Javier Bardem gets special effects treatment for Pirates Of The Caribbean
Javier Bardem on challenge of working with CGI in latest Pirates of the Caribbean film
Captain Salazar, the fearsome new undead villain of the deep otherwise known as the Butcher of the Sea, is played with gusto by Javier Bardem in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge.
Salazar and his army of the undead face off against Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the fifth instalment of the film franchise.
His white cracked face and swirling black hair reflected "all this feeling of rage and pain that came to me, and that stayed there", said Bardem, 48, at our interview at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel.
The rage is directed at Sparrow, who trapped the pirate hunter of the Spanish army in the Devil's Triangle.
Once he escapes that hell, Salazar has to find the Trident of Poseidon, which would empower him to wipe out all pirates.
Sparrow teams up with beautiful astronomer Carina (Kaya Scodelario) and Henry, a sailor in the Royal Navy (Brenton Thwaites), in a race to find the Trident before Salazar does.
The Oscar-winning Spanish actor, best known for his bad guy turns in No Country For Old Men and Skyfall, found working with a green screen for the film's massive special effects the most challenging part of his role.
"Things are not there for you to touch or interact with. I was in a boat, a real (life-size) boat, but there was no sea," Bardem said with a laugh.
"They tell you now, at the left, there's going to be this amazing boat, and now in front of you, there's this explosion happening, and here on the right is this wave coming. Action!
"I felt like I was a five year-old boy, when your parents tell you to do something for the guests.
"But the ultimate goal for an actor is to imagine things. And then when I saw the final result on screen, I was blown away by how those things were there for real and beautifully done."
I felt like I was a five year-old boy, when your parents tell you to do something for the guests.Javier Bardem on working with a green screen for the special effects
The make-up was a "hard" three-hour process every day, and he says what you see on the big screen is exactly the way it looked on his face.
"It's totally worth it because you can touch it, and it helps your imagination to grow. The hair was different. Having all my hair pulled back and blue dots (sensors for the CGI process), it was kind of ridiculous on the set," Bardem said with a laugh.
The release of the new Pirates flick has been overshadowed by reports of Depp's lateness and heavy drinking, including one episode where the set was shut down when he seriously injured his finger with multiple explanations offered. But Bardem diplomatically sidestepped the question.
He spoke instead of their first meeting on the Mexican set of the award-winning romantic drama Before Night Falls in 1999, when Depp helped out the director, Julian Schnabel, with a cameo appearance.
Bardem said: "He did two scenes. He played this drag queen... And I was coming out of the trailer and I saw this blonde hair and beautiful butt and I said 'Woah, that's a nice butt'. And it was Johnny's butt."
"He looked so sexy and he was so great in the scene. I was very starstruck. The first time he went on set, everybody was crazy and nervous because of how he was going to behave. He's nice, he's caring, he's generous, he's a beautiful person to be with."
Bardem added: "And in 2015, when we shot (Pirates), it's the same guy.
"And he is as talented as we know, and he is one of the best clowns in the world and he will be up there with Buster Keaton in the future, because the way he moves and controls the body language, it's extraordinary.
"So when he became Jack Sparrow in front of my eyes, I was really like, wow, like applauding. I saw in him how to deal with the fun and the joy of doing these kinds of movies."
Bardem has two children aged four and six with his Spanish actress-wife Penelope Cruz, and they try to "be the couple that combines the jobs, so one of us is with the kids and the other one is working".
He said: "We like to be a hands-on family. So that's why when we did Escobar (his upcoming movie about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar) together, it was like a dream come true."
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge opens here tomorrow.