Each year, Variety honors individuals who have offered a notable contribution to the film landscape for the year. The 2021 Creative Impact Award honorees have made their mark in awards hopefuls.
Javier Bardem, Creative Impact in Acting Award
Academy Award winner Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”) will be feted, celebrating a busy year that includes roles in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” and Fernando León de Aronoa’s “The Good Boss,” Spain’s entry for the international film Oscar. “It is a huge honor that I take it with lots of gratitude and humility,” says Bardem.
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In “Being the Ricardos,” he portrays real-life Desi Arnaz, alongside Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball. The entire film takes place in one pressure-cooker week during the shooting of their classic CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy,” specifically when gossip columnist Walter Winchell reports that Ball registered as a member of the Communist Party back in the 1930s.
Bardem says he’s been touched by the response to the film at guild screenings. “I think it’s a great homage to the icons, but most important, it’s a good approach to the real people behind those characters that they invented. And they’re so acclaimed and also an amazing, powerful approach to the political situation in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the United States,” he says. “The genius of Sorkin is to really be able to play with different things at the same time and not let any of those balls fall.”
It’s been 30 years since Bardem’s breakthrough role in “Jamón Jamón” but the actor says he still gets insecure every time he signs on for a part. “There hasn’t been any project where I don’t feel I’m the wrong actor to play it,” he says.
“I guess that also shows the commitment that I have to give into trying to recreate any character and try to earn it.”
He credits his mother, actor Pilar Bardem, with his respect for the profession. “My mother told me whatever you do, you really have to be out there and be prepared, very well prepared, because there’s a big line of people behind you with more talent, but fewer opportunities.”
Asghar Farhadi, Creative Impact in Directing Award
Farhadi is no stranger to the American awards scene. The helmer’s previous films, 2011’s “A Separation” and 2016’s “The Salesman” won the foreign-language Oscar and 2021’s “A Hero” seems to be on the same trajectory.
Farhadi’s films seem to center on the everyman struggling with everyday issues. When the film premiered at Cannes, he told Variety that he was fascinated by people who seem to be put on a pedestal and then torn down.
“In Iran you get stories about very average people who in their daily lives do something that is very altruistic. And that humane way of being makes them very noticeable in society for a few days, and then they are forgotten. The story of the rise and fall of these kinds of people was really what interested me.”
Social media’s growing role was one he was interested in exploring also.
“But I think that what’s specific in Iran is that because there are tensions in society between different groups, opinions, ideologies, it becomes a tool in the hands of [groups of] people to confront the others.”
“I’m so honored to receive this award from Variety,” he says. “The general idea with this film was to make the directing as invisible as possible, so it makes me very happy to get this award.
“While filming, we did everything we could to hide the director, and we did everything on the set to make the directing disappear into the background. I wanted it to feel seamless. So I’m very pleased that the film is being received this way.”
“With ‘A Hero,’ Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi reaffirms his place at the forefront of international writer-directors,” says Steven Gaydos, Variety executive VP of content.
“The film’s Grand Prix award at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival was only the beginning of its international acclaim. As with ‘A Separation’ and ‘The Salesman,’ Farhadi has again elicited praise from film critics and awards voters who value Farhadi’s now-trademark virtues of densely layered screenplays and complex, sophisticated performances, all in the hands of a master of understated direction and compelling, thoughtful humanism.”
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