If you haven’t figured it out yet, Javier Bardem plays a damn good villain.
He proved that when he won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 2008 for playing psychotic killer Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men," so it’s not out of the question to think he could pull off the Oscar feat again for his role in "Skyfall."
As Silva, Bardem creates one of the better Bond villains in recent memory (some think it's among the best of all time). A one-time Double-O agent, Silva isn’t into world domination like most Bond bad guys; he is driven by his hatred for M and will do anything to put her through the pain he’s endured.
In one of the most chilling scenes in the film, Silva shows M the price he paid for his loyalty to the Crown, revealing the aftermath of a mishap with a cyanide capsule while he was an agent. Part CGI wizardry, part Bardem talent, the scene is one you won’t forget anytime soon.
But, like the great Bond villains, Bardem gives Silva a bit of playfulness as well. In our introduction, meeting Bond after Silva's goons have captured him, he plays off Bond’s machismo by starting a little game of gay chicken, which Bond has no trouble in obliging in. The back and forth between Bardem and Daniel Craig in the scene is fun to watch, and adds an interesting layer to the Silva character without verging into camp territory - a balance he pulled off because “I just learned what ‘camp’ means a few hours ago,” Bardem told a room full of journalists at the "Skyfall" press conference in New York City in early October.
Now, history will tell you that Bardem’s chances of getting nominated are slim to none. Outside of nominations for technical awards and wins for sound ("Goldfinger," 1964) and visual effects ("Thunderball," 1965), the Academy has pretty much ignored the acting in the previous 22 Bond films. But Bardem’s pedigree is fairly unique for a Bond villain (no disrespect to Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Christopher Lee, Christopher Walken and Robert Carlyle). Sam Mendes has said this is the first Bond film ever to have a full actors read through. Part of this was due to MGM’s bankruptcy issues leading up to production of "Skyfall," but also because Mendes’ particularity about his actors made it essential that they were all in the same room at least once. That shows in "Skyfall," not only in Bardem’s performance -- Craig’s interaction with all the other cast members in the film are highly enjoyable to watch. There’s an intensity and polish to the performances that you just don’t see in a James Bond film.
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We’ll see if Bardem’s performance can grab the attention of the stuffy Academy voters.
Wth all of this talk of how great Bardem is as a Bond villain, we can only imagine how he would have been playing Bond. That’s right, as he confirmed to Cinema Blend, he was offered the 007 role, but he turned it down. A Latin loving James Bond may be beyond our wildest dreams, but at least he came back around to play a bad guy.