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Javier Bardem needs a translator -- not for English, for Jeff Bridges

Javier Bardem loves watching the work of his fellow actors. Paul Giamatti’s piss-and-vinegar performance in “Barney’s Version” deeply moved him, and he dug Kevin Spacey in “Casino Jack” and Michael Douglas’ turn in “Solitary Man.”

And the star of "Biutiful" has, of course, seen and enjoyed the work of his fellow lead actor Oscar nominees. Well … with one exception. He couldn’t understand what the heck Jeff Bridges was saying through much of the Coen brothers’ “True Grit.”

"Jeff Bridges is one of my idols," Bardem says. "He is one of those actors who has never done anything wrong. And he has done a lot of movies! But I saw it and it’s so thick, the accent that he has in the movie. So it was not easy for me to ... " Bardem pauses and lets out a groan, " ... get in there."

The pain is, yes, literally audible. Because Bardem not only loves Bridges, he also loves the Coens, having won an Oscar with them playing the stone-cold killer in "No Country for Old Men."

Bardem even asked his "No Country" costar Josh Brolin if it was just him or was Bridges' raspy Rooster Cogburn hard to decipher.

"He told me, ‘It’s not just you, Javier. Those accents are strong. That’s the way they speak,' " Bardem relates.

But the Spanish actor isn’t giving up. He plans to revisit "True Grit" once he returns home to Madrid.

"Then I can see it with subtitles and understand what’s going on," he says, smiling. "I’m looking forward to it."

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Don't feel bad, Javier. At least you have the excuse that English is not your first language.

I am American born and bred with a Masters degree in Languages and Linguistics, and the first comment I made to my friends as we were exiting the theater after viewing True Grit was that I couldn't understand but about half of what Jeff Bridges said. It's a real problem in that movie.

Yes, and subtitles for the Mancunian accent are usually needed as well.

Javier must first study the speech of master sidekick Gabby Hayes dagnabbit!


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