×

‘Loving Pablo’ Director on Reuniting Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz: ‘It’s Been Very Intense’

Loving Pablo” — starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, whose last on-screen romantic relationship was in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” for which Cruz won an Oscar — also marks the reunion of Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa and Bardem, whose performance in León’s 2002 Goya-sweeping dramedy “Mondays in the Sun” served as confirmation, if it were needed after “Before Night Falls,” of Bardem’s acting range. Coming after León’s 2015 “A Perfect Day,” a Cannes Directors’ Fortnight player starring Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins, “Loving Pablo” is a film León and Bardem have wanted to make for more than 14 years.

What will audiences find in this new take on drug lord Pablo Escobar?

The movie offers Pablo Escobar’s story, focused on his 10 years facing extradition. This is told from the perspective of Virginia Vallejo, a journalist who had a close relationship with Escobar and provides highly intimate access to Escobar’s mind.

How did Vallejo’s book contribute to “Loving Pablo”?

Popular on Variety

Her viewpoint’s very interesting: Very close and gritty. The book proposes a journey, from the dazzling power and opulence that Escobar projected at first to the reality behind,the darkness, pain and tragedy. It’s a journey that Virginia makes, and the movie and Colombian society as well.

How do you explain the current fascination with Escobar?

As a storyteller, it’s impossible not to feel attracted by a story like this — with its excess, disproportion and violence. He changed criminal history. He wasn’t one more tough guy. He invented drug trading, the sicariato — so-called murder-for-hire — and money laundering on a huge scale. This magnitude, and disproportion, deserved the big screen.

It also gels with Colombia magic realist literature.

It’s inevitable to think that. From Medellín’s communes and the motorcycle ranchos to Colombia’s presidential palace, the magnitude of the story is enormous and it lasts for a very long time.

You’ve also chosen actors of a certain magnitude.

Both characters are exceptional. For Escobar and Vallejo, it was a must to have two exceptional actors such as Javier and Penelope for characters that embark towards different abysses. It’s been very intense. We all know one other very well. This helped, although we were frightened about the work. I worked with Javier many years ago. I found an actor with greater experience but the original enthusiasm and commitment.

After “A Perfect Day,” your first English-language movie, are you thinking of a more international career?

I don’t know, honestly. I never think in terms of a career. I work movie-by -movie, decide the next project on the fly, intuitively, where passion drives me.

More Film

  • Bong Joon Ho, Jane Rosenthal, David

    Netflix Praised by 'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Filmmakers at Producers Guild Panel

    Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. [...]

  • Gabriel Harel on MyFFF ‘The Night

    Gabriel Harel Discusses Dystopic Parable ‘The Night of the Plastic Bags’

    With his first short film, the animated “Yùl and the Snake,” Gabriel Harel won Europe’s Cartoon d’Or for the continent’s best animated short film, given at the 2016 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. Now, Harel’s awaited sophomore effort, the animated “The Night of the Plastic Bags,” competes at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, and is available on a swathe [...]

  • MyFrenchFilmFestival: Profiling Benjamin Crotty’s Short ‘Nicolas

    ‘The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin’: Nationalism Wrapped in Charisma

    Winner of Locarno’s Signs of Life section, Benjamin Crotty’s “The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin” has enjoyed more than 12 months of festival success and critical acclaim as it reaches the end of its festival run at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival. A modern take on one of France’s most influential yet widely unknown characters, the film headlines [...]

  • Alexander Ludwig

    Alexander Ludwig on Sharing his Recovery Journey, Playing the 'Bad Boys' Tech Guy

    With his towering height and stature, Alexander Ludwig looks every bit the action star, first appearing as Cato in “The Hunger Games,” and more recently as fierce Norse Viking chief Bjorn Ironside on History Channel’s “Vikings” and in “Bad Boys for Life,” the third installment of the “Bad Boys” franchise, with Will Smith and Martin [...]

  • Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Scores Big With $66 Million Launch

    “Bad Boys for Life” is showing plenty of power at the North American box office with an impressive  launch of around $66 million at 3,740 venues over the four-day holiday weekend. Sony’s sequel to 1995’s “Bad Boys” and 2003’s “Bad Boys II” far exceeded the studio’s pre-release forecasts of a $38 million weekend. The film, [...]

  • A Bump Along the Way Movie

    'A Bump Along the Way': Film Review

    While “Derry Girls” continues to be the last word in young, raucous female rebellion on the Emerald Isle, “A Bump Along the Way” has a little something to add. Sin the same Northern Irish city as the hit Netflix sitcom, but shedding the ’90s nostalgia for the Snapchat age, Shelly Love’s appealing, unassuming debut feature [...]

  • Tresor Plots $72 Million 'Asterix &

    Tresor Films Plots $72 Million 'Asterix & Obelix: The Silk Road,' New Projects (EXCLUSIVE)

    After delivering two of the highest-grossing French films of last year, Alain Attal’s Paris-based production company Tresor Films (“Sink or Swim,” “Little White Lies 2”) is kicking off 2020 with its most ambitious project yet, Guillaume Canet’s “Asterix & Obelix: The Silk Road.” Co-produced and financed by Jerome Seydoux’s Pathé, “Asterix & Obelix” is budgeted [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content