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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 14:16 GMT
The hitman and the haircut
By Nicola Dann
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem plays a psychotic hitman
The Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men is creating a lot of Oscar buzz, not least because it's already picked up a handful of honours including two Golden Globes.

Named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle, best film by the National Board of Review and best picture by the Critics Choice awards, the movie features an impressive cast.

Josh Brolin stars alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem in the story adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name.

Apart from the praise for the film itself, it's Spanish actor Bardem's portrayal of the psychotic hitman Anton Chigurgh that's drawing critical acclaim.

In this case I think violence is not glamorous at all. You want to go back home and hug your friends or family
Javier Bardem on No Country For Old Men

"The inspiration was there in the book," Bardem says.

"Also the way that the Coens wanted to portray him - they gave me very good clues to follow in order to understand how to do that character."

But, says Bardem, it was only after visiting the hairdresser that he fully grasped how to play the chilling character.

"They brought this idea of that insane haircut and this helped me tremendously because then you have this guy with this methodical, almost mathematical haircut - totally insane out of place - and that gives you an idea to follow about his way of achieving his goals."

Return to form

In this case Anton Chigurgh's goal is to recover money from a drug deal that's gone wrong.

As the plot unfolds he systematically kills and eliminates virtually everyone that crosses his path in the cat and mouse drama set in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas.

But Bardem says he doesn't enjoy the portrayal of violence: "I have been working for almost 20 years and this is the second violent movie I can say I have done.

Before Night Falls
Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar for Before Night Falls

"In this case I think violence is not glamorous at all.

"You want to go back home and hug your friends or family and choose not to do that at all because what the movie is talking about is the lack of meaning of violence and violence never being the vehicle to achieve or fix any situation."

The critics have hailed No Country For Old Men as a return to form for Joel and Ethan Coen.

For his part, Bardem reckons the movie's success has a lot to do with its ending. He says it's good the audience are left asking questions about what they've just seen.

"I think that's what makes the difference between a good movie and a brilliant movie.

"This I think is a brilliant movie - in that the ending gives room for you to, well, understand or try to see what happened there - and what's behind those sentences and those characters rather than be manipulated."

'Egos and vanities'

Bardem has made more than two dozen films in his native country and was also the first Spaniard to be shortlisted for a best actor Oscar in 2000 for his role in Before Night Falls.

Now that No Country For Old Men has won so many accolades and he himself has just won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor, thoughts are turning to this year's Academy Award nominations.

The actor says it would be "weird" if he were shortlisted again.

"I mean it's good to be recognised of course. We all want to be recognised. We all have our egos and vanities but at the same time it's something so out of your hands and it's never been the goal.

"So whether it happens or not it's something that you can't think about. And if it happens you just have to enjoy it and not be pressured by it."

But pressure invariably goes hand in hand with international success and media scrutiny.

It also makes him reflect on the downside to being an actor. "Sometimes it's a hard job because also you have to go and promote yourself and that's something that I don't especially like."

With a Golden Globe win under his belt, the attention can only increase and with it the need to promote what is already being touted as one of the must-see movies of 2008.

No Country For Old Men is out in UK cinemas on 18th January 2008.

Javier Bardem on how a trip to the hairdresser inspired him

Coens land Critics' Choice Awards
08 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Golden Globes 2008: The winners
14 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Coen brothers make best film list
17 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Coen brothers add to awards haul
11 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Coens win kicks off awards season
06 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Coens deliver thrills in Cannes
19 May 07 |  Entertainment

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