Javier Bardem finds that Spain is no country for stupid remarks

His smouldering looks and on-screen presence usually do the talking. But this time it is what the Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem has said that has landed him in trouble with his compatriots.

The boyfriend of Penelope Cruz stands accused of attacking his countrymen in an interview with The New York Times, labelling them "a bunch of stupid people". Bardem was replying to home-grown criticism that he had "sold out" by going to Hollywood.

Despite winning an Academy Award for his role as the psychopathic hitman Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, Bardem said he was greeted with flak on returning home. "The Spanish are tough," he told the newspaper. "They criticise my work and say I sold out. You want to say: 'Stop it – you're a bunch of stupid people.'"

But when his controversial remarks were reported in Spain this week, Bardem felt obliged to do some swift back-pedalling. The 39-year-old actor has now issued a statement claiming there was an error in translation. He said he "feels a deep respect and thanks" towards the immense majority of Spaniards, and that he did not insult the Spanish people in the interview.

Bardem said he felt proud of his country and that he only meant to direct his criticisms towards a small group of people who had attacked his career. "Contrary to what I was quoted as saying, I feel very proud of my country and through my work I have always tried to contribute to its culture within and outside Spain and to honour my people," he said.

He insists he has not been seduced by Hollywood. He said that because he cannot drive, he finds it tough to get around Los Angeles and still feels that his real home is Madrid.

Bardem is known as a left-wing activist who has publicly demonstrated in favour of Spain's ruling Socialist party and for social reforms. He used his Oscar acceptance speech to criticise Spain's conservative Popular Party. Bardem's political activism has won him no friends on the right in Spain, and it seems likely that his latest comments were directed at politically motivated detractors.

Born into a family of actors, Bardem was raised by his mother, who was often unemployed for long spells. He has said that made him realise how tough life could be. "I come from a very political background," he once said. "It's good to go back to your roots and see everything with a second camera."

In the latest interview, Bardem did admit that he had fought to prove that winning an Oscar, had not changed him. "After something like the awards, you've changed a little bit, but everyone around you has changed tremendously. You have to bring them back, you have to show that you are the same stupid, limited guy and not this kind of golden boy."

Bardem stars in Woody Allen's latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, alongside Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, which was shot in Spain and will be released this month. Referring to his role, Bardem said: "I'm with these three beauties. I was afraid no one in the audience would believe they'd ever be with me. I was in the make up trailer saying: 'You'd better work a miracle.'"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices