Loving Pablo shows us a rare side to the life of Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord that has previously been immortalized in the likes of Blow, The Infiltrator, American Made and Narcos.
Based on journalist Virginia Vallejo’s memoir “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar,” it depicts her affair with Escobar, while also presenting a detailed account of the social and political upheaval that he brought to the country between 1983 and his death on December 2, 1993, a day after his 44th birthday.
I recently had the chance to speak to Javier Bardem, who plays Escobar in the film, and I was intrigued to know just how true the events in “Loving Pablo” actually are.
“The film is based on the memoir of Virginia, who was there,” remarked Bardem. “She was there. She wrote it. We met with her, we collaborated with her.”
“She is a person who knew a lot about him. Not just him but the country, and the socio and political situation at the time. The book is based on that.”
“There are fictional moments based on what we have been told, what we had heard and what we had read. We wanted to make it more dramatic and thrilling.”
“But basically what you see is what happened for real. Things like his personal last phone call is pretty much what he said.”
Bardem also went into detail about how “Loving Pablo” was adapted for screen and what makes it unique, explaining, “I sat down with a writer and director Fernando Leon de Aranoa, who is a good friend of mine, and we created it based on Virginia’s book.”
“It had that fear and the energy of him and it had a portrait that I wanted to see from him. And it was a movie, a big-scale film that hasn’t been done yet.”
“We have seen TV series, but not the big screen and big event of what this person meant, not just to Colombia but the rest of the world.”
But how many times did Bardem actually meet with Virginia to discuss Pablo and the film?
“I talked to her 3 times. I met with her in Miami. It was a great conversation. Because she really brought all of the personal things that make the man the man rather than an icon.”
“I wanted to know how he moved, when there were silences, how he would relate to you and others. Those are the things that aren’t really in the books and you want to know who that person was.”
Bardem, who won an Oscar for his terrifying portrayal of Anton Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men,” also discussed what he endured in order to bring an authentic and unparalleled version of Escobar to the big-screen in “Loving Pablo,” insisting he was always aware of the real pain, torment and tragedy that Escobar actually brought to people during his years as a narcoterrorist.
“He left a real pain to real people. He let hundreds if not thousands of people wounded forever. So that means that the responsibility is much deeper than when you play a fictional character.”
“No matter how real you want to make a fictional character it is only based in imagination. But here you want to get the closest look or feel you can get to the figure to get his real motivation.”
Getting Escobar out his system proved to be a challenge for Bardem, too.
“The character is there to a point that you don’t realize. Because you have been immersed for 8 weeks shooting it, then you’ve been preparing, too.”
“When you are done you don’t really know what to do with that energy. During shooting you have been in and out, which you have to do otherwise it is a neurosis.”
“But the energy is still in your body, in your system, in your voice. You have to let yourself drain that.”
“With characters like this the one thing I do every day is take a very hot shower so that the energy is drained out of my body.”
“Because I didn’t want to take that home for dinner time. You want to go home and be with your children. Your children want to see daddy, not Pablo Escobar.”
“Loving Pablo” is released on October 5.