For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series – where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way – we’re posing some of the big questions to Javier Bardem.
Here, the ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ star, who is currently an ambassador for the Chivas Regal Win the Right Way campaign, reveals the best piece of advice his mother gave him when he became an actor, and how recognising the simplicity of life brings him happiness.
Where do you go to switch off from the world?
I guess read a good book. But sometimes I think a good way to switch off from the world is to be present. We are always thinking, wondering and making plans for the next 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 years, and we are not present. It’s about being in the moment. It’s something that just makes you switch off from the noise of the world. I’m not saying I can always do it, but the few times I have, it has worked.
How do you deal with any negativity?
The inside negativity is there and the outside negativity is there, so you are dealing with both. They are two different forces. With the inner one is to become, you have to become peaceful with it, you know it will always be there. You have to accept that there’s a part of yourself that will always want to bring you down, as we are human. The other one, I don’t pay attention to – it is a lost battle and a waste of time.
When and where are you happiest?
With my family and friends, when I am capable of recognising the simplicity of the day and it’s richness. I guess that comes with age. You can experience something knowing it has a huge value on its own. Happiness is sometimes too strong of a word, being fine is enough. Happiness is a glimpse that comes here and there, and you can’t look for it all the time, as it would drive you crazy.
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve been given a lot of advice from a lot of different people as I’m 47 years old. The most important one was from my mum, who is an actress. When I started to work as an actor professionally I was 17, and she told me this idea of what a sprint looks like and what a marathon looks like. This job is like a marathon, you have to keep running and have a very clear goal of what you want to achieve. That is always in the back of my head.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
That people go away. My dad passed away when I was 26 and he was only 64, so that was a very sudden moment. Some friends of mine, our relationships also went away and I don’t see them anymore, and that’s a hard thing to swallow. How do you deal with the impotence and the emptiness of somebody who was filling that in your life? Again, you have to keep on walking.
What would you could tell your 13-year-old self?
It depends – if my 13-year-old self was as I was 30 years ago, I would say, ‘calm down, take it easy man. You are protected, the world is a safe place.’ I think it is important for a teenager to feel protected, even if they want to fight. Unfortunately, there are too many children left alone in this world.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
Everything that came to me in life came to me as a surprise – nothing was planned. So I keep on going in that way. I don’t have a list of things I’d like to do before I die, I just want to try to be present with the people I love and care about, and make sure they know that.
What do you think happens when we die?
Who knows! Do I believe in something else, some sort of energy out there? Yeah, I do. I think we are spirit beings having a body experience, not the other way around. What defines us as human beings is our spirit, and that cannot die. The older I get, the more I want to think there is something else.
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
Many times. I’m not religious, I believe in Darwin’s theory and the Big Bang, but out of where? How can the universe explode and multiply itself? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something, and it’s bigger than us.
What keeps you grounded?
Friends and family, they are the people that really know me. I really try to keep them close to me because those are the people who will tell you the truth and what you need to hear – not always what you want to hear.
What do you try and bring to your relationships?
Honesty – it’s very well proved that lying doesn’t take any relationship far. At the end of the day, the truth will out, so you better be honest from the very beginning and show yourself for who you are.
What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
I was in a restaurant and the waiter helped me to find the toilet! The point is, I didn’t know where it was and the guy was super busy, and this person paid attention to the fact I was lost and accompanied me. I thought that was a nice kind thing for him to do. If we are open, we can see many, many acts of kindness around us that we need to appreciate.
Javier Bardem is currently featuring in the Win the Right Way campaign from luxury Scotch whisky brand Chivas Regal. A rallying cry to recognise the power of shared success, you can find out more about the campaign at www.chivas.com.