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Javier Bardem & ‘The Good Boss’ Director Talk Well-Received Spanish Comedy; Actor Says He Hopes For ‘Dune’ Sequel – San Sebastian

Javier Bardem & ‘The Good Boss’ Director Talk Well-Received Spanish Comedy; Actor Says He Hopes For ‘Dune’ Sequel – San Sebastian

Fernando León de Aranoa’s Spanish-language dark comedy The Good Boss had its world premiere last night at the San Sebastian Film Festival in front of a raucous local crowd (albeit at half-capacity due to Covid measures).


The audience-friendly film sees Javier Bardem play Blanco, a charismatic but controlling factory boss who will go to extreme lengths to protect the world he has created for himself, and to stop his affairs with the interns being exposed to his wife.


The role is a demanding one for Bardem, but he carries the narrative by delivering a nuanced and engaging performance, filling virtually every frame with subtle charm – it’s a part that is already receiving rave write-ups following the premiere in San Sebastian.

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This is the latest collaboration between Bardem and director Fernando León De Aranoa, following their movies Loving Pablo and Mondays In The Sun.


Deadline sat down with the pair in San Sebastian to talk about crafting the complex character of Blanco, while the actor also tells us about his hopes for another Dune movie.


The Good Boss is produced by The MediaPro Studio and will be released in Spain on October 15. It next screens at Zurich and London film festivals. Mk2 Films is handling international sales.


DEADLINE: What was the inspiration for the character of Blanco?


FERNANDO LEÓN DE ARANOA: It’s not based on a single person, or somebody I know. It’s based on several different small stories that came to me, I heard about someone who had this kind of situation in his place of work, with his boss going too far into the personal relationships of his workers.


The first thing that came to my mind was the main character, the patron [boss] himself. I thought about this person who takes care of everything at his company. On one side there is the humor, funny situations where he’s trying to handle the personal relationships of his workers – even though by the end he goes too far – and then something that I think is important today, the subject of personal relationships and professional relationships and how they interact, when our professional life steps too far into our personal one.


DEADLINE: Did you always have Javier in mind for the role?


The Good Boss


LEÓN DE ARANOA: At some point, yes. For me, it’s difficult not to have him in mind, we work a lot together, we have a good personal relationship. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to think of somebody else. I want to have the pleasure of working with him, and I know he will improve what I wrote on the paper. It was actually two years ago here in San Sebastian that I gave him the first draft and offered him the role.

DEADLINE: Javier, the role looks like a lot of fun. You’re in almost every frame. Did you have a good time in the character?


JAVIER BARDEM: Yes. In order to enjoy the process you need to do the homework, so you feel free, liberated enough to enjoy it. Filmmaking is not a natural flow, it’s always interrupted by something: timing, lighting, make-up, clothing. The concentration it demands is huge. The bottom line as always is the material. If the material is rich enough to play with, then you will have fun. If it is not, the actor will find himself mostly trying to fix the gaps with his performance. Here, the material was like clockwork. That gives you the confidence to jump in.


DEADLINE: You certainly inhabit the character of Blanco. A Spanish-speaker told me your delivery is quite particular as well, that they really noticed a difference in how you spoke you lines. How did you get into that headspace?


BARDEM: We [me and León De Aranoa] talked about it a lot. There are people like him [Blanco] all around us. Some of them are known, some are anonymous. I didn’t look at a certain person to copy. There is a delivery, a smell, the way they speak, move, touch, they’re similar to each other those kinds of people. That’s what you try to find.


DEADLINE: On the one hand he’s charming and an engaging personality, on the other he’s an adulterer and a schemer – does having those varied character traits make it more interesting for you as an actor?


BARDEM: Yes of course, because it’s a contradiction in itself. He’s not plain, there’s no one key, he has different colors. He loves his wife for sure, but that doesn’t mean he won’t go to the opposite direction sometimes. There’s no way to excuse him or justify it but those are the mentalities of many people, they can feel fine with it.


LEÓN DE ARANOA: The character has this balance in his life [his factory produces kitchen scales, a consistent metaphor in the film], but it’s fake. If something is imbalanced, he will fix it, but we meet him when he is about to lose this balance. He starts to lose control. He goes further and further to keep everything under control.


DEADLINE: The subject of professional-personal relationships has been examined in detail off the back of the #MeToo movement, was that an influence on you?


LEÓN DE ARANOA: All of it was in the back of my mind. All kinds of wrong things that might happen in a work place. We know these things happen every day. All those things were shown up [by #MeToo].


DEADLINE: Javier, you’re a very famous person, do you ever think about working in a factory, having that kind of white-collar job? A more normal, contained life?


BARDEM: Well I’ve had it. I wasn’t born as an actor. I worked in several jobs, not in a factory, but when I was 19 I helped on construction sites. I’ve had bosses, I still do. I know lots of people who work in these environments. It’s not strange to me. Also when you work on a movie set there is discipline to follow, bosses to give directions, you have to do what you’re told.


It’s also my job to imagine situations I haven’t been in before, mostly when you’re an actor you’re playing people you haven’t been – when you play Hamlet you’re not a prince yourself, what do you know about being the son of a king? You need a text that triggers your imagination.


DEADLINE: There’s another film you have out at the moment – Dune – how was that experience?


BARDEM: It was fun. My role is short. Hopefully there is a second one! I hope my character will have more to tell in the story. Let’s see.


DEADLINE: What do you both having coming up next?


LEÓN DE ARANOA: I’m trying to find room once The Good Boss is out here in Spain to go back to the writing desk. I have a couple of different projects, including my first TV show. I love feature films but I want to try that TV one.


BARDEM: I’m starting next Monday the shoot of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile [the musical comedy from Josh Gordon and Will Speck]. And then Being The Ricardos, the Aaron Sorkin movie, is coming out I guess at the end of this year, I’m not sure.