In a recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Javier Bardem discusses the way he collaborates with directors and with his acting coach of 22 years in crafting a performance:

Mr. BARDEM:… in this case, I’ve prepared a role with my acting teacher, Juan Carlos Corazza, which he’s been my acting teacher since 22 years ago. And, of course, once – when I go there with Juan Carlos, with my acting teacher, I go based on the idea that the Coens wanted me to do. It’s not something that he will direct me how to do it, and then I will go to a set and do what I want, no. It’s like….they tell me what they want, I go there to the laboratory, try different things, come back to them, and they choose what they want.

Bardem is perfectly explaining the principle which my teachers call “Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. When working with a director, the actor needs to be able to give the director what she wants. The director is the source of employment and opportunity, and she needs to be gratified. However, in giving the director what she needs, the actor needs to take care to render to “God” that which is rightfully his. By “God” I mean the actor’s creativity, artistic integrity, sense of vocation, or whatever you want to call it. The actor needs to BOTH produce the results the director is looking for (or there will be no further opportunities from this director), AND find a way to make those results authentic and organic for himself.

Bardem clearly understands this obligation to himself. He does not assume that he can simply do what the director requests and that he will be doing his best work as an artist. He recognizes that doing his best work is a separate responsibility. He uses a coach that he has worked with for his whole career. To have such an enduring relationship with a mentor must be a tremendous asset.

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