Actor Javier Bardem already won the Palm d’Or at Cannes for his leading role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film Biutiful, and he’s poised to take that title again on Oscar night. To play the troubled Uxbal, Bardem not only sunk himself into the character’s physiological state, but also underwent a dramatic physical transformation.
As a man struggling with cancer, Bardem lost a significant about of weight during the film’s grueling five-month shoot. The film was shot in chronological order, which made this process a little easier. “There’s something big—the disease—going on, and the effect that it has on the mind, the body, the soul, but also little details of behavior that have to do with the chronological order of being affected by [the disease]. It’s a great luxury for any actor, but I couldn’t imagine doing this any other way,” said Bardem.
“I just cut his diet—just locked him in his trailer, with one spoon of sugar a day, that’s it,” joked Iñárritu of Bardem’s transformation. However, Bardem says it was not that simple. Creating such an intense character contributed to his weight loss. “It was a lot of diet, a lot of exercise, but also a lot of shooting that really makes you feel like losing weight,” said Bardem.