, ‘I want you for a film.’ I said, ‘OK, fine.’” Schnabel ended up giving Bardem the script 20 days before the start of production. “I had 20 days to learn English, lose 20 kilos, learn Cuban – it was crazy. But it was a marvelous experience.”

Asked about his infamous hairdo in “No Country for Old Men,” Bardem said he was initially in the dark about the Coens’ dastardly plans.

“The haircut from ‘No Country for Old Men’ came from a book that the Coen brothers showed me from the ’60s of a man in a brothel with prostitutes. It was a very weird photo and he had a haircut like that.”

He added: “It was a book about the border of Tijuana and they were showing me the photo and laughing. And the hairdresser that apparently understood that language, came and started to do my haircut. I was looking in the mirror and they left and then came back and laughed and left again. I had to live with that for four months.

“It was the most humiliating thing in my whole career. I had to wear a hairnet. We were shooting in Texas and I had to walk around with my hairnet,” he exclaimed, adding that he was forced to explain his appearance more than once to a local cop who regularly stopped him while driving in town.

Going back to the beginning of his career, Bardem praised late Spanish filmmaker Bigas Luna for making his career possible.

He first worked with Luna in the 1990 erotic drama “The Ages of Lulu,” in which he played a violent sadomasochist, and co-starred with his mother, Pilar Bardem. “It was a complicated start, but also my first encounter with Bigas Luna, who was more than just a director, he was my cinematographic father.”

Bardem re-teamed with Luna on 1992’s “Jamón, Jamón,” co-starring with a young Penélope Cruz,” and again on 1993’s “Huevos de oro” (“Golden Balls”).

“When we did ‘Jamón, Jamón,’ Penélope was 16 years old, I was 21. It was our great fortune and divine gift to work with Bigas Luna, a person who treated us with great respect, affection and generosity. And with a great deal of love. … If we had worked that young with another type of director who had not treated us in that manner, we  probably would not be where we are today.”

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Woody Allen with celebrities through the years
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Woody Allen with celebrities through the years
Director Woody Allen (2ndL) and cast members Blake Lively (L), Kristen Stewart (C), and Jesse Eisenberg (2ndR) and Cannes Film festival president Pierre Lescure pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the opening ceremony and the screening of the film "Cafe Society" out of competition during the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Director Woody Allen (C), cast members Emma Stone (L) and Parker Posey pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film "Irrational Man" out of competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Director Woody Allen (C), cast members Blake Lively (R) and Kristen Stewart pose during a photocall for the film "Cafe Society" out of competition, before the opening of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Director Woody Allen and cast members Penelope Cruz (2nd L), Greta Gerwig (L) and Alison Pill pose at the premiere of "To Rome with Love" during the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles, California June 14, 2012. The movie opens limitedly in the U.S. on June 22. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
U.S. film director Woody Allen (C) poses with actors Adrien Brody (L), Owen Wilson (2ndL), Rachel McAdams (2ndR) and Michael Sheen (R) as they arrive for the screening of their film "Midnight in Paris" and for the opening ceremony of the 64th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 11, 2011. Twenty films compete at the May 11 to 22 cinema showcase with an impressive roll call of major screen stars, revered "auteur" directors and relative newcomers. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler (FRANCE - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Director Woody Allen (R) arrives with cast member Lea Seydoux for the screening of "Midnight In Paris" and for the opening ceremony of the 64th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 11, 2011. Twenty films compete at the May 11 to 22 cinema showcase with an impressive roll call of major screen stars, revered "auteur" directors and relative newcomers. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Director Woody Allen (L) and cast member Naomi Watts (R) arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "You will meet a tall dark stranger" at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
U.S. film director Woody Allen (C), Spanish actress Penelope Cruz (L) and actor Javier Bardem pose during a photocall to promote Allen's latest film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", in Barcelona September 20, 2008. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN)
Actress Scarlett Johansson, star of director Woody Allen's new film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", poses with Allen at the film's premiere in Los Angeles August 4, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
American actress Debra Messing (R) holds American director Woody Allen's head during a photocall for Allen's film "Hollywood Ending" at the 55th International Film Festival in Cannes, May 15, 2002. [Twenty-two films are in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the film jamboree on the French Riviera which begins today with the out of competition screening of "Hollywood Ending". ]
Director Woody Allen poses with Mariel Hemingway (L) and Kirstie Alley stars from the ensemble of his new film "Deconstructing Harry" in Los Angeles, December 5. The film about a Manhattan writer's creative and erotic life stars an ensemble cast including [Demi Moore, Billy Crystal, and Elisabeth Shue.]
CIRCA 1996: Actor Edward Norton and actress Drew Barrymore listens to director Woody Allen on the set of the Miramax movie 'Everyone Says I Love You' circa 19961. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - CIRCA 1991: Woody Allen With Helena Bonham, Carter At 'Woody Allen' Performs With The New Orleans Jazz Band (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Don't Drink the Water - 1994: (L-R) Michael J. Fox, Mayim Bialik, Woody Allen on 'Don't Drink the Water' movie set. (Photo by Brian Hamill/ABC via Getty Images)
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